Nobody working in digital creative works the way workers worked in the past. Old-school work modes are less flexible, while modern work modes are built for maximum flexibility. 9-5 is done, even for many office workers. Work-life balance, parenting pressures, home life, are ending the industrial age work schedule, traditional hierarchies, and even work ethics.
I come from the 9-5 work world (and was never comfortable in it). Now I work when I’m at my best and available for communication and collaboration when I know my clients are at their best. 9-5 days are now rare. But 10-10 days, with hours dug out in-between for family and passion-projects, are not.
This kind of scheduling only works with the support of online collaboration tools:
- Smartphone on AND charged. Always.
- Video-conferencing (with screen-sharing) and conference-calling capabilities (on various platforms, like Join.me, Zoom, WebEx, FreeConferenceCall.com, etc.) available at a moments notice.
- File-Sharing (using various platforms like Dropbox, Office365, Google Docs, Box, and WeTransfer) always ready.
- Frequently being added to client project management and team communication tools (like Asana, Basecamp, Monday, Slack, and Workfront).
- Using creative collaboration tools like Trello Boards, and Mural.
- And finally, discovering ways to automate repetitive tasks and using scheduling tools to meet delivery needs (for instance social calendars like SproutSocial or HootSuite or email automation tools like those in apps like Mailchimp).
Most of these tools have nothing to do with the actual work of doing creative. It’s all about collaboration. All the things that get done in a physical office still need to get done in your modern work mode too, so these tools (and scores of similar ones) replace, and usually improve on, those functions.
Collaboration is Required Learning
The difficult part is that you don’t always get to choose which ones you will work with because sometimes you have to connect and collaborate within the tools your clients are using—and you either work with them, or you don‘t. But not doing so weakens your ability to collaborate with many companies. And them allowing you access to their inner-workings is a sign of trust in your work quality and ability to be flexible. Sometimes it’s also a determinant as to whether they will continue supplying you work.
Learning as You Go
We have worked with every tool in that list—and many, many more. That’s the flexibility needed in modern work modes. But we’re not experts in every one of them. Some we use all the time (like SproutSocial and Mailchimp), some we use for specific clients (like Workfront), and others we use infrequently, but know enough to navigate to the things we need (like Slack). And that’s fine. Familiarity will make you better at them—the important thing is to not be afraid to learn new ways to collaborate ALL THE TIME. It’s a powerful advantage. And eventually, all of them will seem more familiar.
And if you don’t want to keep learning new tools, there’s always a 9-5 job waiting for you.