A Creative Director’s Contemplations on Remote Work

  • Categories:

    Creative, Inspiration

  • Date:

    July 7, 2020

A Creative Director’s Contemplations on Remote Work



Creative
Inspiration

Over the last few months, we’ve all adjusted to being at home more. For me, that’s meant spending more time with my children and three dogs, helping with schoolwork and finding new routines, all while helping oversee the creative output of Wray Ward. In early March, if you had asked me if it’s possible to manage a creative department, ideate and collaborate while working 100% remotely, all while maintaining a high level of creativity, quality and results, I’d have been skeptical.

Quarantine 2020 proved me wrong.

Our agency has delivered incredible work while working remotely. In the midst of the chaos, my home office has fostered my inner student of technology, seeker of inspiration and believer in collaboration. But while there really is no place like home, there’s also no place like a workspace designed to empower creative professionals to cultivate their craft.

Here are a few things I’ve learned as a creative director working remotely, and why I look forward to returning to the office.

What I’ve Learned

A combination of digital tools works best.

Every company has a different cocktail of tools they use to communicate and work during the pandemic, and our mix is Zoom and the G Suite. Neither platform is synonymous with creative tools, but they’ve been incredibly valuable to our creative process. Zoom gives us the client presentation vehicle, while the G Suite helps us collaboratively build content. I like the ability for multiple people to work within a file at once, as well as the notes, editing and assignment functions.

We were forced to adapt quickly — as was the rest of the world — but within a few days, we had maximized the tools and were already sharing best practices with each other. The fast pivot to these tools and online-only work has allowed us to quickly and efficiently collaborate. For the multichannel campaign work we do for clients, it’s been ideal. It’s a resource we’ll take even greater advantage of when we’re all under one roof.

A perk: Without being able to “read the room” during a remote presentation, Zoom’s chat function has helped me privately gesture to and prompt my team members during meetings in a way that The Brady Bunch screen view just doesn’t allow.

Working from home has made us even more inspired — about home.

We know from our agency research over the last few months that home improvement projects have continued to be important to consumers during the pandemic. And, because of the shared experience of being at home, we get it in ways we probably hadn't before. After all, we are also at home, staring at windows that need new blinds, light fixtures we wish we’d updated, and floors, doors and furniture we’d like to replace.

Our persona and insight work at Wray Ward is based on primary and secondary research, of which we, as individuals, have become engrained. When I meet with our brand teams to ideate for LEVOLOR or Floor & Decor, I have greater insight than ever before into the minds of our target audiences and what leads them down the path from inspiration to purchase. I’m living it and breathing it, and it’s led to inspired creative work over the last few months.

Creativity isn’t isolated to one location.

Our office is known for being colorful, modern and fun, with collaboration spaces throughout the building — and this fall, our new office will be even better. Creativity flows throughout Wray Ward. We have always been lucky to work in a space designed to bring people together and encourage the generation of new ideas.

But working from home has also provided me with a seamless flow of ideas. I’m inspired by my family, artwork in my home office, being in our yard and even the new pace of life. The change of scenery has had its advantages and challenges. Is it possible to think through creative strategy with a 7-year-old running in and out of the room or three dogs barking at various times throughout the day (thanks for the mute button, Zoom)? Surprisingly, yes. We can be creative wherever we need to be and regardless of the circumstances — we just have to give ourselves the time and flexibility to make it happen.

What I’m Looking Forward To

A return to in-person collaboration — with paper.

So much of design work is a tactile experience: laying out sheets of paper with new logo designs, then taking a step back. Maybe you throw away a few options. Or, you put them on the wall and mark them up with a pen (so much more rewarding than a virtual sticky note or highlighter.) I miss a room wallpapered with oversized Post-It Notes and Sharpies and empty pizza boxes strewn across the table. My creative taste buds water in anticipation of having work on paper in my hands again — and the rush you get when you know something new and great is literally within your grasp.

Hallway conversations that lead to good ideas.

As easy as it is to Zoom chat or send a text, you can’t replace those spontaneous hallway conversations that inevitably lead to the exchange of good ideas or a breakthrough moment in a project. As much time as we’ve had to spend physically apart from each other the last few months, I think our office hallways will be filled with valuable communication when we return. All the widgets and gadgets and apps in the world can’t replace in-person interaction.

The chance to turn over a new leaf.

After so many months of working from home and adapting to a different way of working, I’ve learned that I thrive on creative chaos and change. And with our quickly approaching move, Wray Ward has big changes ahead. A fresh start to inspire us every day. Another chance to wipe the slate clean in a tumultuous year and continue to bring our best thinking to the table.

Working remotely hasn’t been easy, but I’ve learned to make the most of it (actually, I’d say our dogs have made the most of it) and find some silver linings. But I’m looking forward to getting back to work, at work, with my co-creators and collaborators.

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