Staying Creative Through Crises May Save Us All

Okay, the title of this post may be a bit dramatic, but we’re in uncharted territory here. In the face of an unprecedented business environment where most organizations have pivoted to a 100% virtual model, it can be a massive challenge to keep your teams motivated and thinking creatively.

So, how are we adapting to keep the spark alive?

Helping helps. While employee experience is always a focus for us, we find that the pressure and frustrations associated with having to juggle added roles we never imagined like "homeschool teacher" and "IT specialist" increases the likelihood of burnout. Augmenting our existing plan with additional employee-focused digital content has inspired us to think in new ways because the primary function isn’t to drive leads, but to give people a break, make them smile and let them refocus for a moment.

Giving our employees tools and creative assets to help them decompress has provided a motivational boost. For example, we’ve created a coloring book for kids and adults, puzzles for World Password Day and a search and find for parents to keep their kids busy for a few minutes. We also made Bring Your Child to Work Day and our usual Hackathon events virtual, which was a bright spot for all who touched them.

And, let’s not forget that creative skillsets can have impact on a larger scale—such as when the United Nations put out an open call for creative campaigns to combat the spread of COVID-19. Or, when our friends over at Tiny Milkshake Media started a weekly animated logo giveaway for small businesses who’ve been impacted by the shutdown.

Keep collaboration alive. Collaboration tools are essential in virtual environments. Those who work from home have been dialed into this for some time. Keep in mind, however, that these tools can be used to supplement work with a bit of fun. For example, we have a Slack channel that is dedicated to our pets. I know that nothing helps keep me going like a few snapshots of my colleagues’ brand-new baby chicks. It’s also a place to share the creativity produced by others, such as the deluge of hilarious memes we're seeing or Fox's Zoom background of The Simpsons' living room.

Brush up on or learn new skills. Training and development are huge in keeping our neurotransmitters firing and there are plenty of virtual resources out there to provide content. I’m a huge proponent of LinkedIn learning. However, if you don’t have access to paid content, there are plenty of free or low-cost options available. Coursera and Udemy offer coursework across a wide spectrum of arts and creative tracks. Make it easy on your team and build out a training plan with various options for soft and hard skills on easily accessible platforms.

Take (and offer) time off. Why would I take a vacation when there’s nowhere to actually go? It’s a question we’ve all heard during shelter-in-place. The answer is: to avoid burnout. Take a day off and go for a walk, draw, do yoga, read magazines—anything that can recharge your batteries so you can show up for work and keep your creative muscles strong.

There’s no map to consult for the treacherous journey we’re on. Navigating a pandemic in 2020 is new to all of us. To get through it, we’re going to need to be creative. So, stay safe, stay inside and stay connected. And, don’t forget to slow down and take advantage of all that the virtual world has to offer during these trying times.

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