Due to the nature of the work, the marketing industry, by and large, has been slow to widely embrace flexible working arrangements. But all of that changed in March 2020, when 74% of marketing professionals found themselves working from home—and with mixed results. Nearly one-third reported difficulties with collaboration and taking part in creative work.
While many marketers are returning to the workplace, an increasing number will be staying put and using the physical office space as more of a hub for occasional work sessions. This shift will require those in the industry (including myself) to reconstruct how they construct. You may no longer have the luxury of walking the aisles to chat up a co-worker and use the discussion to inspire ideas. Now, and most likely moving forward, the typical interaction will be a short, scheduled call with a teammate.
For me, I find myself spending more energy to ensure what I’m using for inspiration isn’t part of a larger pattern of my perception of the world. Otherwise, my work quickly becomes repetitive or, worse yet, derivative. And being that my cat isn’t much of a conversationalist, I have to find other ways to organically spark my subconscious creativity.
Luckily, sources of inspiration aren’t in short supply, and it often takes little more than a change in scenery to pull new flavor into the work.
Reconstructing the Ways We Construct
Though you’re no doubt somewhat used to this new normal, it’s important to remain cognizant of how your day-to-day activities inspire creativity. Here are just a few strategies that have worked for me:
Break the Routine
Working remotely may do wonders for productivity, autonomy, and flexibility, but it can also lead to long uninterrupted stints of just sitting behind your desk. For the sake of your well-being, make room in your schedule to take periodic breaks, and I don’t mean going on the same walk each day — something I’ve been guilty of. That can get stale over time. Instead, inject some variety into your life by doing and seeing new things. Variety is the spice of life, so getting out and about can be a huge source of inspiration and help maintain your focus.
Reach Out to Old Friends
In the same vein as adding variety to your day, a wide net of support is essential to your social and mental health. Respect and nurture your relationships. Even if you might feel awkward reaching out to somebody you haven’t spoken to in a year, consider how you would feel hearing a friendly, familiar voice after all that time. It can make you feel more connected to the outside world. I’ve been on both ends, and as awkward as it is reaching out to people, it really is flattering and lovely when people take the time to reconnect.
Take Time Off
According to recent reports, 75% of employees say they’ve experienced burnout, and the risk for depression appears to be on the rise — double for all U.S. workers compared with pre-pandemic life and quadruple for those between the ages of 20 and 39. Part of this could be due to a lack of work-life balance, as many people have all but shelved taking time off during the pandemic. While it might be tempting to bank PTO for a later date or to take occasional half days when you still end up sitting at your desk, it’s critical to take a few days off from time to time. Stepping fully away from work can be very restorative when paired with quality self-care, allowing you to come back more productive than if you were to push through for days on end.
Inspiration, workflow, and post-work catharsis will always be the components of reconstruction — or construction, for that matter. In a more insulated world, it just takes more time and attention to ensure you’re varying your creative sources to inform your work. But getting out from behind your desk, nurturing both old and new connections, and finding that balance between work and life are all steps in the right direction. There’s still plenty of the world to explore, even during a pandemic.