Advice

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks – How Working From Home is Cultivating a Creativity Revolution

Brad Nierenberg, CEO and Founder, RedPeg

When we first made the decision to work from home due to COVID-19, I was anything but enthusiastic about having my team work remotely for the foreseeable future. I was convinced that, as a creative agency, it was crucial for all of our talent to be in the same room. It was my experience, and also my personal joy, to be surrounded by white boards and talented creative minds, vibing off each other’s thoughts, and the excitement of adding onto each other’s ideas. To me, this was essential for cultivating creative ideas for our clients and while I personally love this part of our business, I firmly believed that there was no other way. There’s just something about everyone being in the same room and the energy that it creates that I never thought could be captured or recreated virtually.

Enter COVID-19. From a business standpoint, I worried about how we’d stay productive and united without the physical office environment to keep us on track. I was concerned about the impact that wearing pajamas and hoodies would have on our work mindsets. But most importantly, I feared losing the team energy and culture we’ve worked so hard to foster these past 25 years. Seeing and hearing the different perspectives and experiences that each team member brings to the table, strengthens a company’s ability to grow, excel, and serve its clients. There is no way to truly be part of that culture and work collaboratively and creatively without all being in the same physical location –– or so I thought.

That’s not to say that this crisis and inability to go into the office hasn’t brought its challenges, both personally and professionally, but now I see how WFH has created other positive impacts on how we accomplish our goals.

Productivity powered by technology

Now as ideas begin to percolate, you’re able to reach out to someone with the click of a mouse and get face-to-face with them, instead of having to go through the rigmarole of finding a mutually convenient time and an open conference room. Within minutes, we can reach out to other departments, to bounce ideas around. The sheer speed of delivery for creativity is dramatically increasing, driving a better and faster product for our clients because we’re able to bring in other departments and spitball with trusted partners more efficiently. As a result, this “speed to market” has allowed us to pivot for the short and mid-term to provide strategic and creative solutions in a matter of days, instead of weeks.

If this crisis had occurred five or even two years ago, I might not be so confident, but with today’s technology we’re able to stay better connected and more productive than ever. I always felt like you had to be in the room with a client for them to feel your energy and excitement about a concept. With COVID, we’re not seeing our clients face-to-face, but technology is enabling us to have the opportunity to see our clients’ faces more regularly.

Remembering what we’re working for

It’s rare that we see our team interact with our significant others, family members, and even pets, yet working remotely has almost overnight paved the way for all of us to invite and be invited into our colleagues’ homes, creating deeper connections beyond the workplace. I’ve learned more about my colleagues in these past few months than I have in over the course of several years working together in an office, and I believe that feeling is mutual. My team gets a firsthand – and often raw – glimpse into my home life, and I get a snapshot into theirs, which just can’t happen in a traditional office environment. This provides us the opportunity to not only see more depth in our coworkers and clients, but to feel a different kind of connection with them.

Beyond giving our colleagues a window into our personal lives, we’re also giving our families a look at our work day and making what we do and why we do it, that much more real. Working from home with four young kids for two months has obviously been stressful, but it has also reinforced what I’m working so hard for –– my loved ones. I also feel that the instantaneous sharing is so much more intimate than listing off highlights of your day at dinner after a long drive home. In some cases, I know family members are even helping in the creative process, and I think the developing cohesion between work and family are aiding in the creative ideas we’re able to bring to the table during quarantine.

More time at home, means improved work-life balance

On a simpler level, not having to go into the office gives each of us more time in the day to ensure work-life balance. I would guess that many people have gotten at least an hour of their day back, thanks to the absence of the daily commute and random traffic, allowing us to get more sleep, spend more time on personal or work projects, have lunch as a family or – in my case – always being present at bedtime. Everyone is experiencing tough moments, but overall I believe that our team is thriving, spending the day on their own schedules and with their loved ones while still being unbelievably efficient, proactive, and present.

Of course I’m eager to get back into the office – that’s part of who I am – but at the same time, some of the learnings I’ve taken from our remote communications have been a silver lining throughout this shutdown. Those pre-existing stigmas of lazy days working from home have totally dissipated, and appropriate WFH etiquette is developing in turn. There’s very little to be thankful for as a result of COVID-19, but if there is one thing that this old dog is grateful for, it’s the opportunity that this time and new technologies have presented to teach me a new trick or two.

 

RedPeg CEO/Founder Brad Nierenberg is the man behind the magic. Led by the idea to create an agency he’d aspire to work for, Brad created RedPeg, an award-winning, proudly independent experiential marketing agency. He leads a team of passionate experiential marketers who serve as counsel for brands looking to increase their consumer engagement through impactful activations and lasting memories. Brad’s personal and professional accomplishments match those of RedPeg’s, being named Best Boss by Winning Workplaces, landing a spot on DC Inno’s 50 on Fire list, and spearheading his own million-dollar fundraising platform, Chance for Life. In addition to partnering with influential brands, Brad continues to be a sought-after marketing resource/voice with features in The Washington Business Journal, Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal, and more.

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