COVID-19: Where do the Individual, the Team, and Creativity Go From Here?

 

By Keegan Roembke, Lead Writer, Vadela

 

I wake up at 9:00 a.m. sharp. I yawn loudly and roll out of bed, stretching to shake the cobwebs off. I stumble over to the coffee machine, drink a glass of water, and put two pieces of wheat toast in the toaster. I’ve now clocked into work.

 

Thanks to the global COVID-19 outbreak, this is the reality many of us are facing as we shift to an entirely digital, remote, and at-home work format. I, as a writer, have been working remotely for a year now. However, working from home is a change to my routine as well – I’m used to frequenting cafés and working alongside others – drawing inspiration from not only socializing but simply seeing and being around other people.

 

I am a person that relishes change, hectic situations, and a rapidly-evolving lifestyle. I just recently arrived back in the United States, on March 6th, from backpacking and working remotely around Europe for six months. It was a time when I was meeting new people from countries all over the world every week, saying goodbyes to those people at the end of every week, drawing inspiration from daily encounters, and writing about them. 

 

That has all changed, obviously. We are living in uncertain times – times when frequenting a café and working alongside others is either illegal or possibly deadly – times that cause every one of us, no matter who we are, to question the direction of the world and ourselves. We are spending more time watching the world (through a digital lens) and exponentially more time with only ourselves, so the former would logically follow.

 

So the question is this: what happens when the world works from home in the age of the internet?

 

The answer: digital unity, individual and collective storytelling, and simple questions like “what is my routine?” and “what do I like to create?” Essentially, a return to a more human way of life in a world that is more physically and socially disconnected than ever. In a world that is more centered around technology and its functions than ever.

 

Working with Vadela allows an up-close look at the moving cogs of working remotely. Six of us work out of a home in Orlando, affectionately called Hustlepuff. The rest of us are located around the world and the country: India, Morocco, Indiana, Kansas City, Las Vegas, and L.A. We are asking ourselves these questions daily, as a collective of young people in the business of creative storytelling in the ever-changing digital world. 

 

How do we emphasize storytelling when brands and humans in general may want to distance themselves from everything, just like they are distancing themselves from others? How do we work and create efficiently when everything, everything, is so uncertain? How do we motivate ourselves daily to create our own projects in our free time, and how do we self-discipline so that we can see concrete outcomes?

 

During our Monday morning powwow, our weekly meeting in which we discuss where we left off last week and where we are headed in the upcoming week, I can sense everyone itching to produce, to tell a story, to kick themselves in the ass and provide value. What is interesting is not that we have this feeling but how it manifests itself in each of our lives. 

 

Youssef, our Lead Animator from Morocco, shows us the indoor rock climbing set he built on the bottom of this bunk bed. We clap and laugh as he climbs upside-down under his top bunk. Ishaan, one of our founders from India now living in Orlando, says that everyday will be a failure if he doesn’t work out. I was in Orlando two weeks ago – he didn’t work out. But he’s always got ideas. And he most definitely always wants to improve himself. Miguel, our other founder, says he’s got a packed day until 4:00 p.m. and has been up since 5:00 a.m., when he got up to workout and run. Isacc Yi, our Creative Director, tells us he’s trying to adjust his morning routine so it doesn’t only entail drinking coffee after coffee. I get where he’s coming from, especially as I sip from my second cup of coffee.

 

My thoughts now are how strange it is to see everyone clearly out of their comfort zones due to social distancing measures and how interesting it is to see how everyone is handling this drastic change. And, to be frank, people are handling it… very well. At least from my view. They are laughing, doing and making things they wouldn’t normally do or make, reading, or at least contemplating doing, creating, or reading, which is half the battle. Heck, I picked up a bow and arrow, which I had never even tried to shoot before, and learned the basics this weekend. I’ve spent time walking outside just to be outside – not to go to the grocery or the car or run an errand. Of course there is inherent situational anxiety, but sometimes you have to let yourself be a little anxious. Perhaps, if we’re just a little anxious, we can feed off of it to create positive outcomes– collectively and individually.

 

Then, we may just see humanity flourish – we may just see our collective story become a bit more artistic, connected, and spontaneous. We may experience a time for reflection, creation, and kindness that we haven’t experienced in our lifetimes. One thing is for sure: it starts at the individual level, with the person sitting in their home turning a bunk bed into a rock climbing wall. And damn it – from there, it will spread like a virus.

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