Art Director Jess Spaleta on celebrating the small wins in lockdown

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Author: Coordinate

When you are a creative services agency, driven by curiosity and powered by communication and close collaboration, how do work-from-home rules and recommendations work? Because even in 2022, we look very far away from ever returning to the well-worn routines of office life.

Rather than slowing down during the pandemic, which split up the Coordinate team—in effect isolating the creative engine’s moving parts—the company had to think, act and work differently.

But the result has been we’ve never been busier, nor more connected.

The first in a three part-series sees team members ponder the new realities of work, home, productivity and how they’ve kept the Coordinate brand of curiosity and creativity alive during lockdown.

Jess Spaleta, Art Director

How does working from home compare with working from the office? 

It’s definitely been a challenge as a creative finding my mojo working from home in a silent house all day. I mean it has its pros (activewear) and cons (forgetting basic social skills) but I would much prefer to be in the office collaborating with our design team.

How have you managed client liaison and communication with the other graphic designers? 

Client liaison has been surprisingly easy and at times much more convenient from home—once everyone stopped caring what they looked like on Zoom calls it became quick and easy to just jump on a video call with any client or team member.

Internally, we’ve had to make a conscious effort as a team to consistently check in with each other and take some time to just ‘talk shit’ some days like we would in the office—the banter is what everyone craves I think so it’s important to keep the communication there between us all and encourage everyone to keep checking in and sharing what they are working on each day.

We need to celebrate all the small wins, even when in lockdown!

What have you learnt about yourself during lockdown? 

I always thought I was a true introvert but after spending so much time alone during the day working from home I have found that I really do need social interaction to refill the cup sometimes—I am sure my dog Sam is over me talking to her constantly too.

What are the advantages? 

  • The quiet space with less interruptions can be really useful when working on something creative where you need the time and space to explore ideas without distractions.
  • Not having to commute gives me more time for other things like morning walks and attempting to cook elaborate dinners.
  • I have really productive days a lot of time as I can be a little more in control of when I am interrupted and things need to be way more planned and organised which helps.

Be honest, what have the worst parts been? 

  • Feeling so isolated from our team and all of the daily support that brings.
  • The lack of a consistent routine and anxiety around doing what used to be activities we wouldn’t think twice about—like grocery shopping.
  • Not being able to have the definition between work and home. My desk is in the living room so often catch myself just working at random times just because I can.

How has the pandemic changed your work habits? 

It’s helped me to realise I need a better work/life balance and that is on me to create it. It has improved my organisation and productivity.

When it is safe to do so, will you return to the office in the same capacity as you were in prior to COVID? 

I will most likely return to the office full-time—I miss the team and find it helps having people around to bounce ideas off.

If not, what will change? 

If anything changes it might be the odd WFH day here and there—it’s really nice to know we have that flexibility.

What do you miss most about the office while being home? 

The general banter and chit chat—we have such a great team.

What will you miss most about your living room once you’re back in the office? 

The proximity to my kitchen. And the fact that I can wear activewear every day!