WORKING FROM HOME
I started working from home just few months before my son was born in 1997.
In the days of dial-up internet and no such thing as Zoom or Teams – working remotely wasn’t sustainable so when the big guy was old enough to go to nursery I went back to my office, a 40 minute drive away.
I never much liked travelling to the office, and as most people who know me will testify – I never much enjoyed getting out of bed. I could only dream of a simpler less stressful way of working.
I come from a background of working on a drawing board, typesetting, Pantone markers, Rotring pens, and inky fingertips. Huge advances in computing were just around the corner in the mid-90’s, but I’m proud to have cut my teeth in a design studio where mistakes could be extremely costly, and attention to detail was literally everything.
Even in its infancy – the internet, and working digitally completely changed my life.
Whilst on a beach in Turkey about 10 years ago I had an email from a host informing me that one of my clients websites had been hacked and I had 24 hours to remove a suspected malware file, and fix the weak point or face a takedown. If I couldn’t do it that day – there and then, I would definitely lose a much valued client.
Long story short – whilst in a beach bar and in the space of 4 hours; I’d found the hacker, cleared the ‘malware’, and finally set up a WAF server so that no one could get back in to the files. An hour after that I just about managed to patch things up with my future wife.
It dawned on me that I could work from literally anywhere in the world, any time of day or night.
It was one of the most liberating professional experiences of my life. Ever since then I have taken my work with me everywhere, and I’m pretty good at being organised on vacation.
It’s an old anecdote that in the 1950’s not many children had ever been to the seaside, eaten banana, or seen a real pineapple outside of a tin. In 2020/21 – it seems incredible that we are experiencing another quantum shift in how we are expected to live and work.
But following lockdown I’ve become sharper and I seem to have time to concentrate on finer details. It’s given me a new creative freedom to explore other approaches to Digital Marketing. I can find something beautiful inamongst the mundane. I force myself to open my eyes very wide to see new things in an ever narrowing landscape. Without the need to rush around to meetings I’ve now got more time to become a craftsman rather than a fire fighter.
I spend a LOT more time planning, and researching. Both can help identify the very best opportunities and extends the time spent enjoying my work. Like we were once taught at University, working out a bunch of different ideas leads to exploration. I’m more receptive. I look at smaller things. They help me formulate a wide picture.
I split my days in two. Having cleared a particular inbox it’s probably the quietest in the early morning, so I try to spend that time in creative thought mode. We aren’t tied to our offices any more, I haven’t been for years to be honest, so if I need to I’ll take a walk, tinker in the garden, listen to new music, pull out a sketch pad and some thick felt tip pens. I make myself do this.
I’ll implement the ideas in the afternoon and I create self imposed deadlines if I don’t have a real one. I force myself to finish work at 5.30 and I religiously take a walk or cycle for one hour or more.
I’m lucky I know, to have beautiful countryside at my doorstep. But when the weather makes it impossible to explore the outside I listen to new music I’ve never heard. Then after dinner, I’m fresh again so I’ll maybe craft and polish some of the work I did in the afternoon, upload a project for a client, and then explore the work of others.
VARY THE WORKLOAD
I vary my walk, work and music. I look at old jobs with fresh eyes and re-visit them. I perform regular analytics on live jobs, but I’ll visit old ones and notice new things that I can apply to current or future work. I work slowly now I have more time. I concentrate on the detail. The more I work with the detail, the wider my vision seems to be. I’m not clouded with the ‘how’ any more.
Leave the beaten path, if terrain allows it, and walk a few yards into metaphorical woodlands or open countryside. By wandering a little I find that it sometimes brings me closer to problem solving. It’s good to explore it’s quietest corners, and go deep into pockets of it, but also try to view it from afar. Look at the trees, look into gardens, look at the horizon, listen to the sound of life.
WALK SLOW, WALK QUIET
I never know what’s around the next corner, so I take my time and find that I see more detail. With advancing years, I place my feet carefully, I’m surprised how much more I see in the same amount of time.
Ok, I know this is stretching a euphemism. I’ve configured 3 x 32″ 4k monitors help me see much more. It’s amazing how being able to actually see a UI in detail can make a difference to workflow. It’s also a shock to realise that there’s actually a lot more going on that I first noticed.
There are so many little details we might miss normally. Competitor analysis is one thing, but aspirational content, outrageous ideas, odd thoughts, life experiences and encounters all play a part in our creative output. Appreciate the work that our peers and contemporaries are producing, take strength from them and be inspired not threatened.
I get out as much as I possibly can. I tend to walk every day for exercise and relish the changes in the weather. No walk can ever be the same if I keep my head up and pay attention to the world around me. I don’t forget to exercise my mind either, I stretch myself with new software, new techniques and new challenges every day.
Stop for a short time and just listening and look. Waiting for a couple of minutes in the middle of a project helps me see much more detail. The one thing we can say we have more of these days is ‘time’. Take some of that time to reflect on your own work.
Photography © Bammy 2021