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A pandemic doesn’t have to inspire pandemonium.

By Chad Gordon | April 29, 2020

dR_20-04-28_Chad_Creative Team Interview Blog

Yes, the times they are a changing. But what we’ve discovered is that as much as some processes have changed, other aspects have stayed the same. Here’s an inside look at how our creative team at designRoom has adapted to working from remote.

 

 

1. What are you currently working on? 

 
Chad – 

“The last two weeks have had us working on final logo design approvals for two clients (Illinois Collaboration on Youth and Connexus). We’re also fleshing out the rest of those visual identities with brand guidelines, a website architecture and plans for a whole range of marketing materials.

There is a lot of excitement and energy when a rebrand comes to life! And this is my favorite stage of the process.”

 
Anna

“We’re busy enough to keep me out of trouble. We just finished one set of brand guidelines. We’re about to begin final logo production for another client. And we’re managing production work for several campaigns.”

 
Shaun

“Right now, I’m working on the website redesign for Illinois Collaboration on Youth. I appreciate projects for clients that really make a difference.”

 

2. Has this new environment changed how you approach client’s projects and objectives?

 
Chad

“Good questions. While the process and tools remain the same, we’ve had to adapt to working remotely, of course. But it has felt surprisingly seamless to me. Now, we were already setup for this from a technical standpoint. But mentally, we are all looking at each project through what I call a “COVID-19 lens.” We have to ask ourselves how, or if, this environment effects messaging and design. Then, we make adjustments when and where they make sense – in a way that’s authentic and never patronizing.”

 

Anna

“Funny you should ask. For me, I have to say not really. Sure, we still have deadlines and our clients still need timely work. That part hasn’t changed.”

 

Shaun

“I have to say, it really hasn’t changed how I approach projects or objectives. But, some of our client’s have relied heavily on hosting in-person events, trainings, and medical consultation. So, we are helping transition them – to help them think differently about how they can continue to offer these same services during the pandemic. My personal experience using applications like Zoom and Instagram has helped me stay connected and collect ideas. And I’m happy to report we have never been Zoom bombed. *fingers crossed*”

 

3. How have you been able to maintain effectiveness on client projects? 

 

Chad

“It’s still all about the process from a creative standpoint. How we execute that process had to be adjusted, but it remains intact. Fortunately, we were set up in advance to do it this way. We’ve had to maximize our digital systems. We have entire team status meetings twice a day. We’ve done work on a national scale for quite a while now, so client meetings in Zoom have been routine. Brainstorming and creative meetings are done virtually now. That can be tricky – especially when you’re trying to discuss things like color swatches. To be honest, I prefer creative meetings in person. But I can say I feel like there has been no drop-off in the outcomes.”

 

Anna

“dR’s daily check-ins help keep me on track. I keep my phone on silent during work hours, and keep a pot of coffee nearby. Coffee helps. Coffee always helps.”

 

Shaun

“Hmm…in-person meetings have special meaning now because I feel the energy from the people in the meeting. The same now goes for our virtual meetings. Trying to maintain my own personal energy and also read everyone else’s virtually has been a new learning experience.”

 

4. How has this affected your team’s creative dynamic?

 

Chad

“So, I know this may sound funny, but I think we may actually interact more now when we are all working remotely. Sure, the communication has to be more formalized since we can’t just walk across the office. That has been one benefit that I think will carry over. I miss the in-person interaction though – you know, that small talk during breaks that really helps keep our team together. We do catch up during video status meetings, but it’s not quite the same.”

 

Anna

“We’ve had to get more intentional about how we communicate, which is mostly a good thing. But we’re a pretty quiet team anyways, so the working remote hasn’t affected us that much. I do miss in-person brainstorming though.”

 

Shaun

“I would say it feels like the creative dynamic has become more organized. Our normally scheduled meetups usually allow us to collaborate and critique our work at a consistent time every day. Before we would have to schedule the meetings.”

 

5. How has this affected your creativity personally? 

 

Chad

“The uncertainty of what was (and still is) happening was overwhelming and stressful. The first couple of weeks working from home I felt untethered. But I have to say, creativity has actually been a nice escape from the anxiety associated from COVID-19. Being able to fall back on what I enjoy, know how to do well, and control, has been helpful. That, plus working from home has allowed me to intensify my focus in many ways. Creatives tend to excel in solitary environments for stretches of time.”

 

Anna

“Creativity doesn’t feel as easy as it has in the past, but I’m still able to produce things I’m proud of.”

 

Shaun

“Oddly enough, it’s affected my creativity in a positive way. Outside of work I’ve taken the opportunity to get in touch with my personal passions – Polaroid photography and art – and that’s subtly influenced the way I approach my designs.”

 

6. What’s something about working remotely you didn’t expect to dislike as much as you do? 

 

Chad

“Here’s the thing, I’m naturally an introvert, but I do really miss the in-person interactions. I already mentioned that creatives need their space, but we also need that interaction with other creatives and the other members of the staff. It helps make the work better. It gets a little cabin-feverish here after a while, and my dog still doesn’t talk back to me… yet.”

 

Anna

“Days with a lot of Zoom calls – unexpectedly exhausting!”

 

Shaun

“The truth is, I like talking to people – not just colleagues or friends. I learned something every day from people I’d meet in the elevator, cafe, or parking lot. There is something meaningful in the simple interactions with strangers.”

 

7. On the flip side, what’s something about working remotely you didn’t expect to enjoy as much as you do? 

 

Chad

“Listen, I knew I’d love eliminating the commute. That’s given me two extra hours a day!”

 

Anna

“What didn’t I expect to enjoy as much? I’d say sitting on comfortable furniture at lunch. I really enjoy the flexibility of schedule – I am more productive in the afternoon, so I like being able to start a little later and work later as well.”

 

Shaun

“Is it weird that I appreciate working in the evening? I mean, there’s no rush to leave at 5.”

 

8. What suggestions do you have for those struggling with working remotely?

 

Chad

“It’s still a job, so treat it the same as if you were going to your office every day. Sounds simple, but create a routine and maintain it. It’s too tempting to fall into bad habits with the comforts of home surrounding you. I still try to wear the same clothes I would wear to work every day. I get up every day at the same time. Well, a little later than before because of no commute. I take lunch at the same time. I shut it down at the same time – deadlines permitting. One last thing relating to Covid-19 that I’d recommend – limit your news intake. It’s too stressful and counter-productive. I catch up on the high-level news each day and then shut it off.”

 

Anna

“Don’t sit anywhere too comfortable if you’re having trouble focusing! Give yourself an incentive to get work done.”

 

Shaun

“Make a daily routine. If you can’t make a routine, have something you do at least once a day that helps ground yourself. I walk my dog every morning at the same time. Most importantly, I learned to set the last few minutes of my day to be grateful to be working.”

 

9. What are two key things in your home office that help you work better – excluding the computer itself)?

 

Chad

“The office itself. This has motivated me to finish decorating and organizing it. It’s a very calming, creative environment. I love working in here. Another plus – I have my own personal bathroom!”

 

Anna

“Mechanical keyboard – I’m sending more emails than ever, and it would be a bad time to develop carpal tunnel. Netflix reruns – background noise helps me get in the zone.”

 

Shaun

“Playing Spotify through my HomePod and my dog lying next to me. I appreciate the moral support.”

 

10. Have you taken any after lunch naps? What do you wear during video meetings?

 

Chad

“No lunch naps. I either read at lunch or I’ll watch an episode of Dexter. I just started re-watching the series. Like I said, I try to wear the same clothes at home that I would at work… keeps me in the “I’m at work” mindset. However, I don’t wear shoes! Which is nice.”

 

Anna

“No naps! Too hard to come back from them. Fleece-lined leggings have been essential.”

 

Shaun

“One time I had a large portion of left-over spaghetti and meatballs for lunch. I was so tired after eating it, I crashed face-down on my computer keyboard and spilled cold coffee all over my lap. I had no choice but to lay down for 30 minutes. I mean my couch was right there. And I’m also always wearing my hippie sandals.”

 

Social distancing may keep us from up-close and personal client meetings and check-ins, but know that we are always an email, phone call, text or Zoom meeting away. We appreciate your business. In fact, it helps keep us all grounded and moving forward.

 

 

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Author

Chad Gordon

Chad is the Creative Director, overseeing the development of virtually every original design. Chad studied photography in Edinburgh, Scotland, and has a degree in photo illustration from Ohio University. In 1991 he worked with Reuben and Company as a photo assistant before joining designRoom as a designer the following year. Chad has received numerous national awards, has shared in his team’s many Addy Awards, and has had his work published in several international design publications. Chad is experienced in all phases of creative design, including concept development, art direction, photography, typography, print production, and website design. Chad’s specialties are photo illustration and identity development. His unique infrared photography has been shown in numerous galleries around northeast Ohio. He is an avid baseball man, a crafty pitcher with speed and movement on his fastball, and played on championship teams in the Roy Hobbs League.

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