The (Critical) Spaces Between
Change is constant, but the last four months have been a massive jolt to people and systems throughout every agency. And adaptations have had to surface to stay focused on the work we’re producing under new circumstances. While the technology adjustments have been substantial, nothing has been more important than finding ways to connect with one another and press on to make something great while we’re apart.
So much of finding your own creative space is about finding the right headspace. In some ways, working remotely allows for easier mental breaks, or to get a needed change of scenery. It can be easier to break out of the typical patterns of work to try to approach a problem differently. It can be easier to focus when interruptions are less frequent. Individually, personal productivity feels as good – or maybe better – in a remote world.
But creative isn’t just about productivity – it has always been a team sport. While individual perspective and talent are a critical piece of the puzzle, the collaborative act of challenging an idea – of looking for a better solution than the obvious – is critical to progressing both the work and the people who make it.
HURDLES: It becomes much clearer how important micro-interactions are to making good creative when it’s harder to have them. The little asides that happen over lunch or at the end of a meeting. Unthought of combinations take shape or new ideas spark from things that start as jokes. It’s harder to just spontaneously chat with your creative partner about those fleeting ideas.
TIPS: Creative partnerships can be harder to maintain with distance. Long the center of creative development, design/copy teams use each other to vet ideas and build upon a particular direction. Having more frequent, even if short, brainstorm sessions with a partner becomes more critical when done remotely. We’ve seen teams set recurring morning and/or evening sessions that make it possible to explore an idea together, then make individual progress during the day, and revisit that progress together again. Frequency seems to be the key to compensate for proximity.
The other aspect of collaboration that requires more commitment is, ironically, spontaneity. Setting recurring brainstorms or check-ins can help move things along, but when an idea strikes or makes a significant turn, getting input or sharing that idea in the moment is important. Calendars be damned when a great idea happens – make a call, send a message – share the spark. Getting excited about an idea and building momentum as a team is as important as having the idea in the first place.
We’ve also seen people cultivating some the “between” spaces before or after Zoom calls. Is your meeting waiting on an attendee to get started? Bounce something off a colleague. Has another meeting ended earlier than expected (when does this happen)? Ask how someone is feeling about the work, or where their head is at. These little moments are important to feeling connected to people you trust. They’re also the keys to maintaining a vibrant creative team culture.
Thanks for tuning in. If you’re finding new ways to create as a team, let us know. We’d love to hear what is or isn’t working about remote creativity.
“So much of finding your own creative space is about finding the right headspace. In some ways, working remotely allows for easier mental breaks, or to get a needed change of scenery.”