The following is the seventh volume of our series, Work vs. the World. For a couple more weeks, I will continue to interview individual team members about their work and how work and life are being affected by current events. As local governments continue to phase out stay-at-home orders, I aim to explore what it is like to be a part of the advertising industry in 2020 -- life at home, life at work, and life when “at work” means at “home.”
For Nathan Calhoun, Rockit Science Agency’s Art Director, a typical workday involves making coffee, drinking coffee, and thinking about more coffee. “Do I want it hot or cold?” Nathan first asks himself. His favorite coffees include Vietnamese iced coffee, cold brew mixed with tonic, or a straight shot of espresso. When his mind is not on the next cup, Nathan will listen to music and gaze off into nothing, as is conducive to the creative process. These moments of stillness remove any lingering creative-barriers, allowing ideas to freely flow into his consciousness. Beyond consuming respectable quantities of caffeine, Nathan spends his time responding to emails, reading creative briefs, and taking the occasional conference call.
Other responsibilities of Nathan’s include offering feedback to other team members -- constructively and insightfully -- regarding work that is still “in the shop.” Nathan also spends time undertaking his own share of design work. In his remaining “free” time, Nathan scouts the web for the latest interesting art and design ideas. “I frequently check out Under Consideration’s Brand New (www.underconsideration.com) and Colossal (www.thisiscolossal.com). Both of these sites are incredibly well-curated sources of art and design inspiration.” Nathan also adds that, occasionally, he also bounces around dribbble (https://dribbble.com/).”
While working from home, under the Louisiana governor's stay-at-home order, in-person collaboration was not an option. Otherwise, how Nathan approached his work was largely unaffected and the transition relatively seamless. “With the capabilities of Zoom and Slack,” Nathan says, “our team did not really miss a beat.” For him, returning to well-structured days in the office and again making a daily commute have felt far more challenging than it ever was to be sent home in the first place. However, Nathan acknowledges, “things are typically flexible at Rockit, so in reality, it has not been so strenuous.” He adds that, indeed, he will miss always being home at a decent time (if you are familiar with Baton Rouge’s traffic, you understand) and being able to so frequently see my wife and our son -- and hop on Fortnite with him for some duos -- was wonderful.<>
In response to my asking whether he has learned anything about his own work ethic or life in general, having now lived through the initial chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, he says, “You just have to stay flexible as new challenges present themselves.” He also says, “I think the pandemic confirmed what many already knew: It is possible to be just as productive remotely as in the office. Of course, this depends on the individual, their ability to be responsible, and a quality Internet connection. Beyond writing an excellent creative brief, exploration is a key aspect of the creative process. Remote work gives you the opportunity to do more hands-on exploration.”