Discipline is needed in order to remain creative while running a business, according to industrial designer and entrepreneur Kenneth Cobonpue.
“Creativity is no different from any sport … You have to keep on doing it and devoting certain time for it. I fix a few hours of trying to come up with something every day,” he said during a webinar on business resilience in the time of COVID-19.
This practice became tougher when lockdowns were implemented, not only for himself but also for his employees. With the mental adjustment of working from home and fewer sources of inspiration to work with, Mr. Cobonpue saw their productivity decrease.
To address this dip, he implemented a start-of-day (SOD) and end-of-day (EOD) monitoring system where his employees had to give updates on their health and wellness, family issues, location, work tasks, and work concerns. They were able to discipline themselves better through this system, resulting in an almost threefold increase in productivity despite the lockdowns.
Maintaining a measure of mobility within the home also helped boost creativity. “When you’re bored in one space, you move—trying to find inspiration or a different perspective on life depending where you look,” said Mr. Cobonpue.
Since taking photos of the furniture in their showrooms was no longer an option, they rendered them digitally. They also shifted to making smaller pieces such as clutches and jewelry holders, understanding the challenges of producing and moving big pieces of furniture (as well as the cost).
Mr. Cobonpue is aware that the drive to perform amid the pandemic could lead to fatigue. Eagle Hill Consulting, a management consulting firm, recently reported that 58% of the workforce in the United States were feeling burnt out. Forty-seven percent attributed it to their workload, 39% to balancing work and personal life, and 28% to performance expectations.
When such feelings arise, it’s important for employees to find something that makes them happy and can keep their mind off work, even for a while. It doesn’t have to be something grand. Mr. Cobonpue’s fellow panelists in “Business resilience in the time of COVID-19,” a webinar organized by insurance company Manulife China Bank, shared their coping mechanisms. Richard Yap, actor and owner of restaurant chain Wangfu, said that he prays and works out. Victoria Hilado, an estate preparation, planning, and settlement lawyer, said that she watches murder and mystery movies.
“If you’re not happy, you can’t be creative. You can’t be inspired,” said Mr. Cobonpue. — Mariel Alison L. Aguinaldo