Working Together, Separately: How We Do It

Tell us if this ol’ COVID kick in the teeth sounds familiar? Add about seven video chats to your daily onslaught of emails, panicked texts and skull-drubbing conference calls. 

Welcome to the abnormally new normal. 

COVID’s impact has affected almost everything — with one exception. Since we’ve been working remotely together all along, our 2020 partner dynamic is old hat. Like the movie “Groundhog Day,” but with face masks and a few bandanas. 

For companies with multiple offices, there can be hundreds of miles between employees. Not to mention, it’s been months since we were in the same city and office together. And yet it works because we spend a metric crap ton of time talking screen to screen and being goofy. 

We’re not remote work experts. But what we do have is the ability to go all in on this working style. Here’s how to embrace it:



Acceptance. This isn’t a temporary fix. It is the fix. If we want to work together, this is the only answer. Doesn’t work without emotional buy-in. Short-term toleration is very different from leaning in for the long haul.

Getting out of the way. Over-communication and micro-management become distance overcompensation traps. For us, management has seen we have chi remotely, so  they let go and let us run with it. 

Trust-falls. The creative process doesn’t change just because you move from a conference room to a couch. The principles are still the same. Trust in the creative process. If you keep each other honest, it’ll work the same way it always has.

Work unfiltered. Embrace the idea of working with a small kid in your lap. Just get a good set of headphones — or assign older kids a chore. They’ll disappear for hours.

Culture clubbing. Treat your co-workers the same way you would during a hallway conversation. Make jokes, tell stories or tease them mercilessly. That type of interaction is your company culture. Your video calls should have that energy. 

Transparency. Clients  or vendors can feel when you’ve put in the effort. Doesn’t matter if you’re in the room or on their computer screen. Be who you’ve always been. Just maybe without pants now.

Have fun. Operate with a creative philosophy that if you’re not having fun or feeling satisfied, you’re doing something wrong. Make a change.

Platform fluidity. The ways we connect now are very different, but the reasons why are still the same. There’s an emotional bond at the core. Humor, similar histories, whatever. How we connect doesn’t matter as long as we connect: with text messages, phone calls or a whole bunch of video chats.

So welcome back to the same old, same old. There’s an art to communicating this way. If we’re able to do it with each other, in theory we should be able to do that with our potential audience. Isn’t that really what the job is to begin with?

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