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  • Writer's pictureIan Morris

Top Tips For Keeping The Creativity Flowing Working From Home

Cartoon of a person working from home

Sixteen months have passed since Boris ordered the nation to turn their homes into temporary offices, and for lots of companies it looks as if there’s no going back – working from home is here to stay.

For some, it’s been a rip-roaring success – taking productivity to new heights and revolutionising that tricky work-life balance. For others, it’s had the opposite effect, leaving people disillusioned, demotivated and seriously missing the office banter.

Wherever you sit on the scale, one thing’s for sure – working from home is a whole different ballgame and one that requires a plan if you’re to keep your energy levels high and your creativity flowing.

Here, we bring you 10 tips for success, along with some recommendations from the Threerooms’ team on making working from home work for you…

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1. Don’t feel guilty about taking breaks while working from home. Cast your mind back to pre-lockdown office life. In all likelihood your day would have been peppered with impromptu chats, tea breaks, and trips to and from meetings. Fast forward to today and chances are you’re spending vast swathes of time glued to your chair, Zooming from meeting to meeting, and occasionally having one-sided conversations with your cat. But factoring in lots of little breaks to your day isn’t about skiving off, it’s actually about upping your productivity levels and giving your brain chance to recharge. Read this post for the science on why it pays to take breaks.

2. Check you’re still collaborating effectively with your colleagues. When the Threerooms’ team was asked to name the hardest thing about working from home, most of them said staying connected. Graphic designer, Mike, says: “Collaboration is very important for creativity and although it can be harder to stay connected, it’s really important to keep everyone involved in a project in the loop with regular communication. We now rely on so many different forms of communication. Important messages can easily get lost in the abyss of project management tabs, chat threads, group calls, and emails. It’s important that everyone knows where to go to get the information they need and appropriate ways to contact each other.”

3. Nurture those office relationships. We’re not talking illicit encounters of the Hancock variety. We’re talking about keeping your friendships alive – making time for catch-ups and organising team challenges to keep spirits up. It’s easy to let that side of things lapse as online meetings tend to be more focused and less likely to stray into water cooler chit-chat. But having a good relationship with your co-workers is an important part of job satisfaction – you just need to find different ways to make it happen. Schedule time at the start or end of online meetings, organise Monday morning coffee and croissants, or book in Friday afternoon cocktails. Our brand strategist, Jennie, adds: “You need to put more effort into maintaining productive relationships when you’re working remotely. For example, you could schedule some time to have 1-2-1 chats with different people each week.”

4. Set out what you’d like to achieve at the start of the day. A list of goals for the day will help you stay focussed and motivated. If you feel your attention wandering to that leaning tower of ironing or the dishes you didn’t get round to doing last night, a reminder of what you want to tick off by the end of the day will really keep you on track and stop you getting distracted by chores during office hours. Check out some handy daily planner apps here.

5. Get moving. Chances are you’re moving around far less than you used to, and that’s going to take its toll on your physical and mental health. A walk round the block, a bit of work in the garden, a bike ride to the shops, even a few stretches during your next Zoom call (camera off, obvs) – it all adds up to boost your wellbeing. Designer, Mike, says regular short walks help boost his creativity levels. “I’m lucky enough to live somewhere with a lot of options for short, interesting walks. I find that whenever I’m struggling for motivation or creative inspiration, a short, brisk walk always helps.” Read more about the benefits of short bursts of exercise here.

6. Give your workspace a revamp. Take a photo of your workspace and then critique it objectively. Think about the bread and butter – your monitor, keyboard, chair and desk. If your photo shows a rock-hard kitchen chair or an ironing board for a desk, it’s time to rethink. You’ll be doing a real disservice to your back, your neck and your eyesight if you don’t have the right set-up. Scour Facebook marketplace or eBay for cheap second-hand stuff that’ll transform your posture when you’re working. After that, take a look at the rest of your set-up. Think about plants, colours and ideas boards to give you a creative kick. And get rid of the clutter – you’ll feel so much more on top of it all if your workspace is nailed. Get a little inspiration here.

7. Go to your happy place when you feel stress levels rising. Get a comedy fix, browse Instagram for some inspiration, blast your favourite tune… whatever it is that helps you get your happy back, do it. And keep an eye out for the warning signs that your mood is on the slide. For example, you might feel your shoulders have risen up to your ears, your head’s started to pound or you’ve started sighing and rubbing your eyes every other minute. All of these should set the warning lights flashing on your internal wellbeing dashboard. Another thing you might have to contend with these days is the distraction of home life going on around you. Our creative designer, Max, who has a four-month-old baby at home, says his solution for keeping creative and staying on task lies in good music and a quality pair of noise-cancelling headphones.

8. Get a change of scenery – and not just during the workday. Two things to think about here. Firstly, you can shake things up when it comes to where you work. Set up camp in the garden on a sunny day, go and see a friend and work alongside them, or seek out a coffee shop that’s happy to have you work there for a bit. Secondly, spice up your free time, too. Home was once the sanctuary you returned to at the end of a busy day, but nowadays it’s become the place you spend waaay too much time. Designer, Mike, says: “When you’re working and living in the same space it’s extra important to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Getting outside in the evening is critical to staying creative and productive at the desk.” Equally, Jennie stresses the positive impact changing your surroundings can have on your creativity. She adds: “Experience different things and take in information from other sources – read magazines that you wouldn’t usually look at, go to a museum, get to the countryside and learn how to use a paper map! Just being in different surroundings can give you the headspace to let ideas flow. Enable dictation on your phone so you can record any thoughts that pop into your head wherever you are.”

9. Schedule time to think. It’s something people rarely do but could really boost your creativity. Jennie says: “One of the most valuable things is giving myself thinking time, which is an opportunity to take a step back and stop actively working on a project. It’s amazing how easily things come to mind when we give ourselves the time to reflect, kick ideas around and experiment.” Equally, if you keep coming up against a brick wall on a particular problem, ring a friend. She adds: “Keep in touch with previous colleagues and build a network of people you can talk to about your experiences and ask for advice.”

10. Enjoy a new and improved work-life balance. Bidding farewell to the daily commute has been a major hit with the WFM contingent. Not only that, many people have reclaimed that elusive thing – a lunch break. Senior designer, Lee, says: “One of the best things to come out of working from home is a much better work-life balance. You can use your lunch to do those chores, like cutting the lawn or hanging the washing out, meaning weekends are free for more exciting things.” Mike agrees that his new, improved lunch break has been a winner. “The world is your oyster at lunchtime,” he says. “As beautiful as our old office was, it was also in the middle of nowhere. Working from home I have much more on my doorstep to take advantage of at lunchtimes. I can go for a walk, run or bike ride, I can go to the gym, do a weekly shop, or pop out for lunch with a friend.” The food side of things has improved, too. “Access to a fully-equipped kitchen for making nice lunchtime meals is one of the best things about working from home – no more microwaving leftovers!”

And finally…

One last thing – try and accept that some days you’ll be more productive than others. We’re not machines that can function at our very best all day, every day. Just like we had off days in the office, there’ll be days at home when the ideas just aren’t flowing. Accept it, and realise tomorrow is another day – chances are you’ll be back on form by then. And for those who are worried their mojo has upped and gone on a more permanent basis, consider sharing how you’re feeling with someone. It’s an unusual situation we’re all facing – be kind to yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help from the people you work with. Chances are some of them will be feeling exactly the same.

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An award-winning branding agency, Threerooms has spent over 15 years making brands stronger and businesses more successful. Whether modernising brands with meaning or crafting effective marketing campaigns, our amazing team is focused on delivering brand transformation while providing exceptional customer service.

We want to hear about all your opportunities and how we can work together. Let’s chat.

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