Like many companies, the past couple months have given Sells Agency the opportunity to learn first-hand what it takes to function as a team in a seemingly un-team like way. How does a company that relies so heavily on creative thinking, creating, and collaboration function remotely without letting the distance kill morale and slow productivity? We don’t know it all yet, but the further into this we go, the more we learn.
Below are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way.
Create Structure - What day is it?
Pre-COVID, our entire office would gather at a massive white board each morning and run through all the tasks and meetings for the day. This half-hour every morning was an opportunity to get a feel for everyone’s workload and to make sure we were all on the same page regarding deadlines.
When we transitioned to working from home, we shifted our meeting to Google Hangout. Keeping this practice has helped our team stay connected each day and retain a sense of normalcy. Plus – for me anyway – it helps me keep track of what day it is since I don’t leave the house often and my days are all running together.
As a team of creators, internal reviews are one of the most important parts of the creative process. Some of the most “inspired” edits are made when it’s just our Sells Agency creative team reviewing a piece of artwork or a video. Being able to read each other’s body language and tone as we talk through ideas and give feedback is key to clear understanding. So, Google Hangouts have become an important tool of reviewing concepts. It doesn’t beat in-person meetings, but it gets the job done.
We don’t know when we’ll get back to the office, but we do know we’ll be taking new stories and jokes with us.
For example, most days, I wear a red baseball hat with the letters “PB” stitched on the front. I got this hat at spring training years ago for the Palm Beach Cardinals, which is an A-Ball affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals (I’m a Cardinals fan – and I miss baseball). Of course, I’m the only person who knows what PB means, which has caused my creative coworkers to come up with new meanings for “PB”: Peanut Butter, Pine Bluff, Pottery Barn… see?? Bringing people together, creating connections, creating something new.
Another fun development (on many levels) is that my two boys have discovered the pure joy of bombing a video conference call. Trying to figure out what their dad actually does when he’s working creates opportunities for them to sneak into frame and start asking questions about the people they see on the screen. Out Loud. It’s fun. Luckily, my coworkers get it – most of us have little kids at home. Every now and then, another one of the agency kiddos will weasel their way into their parent’s lap during our morning meeting. I’ve noticed the kids silently communicating with each other with a wave or maybe showing off a toy... which is pretty cute. This shifting of our view of what professionalism looks like today has been interesting to watch.
Working from home can be great, except for the fact that you’re home. The pull of home life can be strong, whether it’s the kiddos, spouse, or just the regular chores we all deal with, so having a place that allows you to focus on work and filter out those ever-present draws on your attention is important to continuing your productivity at home. I have turned a junk room into my WFH office. I’ve also found that a good set of noise canceling headphones is a strong tool to keep distractions at bay.
Create For Yourself
As creatives, we have a need to make something or solve some kind of creative problem. We do this for our clients every day, but it is important to create for ourselves as well. Whether it’s making new music, taking photographs on film, sewing facemasks for people, or even remodeling a bathroom… making something that is personal is an important way to help relieve some of the stress of a less-than-optimal working environment.