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This content was written by the advertiser and edited by Studio/B to uphold The Boston Globe's content standards. The news and editorial departments of The Boston Globe had no role in its writing, production, or display.

Is it time to rethink how creative work gets done?

As we look beyond the pandemic era, brands and creative teams must determine a new normal that blends the best of in-office collaboration with focused at-home efficiency.

Last March, many of us left our offices with the expectation that we’d spend a few weeks working from home while this COVID situation died down. We had no idea what was to come.

But now, a year later, there’s a hopeful light at the end of the tunnel. Those of us in the creative world are starting to think about what work will look like when we all return to “normal.” Or rather, what work *should* look like after a pandemic that has shifted our priorities and sharply accelerated the normalization of remote work.

Creative work, whether it’s graphic design, typography, or writing, is somewhat paradoxical in that it thrives on two opposing things: Collaboration, and being left the hell alone.

Working at home has its benefits, but it can make collaboration a challenge for some teams.

That latter aspect can be challenging in an office environment, where background chatter, random interruptions, bad lighting, and other factors can disrupt a person’s creative process. Walk through any design department and you’ll see a range of coping mechanisms in use: Oversized headphones, zhuzhed-up workspaces, or even people abandoning their desks to work in the privacy of a conference room.

Home may be a more comfortable and productive work environment for many designers, but it raises major challenges for the collaborative elements of the job. All creative work is ultimately a team effort, starting with creative briefs and brainstorms and concluding with a cycle of reviews and revisions. And while a lot of that can be scheduled, there is an element of spontaneity inherent in creative collaboration that is difficult to replicate from remote workspaces.

Of course, creatives today are fortunate to have an array of collaboration software available that facilitates at least some of that spur-of-the-moment interaction. Slack, Zoom, and other platforms are all effective at connecting people across physical distances. Still, designers will need to keep up the collaborative momentum long-term, needing to be fully in sync, sharing ideas, drafts, feedback, and brand assets like fonts.

“We’re working, living, and playing within the same four walls,” says James Sommerville, co-founder of KNOWN_UNKNOWN, and a recent guest on Monotype’s Creative Characters podcast. “One of the upsides of [this experience], is that I feel more task-oriented and less time-oriented. It’s more about asking myself what I want to accomplish that day. I think people will come out of this with a new approach to work and subsequently to life.”

As we look toward a new future, it’s probably best not to think of these circumstances as temporary, but instead as a chance (and perhaps your best chance) to adapt for the longer-term.

Companies like Twitter, Spotify, Shopify, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and many more have announced varying degrees of permanence to a “digital-by-default” workforce. More and more, employees are considering the ability to work from anywhere as a critical element of an employment decision.

More than 75 percent of the respondents in a recent IBM survey indicated “they would like to continue to work remotely at least occasionally, while more than half – 54 percent – would like this to be their primary way of working.” Companies that may have been five, 10, or even 15 years away from embracing the potential of remote work are starting to wake up as well.

In fact, a Gartner survey revealed that “post-pandemic, 41 percent of employees are likely to work remotely at least some of the time.” Another survey found that 74 percent of chief financial officers “intend to move at least 5 percent of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions.”

The future of work may be “work from anywhere” teams.

What if, instead of moving our in-office experience remote, we could take the best parts of in-person collaboration and merge them with the focus and command-of-schedule that comes from a “work-from-anywhere” policy?

For many employers, blending the best of these worlds will mean an increased reliance on cloud-based collaboration software, and some willingness to experiment, iterate, and learn from mistakes. The goal — and the challenge — is to empower creative teams with tools that help them connect and collaborate while keeping their workflow smooth and efficient. That’s a difficult balance to strike.

The answer? Simplify your solutions.

Many brands still store assets like fonts on local servers or even individual team members’ computers, which creates a major challenge when teams can’t access them. Cloud-based asset management, like our Monotype Fonts solution, provides a central management system that teams can access from anywhere, anytime.

Coupled with cloud-based design programs, this allows your creative teams to work unimpeded in a new marketplace. But don’t stop there. It’s not just technology that creates hurdles to success. Changing the psychology of collaboration when teams aren’t together in the same room, and tapping into available expertise to problem solve from afar will take concerted effort from brand and creative leaders in the coming months and years.

Monotype creative director James Fooks-Bale likens the remote work experience to a theme park ride, each of us riding through the highs and lows on our way to something more stable. “There’s enough going on that you could be forgiven for thinking it’s just destruction, fracturing, and pain,” he says. “It’s easy to forget that the pain is the sign of something new emerging, something we’re working together to create and solve for. It’s about all of us individually and collectively defining what post-normal will look like.”

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This content was written by the advertiser and edited by Studio/B to uphold The Boston Globe's content standards. The news and editorial departments of The Boston Globe had no role in its writing, production, or display.