These past several years, workplaces have shifted from traditional offices to more fluid arrangements. Today, employees may be in the office one day and home the next, and myriad freelancers permanently work remotely.

Working remotely can be challenging for different types of marketing teams—and creatives in particular because their work requires consistent and direct collaboration. But the latest tools can help marketing teams operate as a cohesive, seamless unit and deliver results that exceed expectations, no matter employees are.

Overcome the hurdles in your creative path

Collaboration is easy when the whole team is working in one physical place, bouncing ideas off each other, and providing real-time feedback.

In a remote working environment, however, teams must take a different approach to collaboration and creativity.

Good tools can streamline the creative process by enabling real-time exchanges of concepts and by facilitating virtual brainstorms and creative sessions. Moreover, many of the latest collaborative solutions go beyond project-management capabilities, helping optimize the creative flow for marketing professionals across all levels.

Maximize your drawing power

Since the Stone Age, people have used drawings to communicate.

Today, when teams get together for a meeting, they gather around a whiteboard or a pad of paper.

However, remote workers typically draw much less, and that puts them at a huge disadvantage. One common thread with successful creative teams is that they draw all the time, so look for tools that make sharing sketches and drawings in meetings easy.

Lengthy written explanations in email are not an effective tool for visual work.

Feedback packaged in images, ideas, and other visually engaging formats helps feed the creative process. Not only does drawing provide a vehicle for organizing thoughts, but it helps make concepts more concrete.

Drawing also is critical during the collaboration process, allowing teams to provide feedback about ideas by using a few simple strokes—either on paper or through digital tools.

Moreover, the stylus and precise mouse-led drawing programs make drawing easier than ever. Those tools enable marketing creatives to sketch ideas and doodle right on drafts, making remote workers' edits visible in real time to others, no matter where they are.

Get honest and authentic feedback

Creatives also thrive on each other's energy. Sometimes, they may seek quick reactions from colleagues they trust; other times, creatives may want to get more detailed feedback from a larger group.

Though creatives and their managers may think that working outside a traditional office prohibits that kind of feedback, technology allows even more immediate and visceral feedback.

Video chats are an easy way to share text, files, images, and video right from a tablet or webcam. For creatives, that method provides a way to solicit ongoing feedback and keep everyone invested in the project in the loop.

Meetings and brainstorms, either in-person or virtual, are excellent ways for creatives to observe body language and facial expressions for instant assessments of their ideas. Does the team find the idea exciting or boring, interesting or confusing, funny or embarrassing? Those questions can be answered with the functionality of those collaboration tools.

Set creative ideas free

Collaboration does not stop when a meeting or call ends. It is an ongoing, organic process, and a creative spark can hit unexpectedly. But too often, those creative thoughts and ideas are trapped in a notebook, buried in an email thread, or saved in a Word doc.

A shared online space provides immense value, not only for capturing the evolution of a project but also for allowing team members to jot down ideas, sketches, or feedback whenever the mood strikes.

Moreover, a virtual war room can be created with online whiteboards and collaboration platforms that allow teams to instantly exchange and build on ideas.

Strike a balance

The modern workplace has evolved to include a host of arrangements, with colleagues across the hall, across the country, or on the other side of the world. Technology can help bring colleagues together when they cannot be in the same room.

Though none of those solutions completely replace the physical office, when the tools are used in addition to teams in physical spaces or when a physical office isn't possible, creativity can flow.

Ultimately, remote workers who keep imagination, collaboration, and open communication top of mind—no matter where they are—will continue to be most creative.

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Staying Creative While Working Remotely

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image of Jes Sherborne

Jes Sherborne is the founder and CEO of Team Everywhere, a startup that helps creative teams work together visually, whether down the hall or around the world.

LinkedIn: Jes Sherborne

Twitter: @jes_sherborne