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A creative’s take on the WFH shenanigans.

Confessions: 5 seemingly obvious things that I shrugged my shoulders at before the lockdown

A creative’s take on the WFH shenanigans.
  • Our confessions series is a platform where young professionals from the advertising, marketing and media world will get to pour their hearts out on how the outbreak of coronavirus has affected their daily routines, the good, bad and ugly sides of working while under house arrest and talk about if it's even possible to balance work and personal life in a situation like this.
  • In today’s column, Archit Gadiyar, Associate Executive Creative Director, Leo Burnett India answers how creatives, if this life of ours is the new ordinary, can seek the new extraordinary?’
It’s been over 24 days since WFH became the new normal for us at Leo Burnett. One thing that has been on my mind is the amount of 'me time' I have on my hands right now. On one pensive evening, right around sunset, I stood in my balcony with a nice cuppa joe. There was a weird epiphany -- when I realized that there’s no one around and so of course, I started talking to myself and instead of vanilla questions like “I wonder what’s for dinner,” my brain raked up existential ones like “What is the difference between a mouse and rat?” You experienced the same? No? Just me, is it? Alright.

Anywho, after I steered clear of those pesky questions and was on my last drop of coffee, there was a brief moment of clarity where I started picking up on certain things. Things that are seemingly obvious but maybe I hadn’t thought about it till now. If this life of ours is the new ordinary, how do we, as creatives, seek the new extraordinary?

So here are 5 seemingly obvious things:

  1. Short term isn’t a bad thing:
I think it’s an Indian way of looking at life. In this country, you could walk up to any 7-year-old kid and ask him or her about their future plans, and there’s a high chance that a squeaky voice replies, “astronaut”. It’s ingrained in us that we are supposed to know what our distant future has in store for us. However, this lockdown has shown us how sometimes even a tiny hiccup can result in a butterfly effect and shove all your plans out the window. Don’t get me wrong. Long term plans are essential for brand building, but then again, why do short term plans have to be reduced to tactical and merely sales-driving? To chart a path out of these choppy waters, we, at Leo Burnett, have devised the 0-3-6 model. This model seeks answers as to what a brand or the comms agency should do right now at stage zero, but at the same time, be agile enough to prepare for month 3 and month 6 too. Ergo, the long-term thinking for a brand can be seen evolving through multiple, successive short terms strategic thinking. This blueprint allows us to be nimble and spectacular.

2. Be a pirate:
A side-effect of being alone means you eventually end up thinking about yourself. Which I don’t see as a bad thing. Putting yourself ahead of everything else is a trait designed by nature. In which case, embrace it. I’ll talk more about this point from a personal POV later but for now, focus on the work aspect. I firmly believe a good creative must be a pirate or exhibit pirate tendencies. A pirate thinks of everything as rightfully theirs. So, must you. Being alone on most days now, I understand how important that has become. To constantly stay hungry and keep attacking briefs with the same vociferousness. To hoard all kinds of knowledge, wisdom and information. To not wait for a good brief but instead find one that deserves a good idea. And most importantly, prioritizing your ideas ahead of everything else. This isn’t a time to be pleasant, people. Be a pirate.

3. The first thing to rust is a creative ’s brain:
A creative’s mind is constantly sharpening, even when it isn’t at work. As the lockdown extends day after day, we find ourselves with more time on our hands. No need to travel, no need to dilly-dally, no need to wait for the others. Question: what do we do with the extra time? We spend it on ourselves. A creative’s mind is the first thing to start showing signs of rust. Complacency isn’t a great bedfellow. Neither is stagnancy. In which case, spend time on the things you love. (Which may or may not include Tiger King.) Spend time on things that will nurture creativity. Cook a dish without knowing the recipe. (If you burn the kitchen, that’s on you.) Create inappropriate playlists for future weddings. Write poems that have “blazing inferno” and “singed eyebrows” in the same sentence. (I think that burning kitchen visual is going to stay with me for some time.) Oh, well.

4. Facetime is not just an app.
We are a people business. And year after year, the statement just keeps becoming truer. For me, a great idea has always been borne out of banter. The usual back and forth is a good churn when it comes to the ideation process. And more often than not, the different people in the room just add their own juicy bits to it. Refining and polishing it along the way. And making it into this masterpiece. Or maybe a shortlist. I don’t know. But I do know that spending time face to face does help. The next time there’s a work call, make it a video call. Skype, WebEx, Zoom, Teams, Duo. It really doesn’t matter which app it is, as long as you’re face to face. Just helps me feel like I’m still in office and with my people. Also, helps me preserve the last shred of sanity. The other day, I even invited them onto a call where we just had our evening coffee together. That Dalgona doesn’t taste bad if you put a shot of Jameson in it.

5. Health comes first. A close second is Vada Pav.
This lockdown might extend for a few more weeks. But there is no certain exit date for the pandemic. In times like these, and this has been my biggest learning of all, is there’s nothing greater than your health. I dream of the day we can laugh about this as we walk out of our front doors, but until then, all I can think of and preach is staying indoors and staying safe. I also started following some home workout routines on YouTube. Discovered that it helps with the lethargy and this overwhelming sloth personality that’s oddly reminiscent of something I saw on NatGeo. I wait for the day I can walk out and eat everything in sight. Remember the end of Shawshank Redemption? That will be me. Happily back in the offices of Leo Burnett Mumbai. With a luscious Vada pav in my hand. God, I miss Vada pav.

- By Archit Gadiyar, Associate Executive Creative Director, Leo Burnett India

COVID-19IndiaCases: 226,770Deaths: 6,348Recovered: 109,462
COVID-19WorldCases: 6.42mnDeaths: 383kRecovered: 2.87mn
COVID-19USACases: 1.82mnDeaths: 106kRecovered: 485k