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“Replicating your office experience at home doesn’t work”: Get Sh*t Done X Creativebrief

Creativebrief partnered with Get Sh*t Done for an international virtual event that explored the new world of work, offering practical advice and support in how to navigate this new normal.

Izzy Ashton

Deputy Editor, BITE

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Whether juggling home school with working from home, isolating away from loved ones, navigating the furlough scheme or simply trying to make sure we eat well, the current global crisis has rapidly dismantled what we took to be our normal.

The new world we’re entering sees us applaud our key workers on weekday evenings, meet clients in the comfort of their own homes and attend Zoom events from our kitchen tables. One such event was the Creativebrief X Get Sh*t Done lunchtime power hour that saw a discussion revolving around just what the New Normal looks like.

Co-hosted by Nicola Kemp, Managing Editor of BITE and Rebecca Rowntree, Creative Director and Founder of This Way Up podcast, the event was designed to be open to all; to create a fluid dialogue between those listening in and those sharing their advice.

Working under lockdown

It was a truly international event, as so many virtual get-togethers can be now, welcoming people as far flung as India, Paris, Berlin and Edinburgh. The chat feature on Zoom remained open throughout, packed with recommendations and questions as well as advice from the attendees.

The panel opened by sharing their own experiences of working under lockdown. Kemp revealed that a conference video call she’d been on had also starred her son doing an impromptu naked dance behind her head while Sereena Abbassi, Worldwide Head of Culture and Inclusion at M&C Saatchi said her best moment had been hosting a two person rave in her living room with her boyfriend.

Jane Evans, Founder of The Uninvisibility Project, has been running her own business from home for the last 20 years and single-handedly raising two children. With those children now young adults, Evans says the most welcome change has been that in their boredom, they’ve started cooking for her. Vikki Ross, Copy Chief, consultant, speaker and mentor echoes Evans’ experience, saying that after 11 years working from home, not much has changed for her except she’s had to promote her husband into a multi-faceted role encompassing HR, tech support and front-of-house.

When you seamlessly bring your home life into your work life, people enjoy it.

Jane Evans

Break up your day; you don’t have to commit yourself to the 9 to 5

Ross believes that’s it’s vital to break up your day: “you don’t have to confine yourself to the nine ‘til five.” She’s an advocate for stepping away from the desk to refresh your mind at any point in the day, whether that’s to have an afternoon nap or simply stare at something different.

Evans agrees, revealing that she always takes a lunch break in which she’ll sit down and watch an episode of something on TV. For Abbassi it’s about making “mealtimes an occasion.” As Rowntree emphasises, it’s important to recognise the power that can come from both being non-traditional and working in a non-traditional way. She actually feels, “it’s worked to my advantage sometimes.”

Evans believes that “when you seamlessly bring your home life into your work life, people enjoy it.” Her advice is to be honest with those around you, let your children onto your video calls if you need to and make no apologies for your reality. As Kemp adds, “replicating your office experience at home doesn’t work.”

Slow down your communication

Evans shared her learnings from running a business remotely for the last two decades. Her greatest piece of advice? “Slowing down communication is a good way of coping.” She says that her team work almost exclusively on email, allowing people the space to reply as and when they need to. As she says, “life happens,” and, if something is urgent, they simply pick up the phone.

For Abbassi, “teams need to be better at communication and respecting boundaries.” Whilst this is essential within an office, it has become even more so as the world of work has moved almost exclusively online, at least for the advertising and communications industry. Abbassi feels grateful for the time this lockdown has gifted her, likening it to her time at university, which gave her space, much like this, to “reflect and research.”

Evans also believes that nothing good ever comes from a brainstorm; she wants to see them got rid of. Instead of scheduling in two-hour brainstorms every other day, she says she’s an “advocate for giving people who know how to solve problems the space to.”

You only have enough energy for today, not for tomorrow. So, deal with today’s problems today and tomorrow’s tomorrow.

Vikki Ross

Be kind to yourself, and to those around you

Ross talked about the movement she started the #copywritersunite movement on Twitter, through which she aims to support the copy writing community by sharing jobs, work and ideas across her own platform. Ross says, “I wanted to use my voice to draw attention to other people;” something that she is continuing to do during the pandemic.

Evans believes that now is the “time for everyone to step up, particularly leaders.” This means providing the appropriate support for staff, particularly emotionally. It also extends more broadly to a community of businesses because, as she adds, “some of us are going to do well out of this so we need to share that with others.”

Evans is also an advocate for being kind to yourself, inviting people to “use this time to look at the future you want to create for yourself.” Abbassi echoed this sentiment when she spoke about feeling the need to step away from agency life into a consultant role: “This is a huge period of reflection for me.”

Make the world of work more inclusive

Evans revealed that her workforce is made up of women over the age of 45, typically those who are often frozen out of the advertising industry. For Evans, she believes that “our wisdom, experience and cool heads are going to be needed more than ever.”

She also highlighted the opportunity that this shift to remote working, particularly to hosting remote events, will create for the disabled community, so long shut out of industry events due to a lack of forward planning or inclusive venues.

Kemp believes that employers have a responsibility to “keep diversity in mind, particularly when it comes to the gender pay gap.” The panel discussed how, while some individuals will still be sticking to the traditional familial roles, others will diversify, and will, says Evans, hopefully “come back into the office with a greater respect for how things are run at home.”

Protect your mental health

Every panel member spoke about the importance of protecting their own mental health, something they advised attendees to take serious steps towards safeguarding. For Ross, that fundamentally comes down to being careful with social media; “come off social media or curate your feed so it suits you,” she advises. She shared a quote from a friend about using your energy wisely: “You only have enough energy for today, not for tomorrow. So, deal with today’s problems today and tomorrow’s tomorrow.”

For Evans, this starts with gratitude; focus on what you’ve got and remember that “we’re all allowed to melt down every now and again.” Evans’ advice is simple: “We have an opportunity to build what we want out of this and to use our voice to ask for what we want.”