Among the many nuggets of advice regularly doled out to the average person, “Don’t dwell on the negatives” is one of the most useful, yet it’s also one of the most frequently ignored. We’re tempted to dwell on the negatives because we struggle to control our anxieties, but we also get a simple kick out of complaining. It’s just so easy to focus on everything that’s wrong.
This has been made very clear by the COVID-19 pandemic and everything that has resulted from it. There’s no denying that horrible things have happened and continue to happen: lives taken, communities torn apart, businesses destroyed, and jobs lost. But we achieve nothing by embracing misery and refusing to look for the silver lining to this cloud.
Outside of a resurgence in community spirit, the biggest silver lining is the mass move to working from home (currently necessary due to stay-at-home recommendations). There’s a solid chance that many people will remain working from home after office life resumes — particularly those working in creative roles.
Why is working from home such a good opportunity for creatives specifically? Well, there are various solid reasons. In this piece, I’ll set out some of the most notable:
It allows them more time to develop their skills
Creative people generally want to keep expanding their horizons, but the structure of the classic 9-to-5 office arrangement makes meaningful development somewhat challenging. The first step is getting up earlier than you’d prefer, preparing for work, and dealing with a tricky commute. Your mood is soured from the outset. When you get to work, you don’t want to waste any office time on side projects or training, because you know you have to make the return trip at the end.
Completing your day as promptly as you can, you make the trek back, probably getting irked by both the rush-hour traffic and the unnecessary nature of the travel. When you get home at last, you just want to get something to eat and relax — and by the time you’ve done both of those things, you’re not feeling very motivated to push yourself.
Working from home allows a creative professional to minimize their stress and save a lot more energy and time for personal development: something that’s good for them and good for their employer. They can wrap up work early and immediately turn to research: YouTube alone has incredible resources, containing tutorials on practical matters like starting a home business and skill-based paths like using Adobe Premiere Pro. And once they get hooked on something, they can spend a lot of time on it. In prospect, it’s a far cry from that standard evening exhaustion.
It lets them approach their tasks in their own ways
Self-determination is something that creatives generally treasure. Sure, they need some limits on what they’re doing or else they’ll flit between half-baked ideas, but how they choose to get their work done should be left to them — but being able to look over their employees’ shoulders typically tempts managerial types to micromanage them when they really shouldn’t.
When they can work from home, creatives can avoid that kind of intrusive oversight. Their superiors can still check up on what they’re doing, but not with the same kind of detail-oriented control over it. Couple this with the flexible scheduling (when you’re not running an office, there often isn’t much need to have everyone working the same hours) and you have a recipe for creative professionals being able to approach their workloads however they want to.
Not only does this make work more fun for those professionals, but it also allows them to prove that their ways of doing things are more effective and efficient than those often forced upon them. Who wouldn’t want to earn major validation, reduce their effort, and increase their productivity? It’s a dream scenario for many people.
It provides them with interesting new experiences
Inspiration is a vital part of the creative process, but it can prove very elusive, and chasing after it in a tightly-controlled environment can easily feel futile. Just as a writer needs a steady supply of new books to read if they want to keep growing their vocabulary and honing their style, a creative of any variety needs new experiences to prompt new ideas and methods.
Working from home does sacrifice some experiences (chiefly commuting and communicating in person with coworkers), but it facilitates many others. Working alone for long stretches of time, for instance, is something that many have never experienced. Being able to completely control their environments and schedules is another relative novelty. And then there’s the point that those who work from home can work from anywhere.
If a creative wants to take their laptop and a power bank to a local park and work via a mobile data connection, they can (well, they might not be able to right now, but when lockdown measures have been relaxed) — or they can work from the beach, or a coffee shop, or a hammock in their backyard. If they ever feel the need to mix things up, they can change their environment and get fresh inspiration. That’s something that office workers just can’t do.
Working from home isn’t perfect, and it isn’t even an across-the-board improvement upon the old way of doing things. There’s still value in working from the same office as your colleagues: you can have impromptu conversations, feel the team spirit more keenly, and draw a meaningful sense of identity from being there.
Even so, I’m convinced that working from home is the superior option for creatives — and when the COVID-19 pandemic is suitably addressed and people can once again use offices, creatives should be allowed the best of both worlds: the freedom to work from their homes, work from other places, or work from their offices.