AdWeek Special Report: 6 Tips to Help Creativity and Quarantine Co-Exist
In times like these I find it particularly important to share news and helpful information wherever and whenever I come across it. Such is the case with this blog post. Thanks to Adweek and its contributor, Sara Spary for the article on which this blog is based.
In the creative world, we’re used to people getting together, face-to-face, to collaborate and exchange ideas, to, well, create that next great ad or TV commercial. So what does one do when quarantine is the order of the day for just about all the known universe?
Demands for making the abnormal as close to normal abound from clients and prospective ones. Business as usual it’s not. So, how is this all working out thus far?
The trade publication Adweek asked veteran creatives around the world to “share their experiences and advice on how to keep the creative juices flowing from home”—even when COVID-19 is knocking on the front door.
Since you’re already used to doing this, why stop now?
“We’ve made it a point to keep interactions face-to-face whenever possible. Every meeting, regroup, catch-up, brainstorm session—no matter how big or small—is done through Google Hangouts,” said Ryan Engelbert, creative director at We Are Social New York. “It’s forced us to be even more focused on each other and more accountable for the information and ideas that are being exchanged.”
This feels weird, not to mention a bit awkward
Engelbert’s creative partner and fellow creative director Casey De Pont recommends creatives embrace the occasional awkwardness that comes with video calls, since you never know where such moments may lead.
“Video chat still feels awkward to us as humans,” Du Pont said. “There’s a lot of pressure for maximum productivity and zero wasted time when you’re digitally staring each other down, but creative development doesn’t work that way.”
Not everybody may be used to video chat but not everybody is used to uninterrupted speech in a live conference room meeting either. Goof ups and unintended pauses work the same as if you were humanly in the same room with one another.
“You need the awkward pauses and the space between ideas to let things breathe and develop. The more we can be real people in the virtual space, the more comfortable we’ll become working there,” she said.
Be a Space Cadet
Spending time alone in quarantine gives you the time to quietly explore ideas and concepts without any critics jumping down your throat. You’ve got plenty of space to think out loud if you want.
Droga5 copywriter Gabe Santana like it this way. “I think the best part about working from home is that I can lie down on the floor and say bad ideas out loud without bothering anyone,” Santana said. “Except Germany, of course.”
That would be Germany Lancaster, Droga5 art director, Santana’s creative partner and self-proclaimed homebody. Lancaster prefers to brainstorm alone and mull it all down to a few good concepts “before meshing ideas” with Santana.
“Once I’ve got a couple ideas down, I like to either present them to my partner in a deck or chat through them in hopes that they springboard into something grand. Chatting through ideas always leads to lots of laughs, so that’s definitely a bonus,” Lancaster said.
Establish a Stronger Relationship
Working remotely can really strengthen that and those relationship(s).
For Ludovic Miege, copywriter at Havas Paris, working remotely hasn’t been too much of a problem so far because he and his creative partner, art director Jordan Molina, have worked together for six years.
“For us, working like this is not very complicated because we know how to work together and do not need to see each other to work,” he said. “We can call each other all day long using Facebook, Whatsapp, Gmail, Zoom. We have many ways to communicate and exchange our ideas.
“Because of our long relationship, we know how the other one understands things. You are more efficient when your partnership is strong.”
Have a Flexible Routine
Working remotely can feel odd and awkward to those not used to doing it. Don’t overdo the video conferences and calls just to prove something. Remember, too many conference calls can lead to less time for thinking.
But Madrid-based Javier Campopiano, who recently joined Grey as chief creative officer of Grey Europe and Global, warns this will only lead to burnout. He says keeping structure in your day is important.
“Right now, I try to keep a routine. My kids are not going to school so we don’t need to wake up as usual, but we’re trying to keep the same schedule. I try to exercise on the balcony, because I can’t go for a run—we can get a fine—so I exercise and then shower,” he told Adweek. “I dress up to work, maybe less formally than I usually do, and I sit in front of my computer in my little office here at home.”
So you work in your pajamas. So what?
Depending on what kind of routine one is used to doing, spending the day in your PJ’s may feel very normal. If not, that’s okay, too.
Mariana Albuquerque, a creative copywriter working in Ireland suggests “the main challenge is not being distracted by other people—or animals—in your home, and understanding the time to start working and finishing it,” she said. “Since I’ve been working from home for a week, I’ve created a routine for myself. I do wear comfy PJs, though. It doesn’t make me feel lazy at all. But I do comb my hair in case of a video call.”
Her creative partner and art director, Carina Caye Branco, urges the most important thing of all is open communication.
“Communication is key, and trying to organize our day and tasks. Be online all the time, or at least tell your partner if you need to go offline and how long,” she said. “And keep a record of everything you’re thinking/doing. [That has] been proving really helpful for us.”