How to motivate your team to produce good work, even during a global pandemic

We all know what it’s like to dig deep on a Monday morning, trying to find the smallest bit of motivation to get out of bed and dress for work. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, it sort of threw the world into a permanent “Monday morning” situation. Along with the increased levels of stress and anxiety it brought to agencies and businesses all over the globe, came an adjustment to remote working and a struggle amongst employees to find motivation to be innovative and creative. 

Research conducted in partnership with Microsoft and the Boston Consulting Group, involving 9,000 managers and employees from firms across 15 European countries, revealed that, “It’s a challenge to feel connected, confident and communicate effectively with the team, and we know from a lot of research that creativity and innovation largely happen through collaboration.” A healthy team culture is achieved when employees feel motivated to be creative and productive. 

But, how do you implement this type of work environment when employees are unable to get together in the office for a good, old-fashioned creative brainstorming session?

Fortunately there are a number of effective strategies you can implement within your teams now to ensure you can harness that collaborative mentality, and motivate your team to produce creative work, at a distance. 

Ensure an effective briefing process

According to Denise Blasevick, CEO of The S3 Agency, providing a clear creative brief, a day or two before an online brainstorming sessions, is key because it “allows people to digest the information, do research, and come armed with questions along with any potential thought starters that can start the brainstorm out with a burst of energy.”

Download a helpful Creative Brief Checklist

Use virtual whiteboards for collaboration

Traditional brainstorming whiteboards are found to actually limit creativity because often one individual is responsible for recording all thoughts, whereas virtual whiteboards allow everyone to contribute, show and record their ideas. Visual collaboration in a virtual space also means you can loop in other team members who may work in different country offices. You could even use this process to encourage healthy competition, circling the “winning ideas” on the virtual whiteboard and challenging your team to suggest better ideas.

Here are a few virtual whiteboards we recommend checking out: 

Source: https://www.innovationtraining.org/what-is-mural-and-how-to-use-mural-for-design-thinking/

Encourage individual work 

Grace Judson, a leadership consultant, advises that you provide your team with limited solo brainstorming time, using a ripple effect: The first team member starts and is given 5 minutes to write out their ideas. Once they are done, the second team member goes, either coming up with new ideas, or using the ideas of the previous team member as inspiration, still on the 5-minute clock. This continues until all team members have contributed and then the results are up for discussion. 

Equip your team with a helpful brainstorming activity sheet

For many, the best way to tackle those Monday morning blues is to grab hold of a big cup of coffee. And for us, giving our team tools to help get their creative juices flowing while working from home, is the equivalent to a shot of espresso. 

Which is why we’ve developed a free, downloadable, Idea Generation Workbook that you can share with your team today – either for them to complete alone or for you to work through it with them. 

This sheet offers a few out-of-the-box ideas for brainstorming effectively, as well as formal processes they can follow to keep them focused and motivated. Before long, your team will be producing such good work, and solving every problem thrown at them, you will have forgotten remote working was ever a struggle in the first place. 

Ready to see your team’s innovative thinking thrive? Get your free Idea Generation Workbook by completing the below form.

 

“86% of organizations see failure to digitize and automate business inputs as a key transformation bottleneck.” 

There is no denying that 2020 has been a year for the books. Within the Architecture, Engineering and Construction industry, project managers, engineers, surveyors and more have shifted their processes to accompany a more diverse, remote way of working. Creating and processing information may have been a struggle prior to 2020, and now with a workforce that can be partially or even fully remote, inefficiencies with project information management can certainly come to the forefront.

In this whitepaper, you’ll discover solutions to some of the AEC industry’s most common challenges with managing project information, particularly when managing information remotely.

How to tackle project information management:

    • Identify process holes within your organisation
    • Review your data management approach
    • Take stock of on-site practices
    • Have the hard conversations

What does the future hold for creative agencies worldwide?

Campaign and Deltek surveyed agency professionals across EMEA, North America and Asia-Pacific regions about everything from profitability and processes to what’s really giving them sleepless nights. In total, 670 agency professionals, from more than 30 countries participated, and the results are a global snapshot of the trends that are shaping the industry.

The key trends worldwide:

    • Many agencies have grown and diversified, but this is not necessarily translating to greater profit margins
    • Over-servicing and scope creep is the number one concern worldwide
    • Nearly half of all agencies want to improve their processes for finding & retaining the right talent
    • Opportunities to improve project management and client handling processes are being missed

Deltek’s Agency Solutions power project success by giving you better control, insight and visibility into agency operations, so your team can deliver more creative content on time and on budget.

Find out how to increase efficiency and productivity through;

    • CRM & Pipeline Management
    • Resourcing, Project Management & Collaboration
    • Proofing & Approvals
    • Finance & Accounting

5 Reasons your Business needs Project Information Management

Make your move to effective data and information management. Emails, drawing, contracts, RFIs…

As an Architecture, Engineering or Construction firm you will produce and handle thousands of documents, but how do you effectively manage them to ensure project success? You’ll need to define and adopt clear project information management processes and systems, but finding a starting point is your first challenge.

Download our eGuide where we begin to explore the importance of managing business and project information effectively and how to get going.

Streamline Service Delivery with Deltek Vantagepoint

Projects are critical to the success of every architecture and engineering firm and you need a solution that puts your people and projects at the center of your business. Challenging economic times increases the need for efficiency in service delivery & business operations.

Deltek Vantagepoint gives A&E firms insight to maximize productivity, boost collaboration, improve efficiency and increase profitability. Trusted by thousands of A&E firms around the world, Deltek is an industry leader for project and financial management solutions built specifically for the way A&E firms work.

Download Deltek Vantagepoint product brief to learn how to streamline Service Delivery and power your project success for your firm.

 



We consider it our ongoing mission to truly understand our clients’ challenges and proactively identify what help they need to solve these challenges. To this end, we recently worked with Campaign UK to survey 100 agencies. The focus of the research was agency efficiency and productivity – in essence, do agencies have the right processes and systems in place to maximise their creativity? The results show that while this is a clear priority for agencies, most are not satisfied that the tools they are using are the right ones. I’ve selected some of what I found to be the most interesting data points to share with you.

See the full survey results

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY

Key Challenges:

Let’s start with the problems those surveyed want to solve:

  1. Managing ever-increasing client expectations for cheaper, better and faster work
  2. Finding and retaining qualified staff
  3. Charging clients correctly (in terms of accurate budgeting, timekeeping and managing scope creep)
  4. Forecasting and planning in an always-changing environment
  5. Resource management aligned with capacity

These issues aren’t new and there aren’t any that can’t be solved by implementing effective processes to measure productivity and efficiency. So, what’s holding agencies back?

Efficiency: Every Agency’s Holy Grail?

advertising agency software

While the vast majority (85%) of survey respondents said that their agencies were measuring operational efficiency in some way, the methods used varied. 42% reported using a mixture of automated and manual systems to keep track of operational efficiency, while 28% said they still tracked efficiency mainly through manual methods, such as spreadsheets. The problem with this tracking approach was summarised by one respondent, the strategy director at an agency; “I have to look at one spreadsheet for our budget, one for time spent, another for costs – and while we use software for pipeline management, those systems aren’t joined up.”

Getting Estimates Right: What’s Going Wrong?

‘69% of agencies report too many guesstimates in their estimates’

However, 29% said they did not have that clear insight and 21% were only “somewhat” convinced by their estimates. More worryingly, one in 10 of those surveyed either did not know if their estimates were correct or were not confident in their accuracy.

So, what is undermining confidence in business estimates? The answer seems to lie in the fact that agencies’ estimates are too often underpinned by a certain amount of guesswork. 69% of those surveyed felt they had some of the information they needed to produce accurate business estimates, but that too many guesstimates were involved in the process.

One strategy director was candid about how easy it is to fall into over-reliance on guesstimates: “What we think we know about our business is massively open to personal bias – too often, we base our thinking on ‘I reckon…’ rather than hard data. We often think we know who our best clients are, but do the numbers bear that out?’’ he asked.

Where Technology Meets Creativity

project management for creative agencies

“Moving to a single system has allowed the team to increase the speed with which they can access data – it allows them to spend more time on creating the work and less on the tracking of it.”
– Mark Jones, We Are Social

The results showed that most agencies felt that better technology would help build a clearer picture of their business, and free up staff to concentrate on creativity. 66% thought that agency management software could help with easier project scheduling and time tracking and a similar number believed it could reduce excessive admin time and unbillable costs. 52% thought software systems could help align resourcing and staffing pipelines, while nearly as many (47%) believed they could increase the accuracy of estimates and invoices.

So, what’s the real problem? It seems that agencies are not actually taking advantage of these technology benefits.

Most agencies (66%) were using multiple systems to manage and monitor their activity and were only “somewhat” happy with the result. Meanwhile, a significant minority (16%) were successfully using one integrated software system across the whole agency. A unified system appears to be the key to success. Mark Jones of We Are Social is convinced of the benefits of a cohesive approach: “Moving to a single system has allowed the team to increase the speed with which they can access data – it allows them to spend more time on creating the work and less on the tracking of it.”

I’ve only been able to touch on a couple of points from what was a truly enlightening research piece in this blog. Please do download the full report here for a more detailed view of the insights and trends we uncovered.

 

How to Implement a Successful Project Information Management Strategy

This eGuide is designed to put architects, engineers, construction consultants and contractors on the right path when it comes to introducing the processes and systems needed to tame the mass of information and data related to their business and projects. We’ll give you 7 actionable steps that will enable you to manage both organisational and project information efficiently.

We’ll show you how to implement best practice, starting with an audit of your current information management processes through to system selection, stakeholder buy-in, implementation, change management and measures of success. Adopting a PIM strategy is easily achievable, particularly when you follow this step-by-step guide.

Download eGuide here



 

The 39th Annual Deltek Clarity Architecture & Engineering Industry Study

In-depth industry analysis to help you benchmark your firm and improve your results.

Get the latest A&E industry benchmarks, future trends and historical analysis for key areas of your business including financial management, business development, project management, and human capital management.

Download the free report here!

Join us as we unveil the overall results of the 39th Annual Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Study – the longest running and most comprehensive study in the industry. During this session, Megan Miller, Deltek A&E Clarity Manager, will provide a comprehensive overview of this year’s key findings.

You’ll walk away with a deeper understanding of the current challenges facing the Architecture & Engineering industry, the key initiatives that will impact your business now and into the future, and how your firm measures up against A&E-specific KPIs. Attendees will also receive a copy of the 39th Annual Deltek Clarity A&E Report with more than 50 industry-specific metrics.

Be sure to also register for the upcoming deep dives into each area of this year’s report: Financial ManagementBusiness DevelopmentProject Management and Human Capital Management. 

Overview:

Ready on Demand

Register here to view the Webcast