Tony Sharpe’s old normal is new for many others

(Sharpe offers words of encouragement to creatives working out of home)

Editor’s Note: The world changed right before our very eyes. We now work, live, exercise and entertain ourselves in our homes. This is the new normal. In this new on-going series, we check in on ad agencies, production companies, post-houses, and anyone else who wants to talk about their personal experiences during this coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

I used to think I was special. A freelance copywriter working remotely from home. I know I’m wasn’t the only one. There’s Jeff Martin in Chicago, Melissa Webber out in SoCal, and tons of others. But now, every copywriter is doing it. All the art directors too. Hell, everybody’s working from home social distancing, but nobody seems to be happy about it. Nobody except us freelancers.

To us, this social distancing is nothing special. We’ve been doing it for years. We already have high-speed broadband, second screens, Zoom, GoToMeeting, and all that stuff. We have this work remote thing down.

To be honest, I’ve worked mostly at home. Sometimes at Colin’s Coffee. Sometimes at Stauf’s coffee. Sometimes at agencies where I can always get a coffee. Sure, there have been the occasional gigs in London and Paris, but for the most part my working world has been my home studio that I refer to as The Treehouse.

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The Treehouse resembles a man cave in the sense it has a flat screen tv with surround sound, comfy chairs, half a dozen guitars, microphone stands, Marvel Comics posters on the wall, a large collection of cameras, and, most importantly, a bar.

“The Treehouse”

The Treehouse has everything I’d ever want, because well, it’s my home. Comfy workspace? Check. Coffee? Got it. Printer? Got it but don’t need it because, digital. Co-workers to collaborate with, clients to pay me, editors to send me rough cuts, engineers to send me audio mixes, animators to send me animation. They are all right there on the screens before me, still working face to face, just not breathing the same air.        

Absolutely nothing has changed for me. Except now I have to do this with two young sons who are doing their best keep up with e-learning and a wife who’s doing her best to help her company get medical supplies to the people who need them. It’s total chaos, 24/7. And I’m loving every minute of it.

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I read a lot about agency creatives who are struggling, trying to figure out how to stay creative outside the office. I don’t get it. Truth is, your creativity doesn’t stop at the office door. You always have it with you.

Feeling uninspired? That’s your fault. It’s an attitude thing. You have to stay positive. Yeah, there’s a lot of bad news, but there’s a lot of good things happening too. Like you get to keep doing the job you love and spend more time at home with your family, or more time with your guitars if you’re living alone. And if you have a dog or a cat, they’re probably just as happy with your new work situation as my kids are.

Collaborating is nearly just as easy from home. You can work in collaborate in real time on Google Docs or Google Slides while you make comments in the margins or talk to your creative partner on speaker, headphones, or FaceTime. You can share screens and get real-time feedback on Zoom.

Any of these options is still better than any open office scenario I’ve been in. My creative partner and I are just as collaborative, productive and creative as we could ever be in an office.

She’s on the West coast, 2,200 miles away.

Sure, it takes some getting used to. But as my eight-year-old son Jack tells me, “We have to adjust and adapt, Papa.” I don’t know a group more able to adjust and adapt than creatives. That’s what we’re cut out to do. It’s what makes us special after all.

Award-winning Creative Director and Copywriter Tony Sharpe brings his global experience to solving problems for brands large and small. Brands like: Mizuno, Hertz, Thrifty, Budget, StayWell, Lilly, L Brands, BentoBox, Sunrun, ScottsMiracle-Gro, IN-N-OUT, Tim Horton’s & Burger King. He also grills.

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