Assemble The Best From Wherever They Hail
The crew on the deck of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise is an early example of a great team that was assembled by recruiting the very best talent from wherever they hailed.
Today, we can create that kind of dream team in our creative departments, and we don’t even need science fiction to do it. In fact, we don’t need to bring that team together in a single location, thanks to the cloud. With well-developed and -tested creative and productivity tools, we can collab with large teams dispersed around the planet and excel as a unit. Who needs the Enterprise, or even a Madison Avenue office, when you have Adobe Creative Cloud and MS Teams?
If you think this is a work utopia — it pretty much is. For many reasons. But this essay is dedicated to talent, so let’s focus on how much a creative department can benefit talent-wise from going global.
‘That Creative’s Not From Here, Is It?’
Overcome “that creative’s not from here, is it?” challenge. Good design and copy require a knowledge of where that work will be seen and who will be seeing it. Years ago, when I was on a wonderful creative team at an agency in Fairfield County CT, we had a large New York City-based spirits brand as a client. That client wanted creative inspired by a Manhattan clubbing lifestyle. Great as our team was, we lacked club-going New York talent — we all lived in Connecticut.
In those days of “the work happens in the office,” we felt hamstrung. No New York City creatives wanted to travel to our Connecticut office and lose four or five hours every day to a horrible commute. And opening a New York office for this one account didn’t make sense.
Well, that’s not a problem anymore. Where your office is located, or whether you even have an office, shouldn’t matter. Who cares about residential radius or commuting issues when your team can work from their Soho studio, a Tribeca coffee shop, or a Bryant Park WiFi table? You need New York City awareness; you can recruit it now without worry.
That goes for international talent as well. Developing creative for consumption in Europe, Asia, South America, or wherever, can now be done with confidence when you put together your international team. I know from experience. I work every day with creatives from five different continents supporting both major American and international brands. To create this team, our recruiting happens wherever it can and wherever it must.
Diversity Beats Homogeneity
What about the quality of globally-sourced creative? When everyone on your creative team is from the same place, it’s likely that their experiences — and therefore, their worldviews — are also quite similar. This kind of monoculture creates innovation blind spots that the people within it don’t even know they have. They can’t be blamed for some confined thinking. It’s what happens in tightly defined societies.
Melting pots are better. A clash of opinions throws new fire on tried-and-ashen brainstorms. A varied peoples’ exciting array of lived experiences will enliven old solutions. A new set of eyes on your idea will always give surprising feedback. All of this makes the work more alive, more human, and much more honest.
The Huge Benefit of DEI
A global team is guaranteed to be a more diverse team. In addition to the great benefits of diversity described above, these creative teams also experience lower turnover. Did you know that? One explanation of this staff stickiness may be that people on diverse teams recognize their company values talent above all, and that their particular point of view is not only welcome there, but it’s needed.
And that brings up the “passion point.” A happy team is one that will contribute more passion to their work. In this business, we all know that passion breeds more innovation, broader variety, and better differentiation.
Oh Yeah, COVID…
If we learned anything from the pandemic, it’s how to work better under remote conditions. Some companies, like the one I work for, have perfected the work-from-anywhere practice (we’ve been doing it since 2007), and were able to provide guidance to others when the lockdowns came. Now the lockdowns have been lifted, but work will never go back to how it was.
That’s because we discovered how much more we can get done when we don’t waste two, three, or more hours every day on a grueling commute. And how easy it is to start work at 7:00 AM on mornings when you need to quit by 4:00 PM. And how wonderful it is to be able to respond to a kid in distress who suddenly needs a pickup from school.
This remote life relieves many of the old stressors that have traditionally obstructed creative thinking. And with less stress, the mind is open to be more playful, more provocative, more creative. It’s that passion point again.
The Best Pros Want to Be Remote
For all the reasons above, the best professionals now expect remote work consideration from their management. And whether they live in Bogota, Barcelona, or Boston, they’re making remote work a bargaining point in their on-board negotiations. If you want the best creative talent, take off the office-centric blinders and broaden your recruiting net.
That USS Enterprise crew example is a futuristic utopian ideal that we can achieve today if we commit to finding the best talent anywhere and perfecting our ways of working together. Today, I work on a team that lives in 16 countries, in eight time zones, and speaks 22 languages. And we function as a tight unit unified by our mutual respect and pursuit of the best work possible. Dare I say it feels like a family.
Today, we’re global. Someday, we’ll handle art direction on Mars, and who knows where else?