How do we keep creative juices flowing during trying times? One thing is for sure, our way of doing business has changed so the way we lead and manage has to change, too. Today, more than ever, it is important to show gratitude and appreciation in ways that are authentic and genuine.

Several months ago, I wrote a blog post about preparing our agency’s “return to the office” plan.  A couple of months later, my colleague, Peter LaMotte, wrote about communicating a business’s back to work plan. Looking back at both of those posts read in today’s context, we were hopeful and optimistic about “getting back to normal.”

At that point, our energy and creativity levels were high, and we were working at a fast and furious pace. There was a sense of urgency as many of our clients were struggling to re-evaluate their marketing efforts and communicating their own back-to-work plans for their stakeholders. We were on a mission and living up to our “getting it done” values.

As our team members continued working from home, we knew we had to be nimble, flexible and resilient to ensure our clients were still able to communicate to their customers and employees. The emphasis was on speed and volume.

What was our creative pulse?

What started as a short term, rapid-fire plan that got us through a few months relatively unscathed has moved into a longer-term plan that addresses not only our client work but also the overall health of our workplace. With so much Zoom fatigue and the inability to have the in-person creative brainstorming that we were used to doing, how do we make sure that the volumes of work we produced still adhere to our creative standards?  How do we ensure that the environments that our team members were living in still enabled them to do their best work?

Take the holistic approach

As with any advertising or public relations campaign, we did our checkups and built our stamina with frequency and focus. But some of our team members were hitting walls with fatigue and stress. And while they haven’t wavered in their commitment to our clients, we quickly recognized this unsustainable pace was taking a toll personally. We had to come up with a longer-term approach beyond just bulldozing through.

We have to be genuine

Today more than ever, it is important to show gratitude and appreciation in ways that are authentic and genuine. Colleagues can feel isolated and underappreciated while working remotely without anyone on a daily basis who can listen and understand their work frustrations. We do frequent one-on-one check-ins and many of us have found we just have to listen.

We readily acknowledge we wouldn’t be anywhere without our team members’ perseverance and ability to adapt to this whirlwind of change. And we know it’s important to constantly let our team members know we care about their well-being and show empathy for what each person is experiencing.

We have to change

Our way of doing business has changed so the way we lead and manage has to change. We have to be more adept now in keeping each others’ creative juices flowing and showing pride in the work we are doing. We have found new ways to communicate the value our team members bring to the table.

Previously, we did a review, gave some additional compensation or a bonus, and plotted a plan for the upcoming year. Now it is even more important to show a career path and make sure our team members feel enriched by their jobs. One advantage of a virtual environment is that we have been able to give access to programs and speakers that when done live were prohibitively expensive.

We have to make it personal

In today’s rapidly changing work environment, we are going beyond the workplace to find ways to enrich our team members individually. Access to therapists and other mental health services can be crucial during these times. The virtual happy hours have begun to lose their luster but other events to bring colleagues together can mean a great deal.

We emphasize daily that no one has to do this alone. By empowering our team members and asking them what they need, we can create and sustain the culture and environment where everyone can still excel – and keep creative juices flowing. And that’s good for our clients, our team members and our future sustainability.