blog-post
Benny Bentham
Associate Creative Director

Waste From Home

2020-04-07

Don't Forget To Zoom Out

About a million years ago, when we were all working in offices, the water cooler moment was a wonderful thing. That time when you stepped away from your desk to take a break. When you chatted to colleagues and waited for the microwave to bing. A glorious time-out to think about something else, or nothing at all, just for a moment.

They happen everywhere and anywhere in a busy studio. Perfectly random, free-ranging chats. A new Netflix show. Shit jokes and terrible dating stories. Asking after the kids. Hearing a gripe. An interesting personal project. A clever thought. An inspiring conversation. All that lovely human glue.

Because those moments serve a really useful creative purpose. As James Webb Young (legend) said, to paraphrase; it’s the point in the creative process when you need to let it go and not think about it.

When you’re stewing your tea, you’re not thinking about the tricky brief you need to crack. Or the email you need to write. Or whatever it is that’s blocking you. Maybe you wander past a screen and see a great piece of work, or you plonk yourself next to someone for 5 minutes, just to step away, chat, reset. And then get back to whatever it was you were doing, with a fresher head. Because we know creativity comes from unexpected connections; random conversations are part of the creative process.

Our new Zoom reality has given us all even more focus, which is a great thing. But it’s left little room for the unfocussed, free-range conversations where interesting things (and ideas) can happen.

The Waste Water Cooler

So, while everyone at Waste From Home is working away in one of 70 home offices around the country, they’re also taking time to just…talk. Which is why we’ve created the Waste Water Cooler channel on Slack and made sure that between 1-3pm there are no meetings in the diary, so people can take their feet and their minds for a wander. To allow for random Zoom calls with other Wasters, just to check in and say hello: agenda-free and with no weight of expectation. Maybe a chat now will trigger a big idea later. Maybe it won’t. That’s part of the joy of being a creative. And something that we’re protecting.

But it isn’t always about Zoom, and shouldn’t be. I have end of day chats with Christian, our Strategy Director, over a beer while we’re sitting in our respective gardens. On a mobile phone, of all things. Old school. But it works for us.

Zoom is our new reality. It focusses the problem into a small rectangle on a screen. But as creatives, we all need to keep our thinking loose, too - and our brains thinking big. Let’s protect the water cooler moment. Let’s remember to zoom out more.