Doomed. That was the prevailing mood at Color, a 50-person creative agency, when the pandemic shut its offices in Seattle and Los Angeles. “Among the many business fears that Covid brought on,” says Elie Goral, executive creative director, “the concept of needing to isolate our creative energy was one of the scariest. Creative ideation is that frenetic spark that happens when a group of people are together, face-to-face, beers in hand, pacing back and forth against a messy whiteboard.”

A “close-knit culture” had traditionally helped his colleagues share abstract ideas and feedback. He worried about the impact of remote working “without the ability to casually socialise in the spaces around our offices specifically designed for impromptu conversation”...

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