Adapt. Modify. Restructure. Sometimes, it feels like these three words are all anyone in the workforce has been doing since the pandemic started. We adapted to working from home, we modified our work schedules to include a hybrid of in-office and at home, and we restructured our workdays to allow all of us some flexibility in the chaos.
As an agency, we’ve gotten pretty good at navigating unknown, potentially convoluted problems and finding actionable, savvy solutions. We’re in the business of turning straw (complexity) into gold (opportunity).
At Emotive Brand, one of the good things to come out of the pandemonium — I mean pandemic — is something we call Maker Hours. What are Maker Hours? Great question. We sat down with members of the team, including one of our founders, Bella Banbury, to talk about the origin of Maker Hours and why we love them.
What are Maker Hours?
Maker Hours are blocks of time that allow us as individuals, and as a team, to dive headfirst into our work. They are also periods of time for us to bring some flexibility into our workdays. This can mean we take a couple of hours to really focus on a project for a client, go for a midday workout, or spend a little more time working on new design skills.
Most importantly, Maker Hours allows us to continue to find a balance between our work lives and personal lives. Even if that just means blocking off time to watch the kids, walk the dog, or log off Zoom for an hour. The key word here is flexibility.
Why did we start Maker Hours?
It all started in March 2020 with the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of our projects were either canceled or put on hold within the first few weeks. Bella Banbury notes that, like many businesses, we went through a round of layoffs and had to ask everyone on the team to take a 20% cut in salary. Knowing what we were asking of our team, we went to a four-day work week. As the line between work and home blurred a bit with remote work, we realized that the extra day off was incredibly valuable to everyone on the team. It gave us some time to step away from screens especially when we were all constantly worrying about health, financial security, and our families.
Within the next couple of months, business began to bounce back. Projects that were previously on hold had started up again and we were able to go back to full pay for all of our employees. Bella Banbury says, “We had come to realize that we needed something different. Not necessarily, a four-day workweek, just more flexibility in how and when we did the work. People wanted heads down space to do work or time to get away from constantly being on screens.”
Sometimes, the best work is done when there are no distractions and we can build out the structure of our day regardless of meetings. Maker Hours allow space for deep, uninterrupted thinking. We get to dive into a project in ways we haven’t been able to during the regular workday.
“I use Maker Hours for getting things off the ground. I find that the distance between Nothing and Something ends up being much greater than the distance between Good and Great. Our brains are natural editors and if something exists, we can’t help but refine it,” says Chris Ames, Creative Lead.
Additionally, it’s all about trying to find a balance that will help keep us productive, sane, and level-headed with this new way of working. Rob Saywitz, Design Director, notes that, “something we lost in the pandemic is there is no commute or hard demarcation between home life and work life. There’s no natural balance. It all bleeds together.” Now, our ‘commute’ looks a lot like carrying coffee from the kitchen to the dining table. It’s so hard to find the line between work and life when we actually bring work home with us every night.
Maker Hours doesn’t necessarily make us more productive than we were before the pandemic. The benefits are that we found a way to give ourselves the space to separate work and home in a way that allows us to be there for our clients, but also be there for ourselves. Saja Chodosh, Strategist, says, “Before COVID-19 when we first started working remotely, you only worked 9-to-5. Now, it all blends together. Balance doesn’t have to fit a certain equation or schedule. Maker Hours helps you find your own way to nourish yourself and find balance.”
Maker Hours gives us the space to create, take a step back, recharge, and do what we need to do to make sure the work we put forward as a company is the best it can be. During these hours, the main objective is to give ourselves autonomy over our time with the understanding that we have control over how and when we get the work done. Finding a sense of renewal when the world is working at warp speed can be tough and we are always searching for new ways to improve how we approach the work we do and how we create the best product possible for our clients. This is equally about our clients as it is about the wellness of our team. Creating that work/life balance is a work in progress, but Maker Hours has been a great step in the right direction for all of us at Emotive Brand.