SHIFT + 1


Our new, customized Zoom companions.

There’ve been quite a few seismic changes in how work works lately. Early on in this pandemic, the changes seemed to come in waves every twelve hours.

Wednesday, things would be going well. Everyone staying busy. New projects kicking off. Thursday, there’d be another wave of restrictions or closings or more dire predictions. We’d pick ourselves up and think, well, we can handle this for a few days. A couple of weeks. A handful of months.

We’re resilient, right? Working from home isn’t that bad. Wait, how much homework? And how are we supposed to get groceries again? There’s a nagging feeling of “don’t mess this up” coupled with the constant question, “what the hell is this, exactly?”

And that’s just for those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to work from home and take care of our families at the same time. There are many who don’t have those luxuries, so we hesitate to complain. Sure, the days are long. And the mornings quickly become afternoons, and the chain of meetings can seem unbreakable.

But instead of fixating on those hiccups, we have been quickly adapting as best we can in order to find a balance between efficiency and creativity.

While we may not have it all figured out just yet, here are a few basic pieces we’ve put in place that have helped us stay focused and unified as a team while also sane as individuals.

1. Shorter meetings.


This could’ve been instituted pre coronavirus. But we are becoming more diligent about who needs to be in meetings and insisting on agendas ahead of time. Basic stuff. But if we can keep our everybody-quiet-down-while-I’m-on-a-call time under 30 minutes per session and eliminate the “pre-ramble” from our presentations, everyone will benefit. Or at least be able to go to the bathroom occasionally.

2. More communication.


Just because we are being judicious with our meeting time doesn’t mean we’re losing touch. We’re simply using all the tools at our disposal and having direct conversations when we need to with less formality. Text, facetime, Gchat, an actual old-school phone call—we’re getting some real use out of our connected devices.

3. Daily status updates.


As a small management group, we check in every morning to discuss any overarching business initiatives—or things that may have otherwise slipped through the cracks after a photo finish to the day before. Then, we hop on a call with everyone on our team to go over what’s on each person’s plate for the day ahead. It’s not a breakthrough concept, but it keeps us engaged, accountable and efficient. It’s even led to more than a few proactive project ideas.

Ramping up seven new offices at once requires caffeine.

4. Wellness time.


When this all started, it felt like we were in constant scramble mode. The mornings would start with a sprint, and lunch wouldn’t happen until 3pm. As a team, we decided we needed to put up some schedule barriers. In addition to proactively scheduling work time on an individual basis, we implemented a one-and-a-half hour break from noon to 1:30pm on everyone’s calendars. We build meetings around it, and we encourage everyone to get out, stretch, workout, walk the dog, take a nap, grab lunch—whatever helps you push off from the day, so you can re-engage for the second half.

5. More praise!


The feeling of disconnection is real. And while I’ve long been wary of overusing emoji and exclamation points, it’s more important than ever for members on your team—agency, client, vendor—to know just how appreciated they are. When time is tight and communication needs to happen right away, these emotional shortcuts can help solidify the intent behind what you’re saying.

It’s easy to assume people know their work is valued, but these days, let’s not leave anything to chance. Or any emails subject to misinterpretation. Let’s call people out in Zoom chats for kicking ass. Let’s tell our partners how much they are contributing and making a difference to the success of a project. Let’s overwhelm each other with positivity to help balance out, you know, everything else. Let’s reacquaint ourselves with the Shift + 1 key command and put it to good use.

Hopefully, the skills and practices we’re developing during these isolated days will benefit us all when we come back together. There’s no reason we can’t be this efficient and simultaneously mindful once things start to settle down.

Keep it up. You’re doing great!