Starting My New Creative Job During a Global Pandemic

You’re invited to AW2020, Advertising Week’s digital event, September 29-October 8 to help work through solutions to some of the advertising and marketing industry’s biggest problems. From climbing unemployment to racial inequality and an unclear future, now is the time, more than ever, to think and work together. Register to learn more.

Share this post

Ask a creative what it’s like at a new agency and the answer is usually ‘same shit, different place’. But then a virus turned the world upside down and everything changed. A week or so after lockdown, I started a new job as a senior creative at AML Group. With working from home now the new normal, would it be a case of different shit, same place?


As I add the finishing touches to my newly assembled office desk, a grim thought enters my mind. What if my hiring is reversed between now and Wednesday? With my wife already furloughed, I start to worry. Then I hear an unexpected knock at the door. It’s Tim, my new MD, who’s just driven 20 miles to drop off my new laptop. What a legend. Panic over.

Wednesday (April 1st)

I leave the house for an early walk and pretend I’m commuting to work. Back at home, I introduce myself to my new AML colleagues. With 26 webcams pointed at me, I feel very self-conscious and wonder if it’s all a big April Fool’s joke. But then reality kicks in, I’m being briefed on a pitch.


Nothing about this is normal yet something does feel familiar. I’m sitting opposite an art director (Ross, my new CD), and we’re ping-ponging pitch ideas across our desks on Microsoft Teams, just like a real creative team would in an office. I get a feeling this could work.


I take my usual unusual morning commute and have to stop for a minute. My head is spinning as my brain races to catch up. I try a mindfulness technique and take a few deep breaths. Later that day we have a breakthrough and a big idea for the pitch. I already know I’m working the weekend before Ross even asks.


Spend the whole weekend working through a list of pitch deliverables with the boss. I discover he’s great company and an excellent art director. We work well together and swap a few war stories.


Slept badly, which is normal for me on a pitch. It’s hard to switch off when your brain goes into hyperdrive. Reading the news isn’t helping either. I’m aware of the extra anxiety starting a new job brings in the middle of the apocalypse. Feel like I’m going to struggle today, but it turns out okay. Our pitch concepts are largely approved and I write a nice script for the mood film.


Script is approved and I ping it over to AML’s film specialist. Later that evening a rough edit comes back. It isn’t what I was expecting and I go to bed worried.


I give feedback on pitch film and it’s clear we have different views. I feel frustrated as I can’t just walk over to the other side of the office for a chat. I have to accept I have little control over some things, working from home – it is what it is. Later on, a finished edit is shared and everyone in the pitch team likes it. That’s handy as the pitch is tomorrow.


I join a Teams call mid-morning and everyone’s buzzing. AML’s first Zoom pitch has gone down a storm and confidence levels are high. I feel like I made a strong contribution and a win would be a dream start. Even better, it’s the Easter holidays tomorrow and we’re knocking off early.

After my first two weeks WFH, I’m feeling good but mentally fatigued. I’m not sure I know what normal is any more.

Welcome to the new normal.

Share this post
1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.