When Do I Find Time To Be Creative?
4 Solutions to Give Your Team More Time to Be Creative
If you are on an in-house creative team or work with one, we are sure you have heard this before: “How do we focus on being creative when administrative tasks constantly interrupt us?”
It is hard to focus on creative tasks when you are spending so much time on repetitive ones. This is not a new problem, but it is a challenge that continues to worsen. According to the 2019 In-House Creative Management Report, conducted by Lytho, 4% of creatives say they spend about one day a week or more on non-creative work – that is up 14% from the same survey last year. 72% report that “obtaining the necessary information to start a project” is the biggest administrative task that soaks up time they could otherwise spend being creative.
There are so many advancements in workflow, creative briefing, and creative process management. We wondered why this problem keeps getting worse despite the fact. We may have a few ideas why the administrative task list keeps growing. Here is why we think creative teams struggle to balance admin and creative work:
Digital advertising, while no longer the new kid on the block, is still evolving. The rules keep changing, there are more technical complexities, format, and timelines required for producing digital content. We can place and update digital advertising faster and more frequently than we do traditional media. So, clients are more likely to rush through the briefs and skip steps in the process. They know that if they do not get it right the first time, it is easy to change the content.
What stakeholders often forget is that skipping steps in the process to rush jobs and adds more administrative work for the creative team, which slows down the process. When we rush a brief, and the stakeholder does not include key information, the creative team must go back to previous jobs to see what they did last month. Digging through job folders to find the specs takes time and takes away from their ability to focus on making digital advertising the best it can be.
One solution for this is making it easy for stakeholders to pull up their old briefs for a similar type of job and copy and paste into the new brief. Workflow systems that allow you to create templates for jobs can also really cut down on the time it takes to complete a brief and prevent creative teams from having to double back to old job files to find the specs. It is a win-win.
Be Creative with Feedback
Creativity is subjective, so it is natural for people to have different opinions about and on it. Every time we change something, the creative team must go back through the process, wasting time. And what is their valuable time not being spent on? Being creative.
Have a process that allows for controlled review and approval. Some workflow systems, like Lytho Workflow, allow you to create approvers who finalize feedback. They can delete what they want to skip, so the creative team receives approved changes steadily. Now that is efficient. With this system, the creative team only sees one set of consistent feedback. This helps creative teams avoid the time-consuming back and forth those results from conflicting feedback.
Unclear Job Direction
Often, clients view the creative brief like a means to an end. They skip questions, and use vague answers to do their part quickly. Worse, creative teams accept the briefs that way. Faulty, incomplete briefs are the single most cited reason for unnecessary admin tasks and time waste. Creative teams are afraid to push back on clients to do better briefs for fear of not seeming collaborative.
At the core of most creative teams is the desire to provide great customer service. Pushing back on clients is often viewed as being inflexible. When we do not demand complete briefs, it is not just the creative team who suffers. Clients lose out too because deadlines get pushed back and more rounds of review are needed. And in most cases the creative people themselves suffer as a result.
Make the brief part of the job opening process in your workflow system. Create templates that do not allow clients to skip questions. Explain the importance of the brief in the job process to your clients. For new jobs or projects that are complex, always begin the job process with a kickoff meeting. In this way, clients and team members can discuss the brief and be on the same page. Spend a little more time on the front end to get all the information you need, and you will shave time off the back end and cut back on those annoying admin tasks.
Creative Teams Are Moving In-House
Why do creative teams at agencies not report the same challenges with time spent on administrative work that in-house teams do? One reason is that agencies tend to have more structure and dedicated roles to keep the process moving smoothly. Account managers handle the clients, traffic managers control the flow of work, and creatives focus on their core responsibilities. Another problem in-house teams have is the water cooler effect. When working with an agency, clients make sure to be efficient to keep costs down.
This does not translate to in-house teams, since most of us do not view our coworkers as hired help. It is much easier to walk up to a coworker by the water cooler and informally request work. It also takes away urgency from completing reviews on time or worrying about too many rounds of review.
It is time for in-house teams to adopt a structure that mirrors the external agency side. We advocate for account managers handling clients, so creative teams can avoid constant interruptions. This allows your customer agents and other teams keep time spent on admin work to a minimum. We adopted a more traditional external agency structure for one of our large, in-house teams. There was a noticeable difference in morale as well as a higher level of creativity as a result. There is much to be said about hiring the right people for the right job and letting them focus on what they do best.
Lytho helps you streamline your entire workflow and harmonize all brand collateral under a single, uniform platform. Feel free to reach out to us by scheduling a demo and learning how our creative solutions can boost the effectiveness of your creative projects. We look forward to speaking with you!