March 23, 2020

Relationship status: out of office

Working remote — a diary

Friday, 13, 2 pm o’clock

Dear office,

It’s been 4 hours since we decided we can’t go on together because we might be toxic to each other. I miss your desks. Your computers. Your chairs. Even my coworkers. We all did a great job over there, just to keep you safe.

Today I started my working program with no shaking hands (yes, we all shake hands, no matter the gender), without being late and with no exasperating noises from the coffee machine. Today was definitely not a good day. I wonder how it has been for my partners in crime.

But there is no great love story without lovers being apart at least once, right? Why would our agency affair go anyhow else? This will be amazing, after all, I promise you.

With love, always yours, faithfully and so on,

Each and every High Contrast Teammate

Friday, 13, 4 pm o’clock

Dear office,

It’s been 6 hours since we’ve been apart today.

I sincerely regret all those times I’ve cheated on you with home office crap. My neighbors suck. There is a dog barking on the 3rd floor and I’ve finished almost all the tasks for today. I’ve sung out loud half of my playlist and disturbed no one. Why do I even bother? For God’s sake, Andrew, please stop whatever you’re doing that makes Elena yell at you.

Slack is no fun if you can’t announce your colleagues out loud that you’ve sent them a message. I wish they could hear me calling.

I have to leave now, I promise I will come back with updates.

Friday, 13, 6 pm o’clock

Dear office,

We’re staying strong for you. We’re constantly chatting. We even set up a video conference in order to feel more comfortable with the situation. Isn’t it great? We…

Oh, come on, it is not so tragic to work from home. Yes, it is a bit depressing at the beginning because of the morning routine we all have at the office, but at least we can keep our pajamas on. And this is happening for us these days. We don’t want to talk about it and turn this article into a drama. And no, this is not one of those sources you can learn how to prevent anything from. Nor a survival kit. This is our adventure out of office.

What home office actually means

Usually, we would be more than excited to have a day off. I mean to work from home, not like off-off. You know, that pressure of 8 hours/day is not the same. We could handle 9, 10, 12 hours of working, everything is fine, we’re gonna launch those websites, we can handle the deadlines, we took our vitamins, the meeting is set and so on. Everything is under control.

When the Universe is sending you hints.

The funniest thing is that we have no clue about how to interact with each other from home. This is insane. We’re not used to telling jokes on Slack without hearing all the laughs starting all of a sudden. Now we feel like talking to each other more than ever before.

Introverts Paradise? Think twice

Yes, it is that moment when you realize that your introvert thing is pretty much bullshit. We all have trouble with this home office thing. As I said before, it is a pleasure to do it once in a while, it is healthy and you give your colleagues time to miss you and figure out they truly value you (you do, guys, don’t you?).

But what about all the fun sharing Instagram stories with your dream office? What do you mean no rock-paper-scissors? How do we know who’s gonna write on the flip chart at the weekly meeting otherwise? Did anyone take a picture of the previous list of tasks? Where do we order food from today? What? Hummus? We got hummus. Master of design, do you have those wireframes ready for feedback? I miss the cake, hurry up!

The perfect setup

Eat those snacks, design that logo, rock the world!

Nothing of these makes any bit of sense now. You can’t miss the cake, your mom made 4. No one writes on the flip chart, master Trello got us covered from the beginning (we can’t ignore you now, congrats, mission accomplished). Feedback through video calls? Say no more! At least clients are not so willing to solve things through calls anymore (God bless the house noises in the background) and they converted to all-solving and most practical emails. The parallel universe with no ‘’can we have a Skype?’’ happens right now. Isn’t it the happiest scenario for everybody? Now let’s go to our internal setup for the High Contrast team.

Do you all have a desk? Cool. Webcams? No webcams? We’re gonna use the ones we have at the office. Hmm, I might use this chair. Chair, anybody? Come on, it is an ergonomic one, take it, you don’t want to get back pain. What else, what else, oh, right! (and here comes the funniest part: the computer! )— Yes, we took everything we needed in order to avoid excuses not to use our 100% work potential.

First meeting from home

This part would be nothing but a transcript of our first attempt to still work all together via Skype. Enjoy.

E: So, guys, we must be altogether in the same place. We’re gonna do this through a video conference on Skype. Does everybody have Skype?

Several people typing….

B: Yea

M: Yup

A is typing…

I: Yes

D: Here we go!

A is typing…

A: Yes!

E: Cool, we have a test call in 15 minutes.

One eternity later… (of course, we respect timing, we just forgot to sync our watches!)

*Skype ringtone*

E: Pick up the call, everybody! This is what we can do: we see each other each morning around 9, we stay in the call as long as we need and we dress up like we’re going to the office. We have lunch dates on video calls as well. We’re getting through this together! Is everybody cool? Now, who needs the VPN?

A is typing…

B: I think it is a must only for the designers. Diskstation shit. Can I turn off my camera now? I don’t want to see you chewing all day long.

M: Come on, you’re chewing at the office all the time! Partners in crime.

A is typing….

A: Guys?

A is typing….

M: Can we all use Figma now?

B: Yes

A is typing…

A: My computer crashed down! I was using Illustrator as usual and suddenly…

B: Check the USB port.

R: USB port, check connections

Several people typing…

D: Guys, do you have a minute? there is a bug we should fix.

I: Hello, do you hear me?

D: We don’t hear you.

I: And how did you answer my questions?

A is typing…

D: Stop talking, we don’t hear you!

A: yes

R: How did you do that? I want to see myself on the bigger tab, I want a full screen with me, actually

A: Guys, I can’t fix my computer…

E: Is anybody working over there? Focus, please. Thanks.

And basically, this is how our test conference went like. Luckily we did better on the next tries. We have become real masters of it, actually. Is it maybe cause we decided to do it only when it was a must and not all day long for fun? Hmmm…

When everything gets a rhythm

To be honest, we’ve been a little bit concerned about the way this home office period would affect our work schedule and processes, but we truly made it in the end. It took like 2 days, but we figured out how to use the VPN, to sync data, to deal with counting working hours, to make all the programs work like usual (Figma is an exclusivist diva, Illustrator won’t cooperate until your device is a premium rank and Photoshop is already sick of being the backup choice) and so on.

After all the struggles, we settled down. The weekly meeting was quick and clear for everybody, our office-out-of-office is now a work-friendly environment and the internal communication finally got 80% focus on the actual tasks and deadlines (we still show off with our new recipes and debate whether we should do some yoga or fitness after work).

Do you know what else happened? Here’s a hint: have you ever wondered what are your colleagues listening to in their headphones? Neither have we. Until now. And this gave us a nice idea: to start working on our agency playlist on Spotify. We shared our favorite songs, the moody beats and the guilty pleasures of our taste in music. Yes, yes, add this song here, of course, we want to listen to what your friend Jimmy sent you. Wow, how did we survive the work schedule without this artist until now?! That’s so cool, type the article on this beat! Your email is complete, press ‘send’ on the next drum, you’ll feel amazing. Do all these sound crazy? Here you have our inspirational and uplifting tunes. Feel free to suggest us some more:

How do you guys deal with the home office safety measure? Do you have any tips & tricks to share? Drop us a line with the craziest things that happened lately at work!

‘Everything is going to be fine’ collection.

Stay safe, see you online!

October 31, 2019

Feed us what you have, TikTok!

Come on, it's fun!

For a digital agency, the Social Media world is very important and any attempt to conquer it has to be highly calculated before each and every step.

Kidding. It’s not that harsh. Do your magic. Have some fun, just like we did! 

This time is going to be about our newest concern, TikTok. Just in case you’re still in 2016, TikTok is one of the highest-rated, downloaded, used, loved, worshiped (and so on, you got the point) video app nowadays. Its purpose is to help you create and share personal video content with users from all over the world. There are also some challenges to have fun with, but we’re going to talk about this a bit later. Keep scrolling.

Catching up with online trends be like.

Where to, now?

We’ve been talking in previous articles about the fake importance of having a job title, tips & tricks for newbies in the agencies and also about some helpful tools. Now some other Social Media magic trick got us inspired. As we said, the great TikTok.

Hey there, agency life, could this be helpful to you?

How it all went down

No Social Media channel has its own and exclusive content. Think about the link between the apps and the possibility to share the content from each one to another. All these trends are so spread that it doesn’t matter if you’ve downloaded a certain app or not. You will surely find some related content on any other channel at some point. And this happened to us with TikTok. 

So it all started with a bit of curiosity. A bit more, actually.

Spreading all over Social Media

First of all, we had to get familiar with the TikTok content in his natural habitat, and not from some Instagram feed. Store > TikTok > Get the app. Now let’s get it started.

So, step one: sell your soul to the devil by signing up. Once your account is created, there’s no way back. Trust us.

Step two: keep scrolling. Give a chance to each and every video. Inspiration comes in so strange and unexpected ways…

Step three: don’t check the time, you might get a heart attack noticing that you’ve spent all day ‘searching for inspiration’ and you have to postpone your daily duties. Again.Step four: discover the trending challenges, rate them and accept them. 

Curious to find out what are these about? The answers are here and here.Step five: have you had enough fun? Good. Now go back to work and let people know what a fun life you are having in the agency! That’s the purpose, after all. So let’s take some shots.

Extra tip: if you ever look at your coworkers and wonder... `what is going on inside their head?`, just keep in mind that what you find out might be harmful. 

Step six: got your video done? Post it! Don’t forget about the relevant hashtags that make you popular. Be generous with them. Ok, not that generous, you don’t want to cover your masterpiece. Clean, clear, clever, claim those damn likes & followers!

Double-extra tip: use some feedback before any final decision. In fact, any experiment has to be approved first of all. Attention? Attention! More attention. Attention now, please! Thank you.

Step seven: no more steps, you’re done. Stay tuned and see what happens.

The audience for this kind of post never dies.

Who else is an early adopter?

Even if TikTok is at the beginning as a commercial platform, it caught the attention of marketers and they are falling for it one by one. From Chipotle to NBA and San Diego Zoo, brands started to be involved in this TikTok community more and more. 

Forget about the pixel-perfect and ten-steps-forward thought content! The boost of this movement seems to be the fact that the audience actually enjoys a less organized content, with the sense of `keep it real` and a more natural flow. And this couldn’t be better for expressing the daily struggle in the agency, right?

Surprisingly or not, there is a lot of agency life to offer to TikTok-ers, especially when it comes to challenges. There you had some of our ideas to be shared.

The future is under your nose

Everything is a marketing tool if you are brave enough. Or crazy enough. Or you have plenty of time. Just be bold. Try everything that comes out. The Social Media world is full of resources. So should be the inner you.

Do you need another piece of advice? Don’t be afraid to introduce to your client the big boys, itty bitty boys, Mississippi boys or the city boys by using TikTok when it comes to brand persona. Convince him that people gonna love it even more! 

But that’s enough for now. Go conquer the world! Have fun! And stay tuned for more of our stories and experiments. 

Oh, we almost forgot, what about the relationship between postcards and Social Media stories as a future topic? Here's a picture to motivate your decision.

Mallorca, 2019, and Emilia's sense of humor

June 4, 2019

How to ‘fake it until you make it’ while being a newbie

How it all goes down…

Networking is priceless. Especially when you are looking for a job. Imagine this situation: ‘Haha, yeah, and I was there talking to X, done that when I was a child and so did Y. No way, do you like french fries too? Omg, haha hired. You are hired.’

Is this how I got hired?

Partially. Long story short, I was hanging out with some friends of some friends when this happened:

- Don’t you happen to know someone who wants to do some sales in High Contrast?

- Um.. well.. me? I guess. I don’t know. Sure, I can do it!

- Ok, see you on Monday for a friendly talk.

- What?

- What?

- I mean yeah, sure, see you soon!

The interview

You know you’re talking to the CEO trying to conquer her heart. The guy next to you is never gonna stop talking and asking you everything in the world. Then you find out he is the founder. That kind of friendly talk. I’ve been talking about the things I like, other than the french fries, about my full past accomplishments and the incredibly bright future I see for myself and High Contrast. Of course, only if they accept me. Fake it until you make it.

Must have been love at first talk. Or at least love at the seventh version of email I had to come up with for the next day.

Welcome to the funhouse, newbie

The first few days compare to nothing. All of your thoughts scream that this is the dream job. You meet your co-workers, you have lunch together and the masters fight for the mentorship. Everything for you in order to feel comfortable with your position.

Agency life is cool, all fun and laughter until one of the not-so-fresh team members asks you a simple question: what is a style guide?

Wait, what?

Now you’re doomed. Start pretending you’re busy and summon all the tasks you’ve never had but that are very important and can’t suffer any delay. Fake it, get some time.

Here’s a life saving piece of advice: do NOT ignore any of your co-workers requests, never ever in this life. You won’t get far with that.

Our lovely cactus assistant.

Now what?

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned since I got here is that nobody forgets any task. Not even yours. They always remember. And they haunt you. If they seem not to, for sure there is something else with the same importance that needs to be done. Or at least it should be.

Nevermind.

There is no escape. Emails. Sticky notes on your desktop. Slack messages. Everything in the office is a powerful weapon against your lack of knowledge. So go find out what’s this hecking style guide. Time’s up for pretending.

What are all these about?

This is it, your saviour

Ladies and gentlemen, aunts and grannies, newbies around the world, let me introduce you FAKEIT.DIGITAL, the easiest way to save your ass from this kind of trouble. Let me explain: this is a funky dictionary with daily used terms in digital agencies. Highly recommended for noobs, dummies, interns, neighbours, lovers, friends and families of people who work and live in agencies around the world. Even your mom will understand what you do. So should you.

But let’s see how this is going to help with the daily struggle in the agency life. These are some of the most important things you have to know:

And then the others. But you will get used to them, don’t worry. Style guide you said? What a pain in the ass…

Time was passing by and so was Robert’s patience. (Forgot to mention, Robert is the one backstabbing me with this question). ‘Try Brand Manual’ he told me. What a merciful man he is!

Go to B, Brand Manual: Don’t get anxious, it’s not an IKEA instruction manual, but a very important document with nice images, rules and instructions for using a brand. Clear now? Go tell Robert, your personal trouble maker co-worker. Would he be pleased? Would you be allowed to leave the office without 50 squats? No one knows. Be brave. Go hard or go home!

Happily ever after

I was about to get an extra task as a punishment for trying to get rid of this blessed question, but a pair of puppy eyes saved me just in time.

Warning! Don’t try this at work. The only escape is to fake it. Fake it until you make it.

Here you can find the easy peasy ABC of a peaceful life in the agency. Thank us later.

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Copyright © 2002 - 2021 High Contrast. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2002 - 2021 High Contrast. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2002 - 2021 High Contrast. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2002 - 2020 High Contrast. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2002 - 2020 High Contrast. All rights reserved.

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