Fostering a productive, collaborative, and creative spirit in a remote Content Operations team

Stay connected · Aug 25, 2021

For some, working or managing remotely is normal. For others, especially since COVID-19 began, an unexpected shove into remote work might have introduced a whole new level of complexity that never existed before.

As such, the importance of creating and fostering a productive, collaborative, and creative spirit in a remote Content Operations team has never been more relevant.

What to do?

There are a lot of different elements to consider. Content is, by nature, a collaborative and creative endeavour. So not only do you need to manage a team's personalities, strengths, and challenges, but you need to do it while developing and fostering a content-focused team culture.

Build a strong foundation

I begin with people management. People are people, regardless of where they are located or how they work. In my experience, putting people first builds a strong foundation, upon which you can layer effective Content Operations techniques.

Here are a few people management techniques that I’ve found to be especially helpful:

  • Candour: Be open and honest with your people. Make sure everyone on your team recognizes that you are all, first and foremost, a team of humans. Cultivate a team culture that embraces all facets of the human spirit, in good times and bad.

  • Respect: Respect your people and where they are coming from, both personally and professionally. Meet each individual where they are and grow them from there. Understand and show empathy that remote work (whether new or normal) has its own set of challenges that everyone will deal with and adapt to in their own time and their own way. Create a safe and positive workspace and provide resources to help with that adaptation.

  • Self-care: Burnout is a real thing, whether people are working locally or remotely. Encourage your team to practice self-care, whatever that looks like for them. Set a good example by practicing your own self-care. Create space for people to stretch themselves personally and professionally, to rejuvenate, and to think creatively. A burned-out team member is not creative, collaborative, or effective.

Layer in elements of a content-focused team

Once these core people management techniques are fully embraced in your team, you can begin to create and foster a creative and collaborative Content Operations environment. Here are some of the more effective techniques I've used:

  • Critiques: These can be done formally or informally, in-person or online. Anything from a few sentences to an entire piece of content can be critiqued. Make sure there are ground rules around the critiques; a shared understanding that it is the work, not the person, being critiqued, and that everyone is coming to the critique from a place of positive and constructive feedback.

  • Pair-writing: Pair-writing sessions can happen through virtual whiteboard sessions, screenshare calls, or cloud-based document sharing platforms. Make sure there is an agreed-upon outcome and a shared understanding of user needs before the session gets started, and then let the collaboration begin!

  • Brainstorms: Writer's block happens to everyone. In my experience, there’s no better way to get unblocked than to spend some time with other writers, throwing ideas on a wall (literally or figuratively) and seeing what sticks. Brainstorms should be time-boxed and focused; but freeflowing and open to any and all ideas (there's no such thing as a bad idea during a brainstorming session). Virtual whiteboards, sticky-notes during video calls, or collaborative card writing software are all effective tools.

There's no better time to further explore these techniques, as the move to a remote workforce shows no sign of slowing down, and the need for good content produced by creative and efficient Content Operations teams has never been more real.

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Adriana Harper
Senior Content Strategist
Adriana is a Senior Content Strategist at TELUS Digital. She loves words, animals, family, and sports, and her favourite food group is pizza.