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How to stay creative when working from home

How to stay creative when working from home

Friday, May 08, 2020
Isrene Shao

As we all work together to help flatten the COVID-19 curve, working remotely has become the new normal for a lot of people. For creatives (UX designers, UI designers, product designers, copywriters, and many more) who are used to lots of in-person collaboration and brainstorming sessions, adapting to this new normal can be a challenge.

We still have the same goals as creatives, but we need to be flexible about how we approach design challenges and adjust to our new work circumstances. From carving out a new routine to utilizing online tools that make collaborating with different teams simple, here are a few ways creatives can focus on building empathy, communicating clearly, and staying inspired.

  1. Establish a routine that works for you

    Living the 9-5 life is a lot easier when you have somewhere to be every day and people to notice if your chair is empty or not. At home, trying to find that balance between work and home life is tricky, especially when we are sharing the same environment with one or more other people who are also trying to work. It’s important to carve out a physical workspace where you can focus and have a little privacy for your Zoom meetings.

    Illustration of a woman working from home

    Having a routine at home can help you focus on the task at hand. If your company is offering flexible work hours, take advantage of that. For example, you may prefer to sleep in a little and work later into the evening. If you’re home-schooling your child during the day, you may need to be creative about when you can spend time focusing on work—and that’s a necessary decision. There is no right or wrong approach to figuring out the best work/home balance, but remember that you may need to be reachable during core business hours even if you’re not at your desk!

  2. Prioritize face-to-face interaction

    Creatives are collaborative in nature but now, because of COVID-19, many of us are left isolated at home, working in silos. When we were able to go into an office, it was easy to have quick side conversations to bounce ideas off each other. But a huge part of communication is actually non-verbal, including body language and tone of voice. That means without the in-person interaction, we’re missing out on a lot of important communication cues.

    Illustration of a video chat app

    Luckily, video collaborating programs like Skype, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams are available to facilitate face-to-face interaction. Even if it’s just talking through a small issue, face-to-face discussions can have a huge impact on collaboration and your ability to creatively and effectively solve design problems. So don’t be shy about turning on your camera! It allows you to see a friendly face, help avoid miscommunication, and creates a better sense of that teamwork atmosphere without being in the same physical space.

  3. Take advantage of online tools

    One big question every creative is asking themselves: How can we recreate the brainstorming sessions and collaborate virtually? With new technology and powerful online design tools, collaborating remotely has never been easier. There are many design apps for whiteboarding, brainstorming, wireframing, and prototyping that allow for real-time feedback. Sketching out ideas during a live chat meeting can be efficient and effective.

    Illustration of a group whiteboarding session

    Many of these apps offer free trials with some limitations, but it’s definitely enough to hit the ground running. Alternatively, you could also draw mock-ups by hand and share them around to give visual context to what you’re trying to express, then ask for feedback and idea generation. Apps that can help manage team progress and assign tasks can also be useful in keeping your team organized while you all work remotely. With the right tools at our fingertips, we can continue to be creative and collaborative.

    Want to keep your team organized and on track?

    Need to whiteboard and/or prototype with your team virtually?

  4. Engage with the design community

    We may be far apart physically, but now is the time to come together to help inspire each other. That means don’t be afraid to share, share, share! The creative community is strong, constantly learning, and always up for a challenge. From Behance to design blogs for all categories, it’s easy to find resources for practicing your craft and finding inspiration.

    Illustration of coworkers holding each others hands in the air

    All the time you’re spending at home could potentially be a golden opportunity to read more books and attend online seminars. There are also plenty of design challenges that you can participate in—or create one yourself that fits your style and your interest. The goal is to keep those creative juices flowing wherever you happen to be. Check out these resources to get started:

Ready to raise the bar?

These are challenging times. Yet even as consumer behavior changes dramatically, the demand for exceptional digital experiences has only grown. Whether you need occasional UX consulting, a long-term design partner, or simply some inspiration for that upcoming campaign, our talented Creative team is always ready to help.


Isrene Shao
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