As WFH continues, here's how to maximise creativity from the kitchen table

The long-dreaded ‘second wave’ of COVID-19 has begun to rear its ugly head and we’re likely to be working from home for longer than we’d hoped.

Shakespeare may have done his best work during the plague, but what does this mean for the rest of us, struggling to unmute ourselves on Zoom and come up with ideas from the edge of the kitchen table?

First, let’s debunk the myth that creatives are phoenix-like, magical mystery machines of ideas. The reality for most is that, while we’re (probably) naturally curious, the job is done with graft, research, jumping into the world of our client, crafting and editing. It’s a hard-earned skill, not a superpower. It’s learned.

So, let’s teach it. Now more than ever we realise that we need as many voices as possible to be heard within an agency to get to the best ideas. Get your newest recruit and your creative director contributing, resulting in different backgrounds, experiences and therefore ideas in the mix. The challenge isn’t that people can’t do it, it’s that not enough time is spent thinking about developing a creative culture that gives confidence and gets everyone engaged.

Here’s how we can do this from home.

First, explain where to start. Offer tips on places to go for inspiration, how to look for the news hook and remind that we all need to carve out time to do this. Ideas rarely ‘come to you' as you’re bashing out a photo brief at 4:30pm on a Friday.

Then, suggest alternative ways of contributing.

Zoom, while comfortingly distanced for some, is harshly intense for others. Is there anything more awkward than the 'Zoom-terruption'? Easier to stay on mute than risk it. That and the mental load of being on camera can be a real distraction – we’re all looking at ourselves to check lunch isn’t in our teeth. Camera-off sessions can force focus and ease the angst.

Face-to-face, distanced meet-ups aren’t out of the question. We can’t gather large teams in person, but we can (for those who feel comfortable) identify smaller groups and grab a coffee to get to valuable insights together.

Suggest a return to the humble phone call – how 1999! A walk outside while kicking about ideas on the phone with a colleague can work wonders.

For some, instant messaging is the medium of choice. For a crowdsource of quick, tactical ideas it can be invaluable and is for many a comfortable, informal way to contribute publicly.

Finally, avoid groupthink and offer an opportunity for the introverts to give their thoughts, with brainwriting. Make it simple; email a mini-brief and ask for a timely response.

While challenging, continued working from home could actually be the catalyst we need to bring more of our team into an increasingly diverse creative fold. If creatives spent as much time thinking about how to facilitate ideas as we spend originating them, we’d have a lot more to play with, from a far wider pool of perspectives. A very positive outcome.

Amy Jones is associate creative director at Hope&Glory PR


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