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TEAM TALK: Blurring backgrounds, magic moments and hearts growing fonder

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TEAM TALK: Blurring backgrounds, magic moments and hearts growing fonder

Four more of our fabulous team members share their working from home experiences from shambolic spaces to early morning Cbeebies fun and learnings on resilience through isolation…


Blurring my background

As told by Loralie (Project Manager)

This room in which I work from home was previously our study/guest/TV/“chuck-it-in-there” room – a room that has never been decorated since we moved in five years ago. It’s got rejected bits of furniture and other random items in here, such as a fibreglass blue marlin, American number plates from previous cars, a periodic table of elements and an almighty stack of DVDs. It also holds our infamous family portrait.  This room seriously needs a make-over and its tiny desk set-up doesn’t afford me a picturesque window view either, but it has done ‘well enough’ as my workspace since March.

I’m grateful to have this shambolic space so that I can shut off from the rest of the house when needed – it’s been like my haven, keeping me comfortable and cocooned, while our team ‘catch-up’ calls every morning keep me connected and motivated. These Teams calls give me something to get dressed for too. A degree of routine is important for me. Apart from being at home, my work activity hasn’t changed much, except that I do find it hard to ‘switch off’ and break away at the end of the day – the temptation to take a peek at work stuff is always there. I do miss the spontaneous chats and face-to-face meetings, as well as the banter and general background noise from the studio, but our Slack channels have become a whirlwind of creative thoughts and friendly abuse, which goes some of the way to compensate.

Aside from work, there have been some seemingly small gains to working from home – being here has meant I have been able to put the washing on the line outside (yes!), check the new veg patch more regularly, take deliveries, see a bit more of the kids, cat and fish, squeeze in the occasional run at lunchtime, nip to the fridge as often as I like… all these things add up to make me happier.

The downside is … the weight gain 🙁


Magic moments you can never get back 

As told by Pete (Designer)

Having freelanced for a number of years, working from home is something I’m quite used to. 

I much prefer the morning routine, getting the baby his bottle instead of sitting in traffic and being in the car for an hour is far more enjoyable. I used to listen to a podcast or music in the car but that’s now been replaced with CBeebies, which I enjoy just as much!

Distractions – kids, dogs, delivery drivers and the old postman who loves a chat. He normally knocks my door mid afternoon and just stands there waiting for me to talk to him, sometimes I’m even on the phone and he still stands there. If the dog runs out and licks him then that adds another 5 minutes. His round must take him forever!

Magic moments – We had Albie last year and working from home has allowed me to see him everyday, far more than I would if I was travelling to work and being out all day. Being here when he does something new, learns a new word, took his first steps are moments I would most likely have missed. It’s the little pros like this that I like best. The work life balance becomes a blur but because I enjoy what I do, sticking to 9-5 isn’t a problem and if I need to take a few minutes out for whatever reason I can just come back to my desk and pick up work again.

Perfect balance – I’m lucky to have such an amazing balance at home. Sara, does everything she can to make sure I’m not distracted by baby, kids, dog or anything else when she knows I’ve got a lot on and it’s great to be able to chat with her through the day and even bounce ideas off of her and get a different view on some of my concepts.

The downside – The biggest downside is the lack of real social interaction, the office banter, Friday scampi and just generally not seeing people. Teams calls are good and definitely bridge the gap but the office vibe at Alive is a special one and you do notice the difference being at home.

The pros – I feel more focussed on work and wanting to push myself to deliver the best creative I can for each given brief. In terms of concept development, discussing ideas and even if you hit a creative block, a quick Teams call usually gets you back on track right away. Taking 10 minutes out to chat about your ideas is something I rarely did when in the office, but it’s something I think working from home has brought out and a quick call with one of the other designers really helps to steer an idea in the right direct. 

If this way of working is the ‘new norm’ then I’m really enjoying it and would be happy to carry on in this way but to also come in to the office on occasions to have the best of both!


A walk on the creative side

As told by Andy (Design and Animation)

It still feels weird to be working from home. I do like just popping down to the living room to start work but on the flip side I have found it’s harder to shut off when your mac is downstairs.

While I have a lovely bright conservatory to work from, it can be cramped as I often share with one of my family. As we are in close proximity and often on different calls it can be distracting as you can imagine.

I need a routine and structure as I can be lazy without it and I miss the inspiration I get from being at work.  There are no creative wall coverings or posters for me to get ideas from at home, nor a quick lunchtime trip to the shops to be inspired by my favourite brands. A quick scoot around town gives me a chance to do some thinking about project(s) and also to clear my head and have a bit of a refresh that you don’t always get at home.

So, I’ve been working in the Alive office a few days a week when I can book a space (new measures mean we can’t all go in). It has helped me break things up a bit and the atmosphere is more familiar. I can bounce ideas around with colleagues and it feels more natural to grab 10 mins with someone, rather than calling them specifically. I really miss the office banter and the abuse (mainly) Laura gives me. And while the banter doesn’t disappoint on our comms channels it just isn’t quite the same as in person!



Life beyond the four walls

As told by Ian (Web Developer)

I had already been working from home for a long time, so had an established and comfortable working space. Talking to colleagues, I knew my working day and environment didn’t change as much as others. If anything, work was the only part of life that wasn’t significantly different, although that’s not to say it was plain sailing.

Working from home and living alone can sometime feel quite isolated but isn’t normally a problem. Seeing my daughter, occasionally popping to a coffee shop with my laptop for a change of scenery and watching live bands were all important parts of my life balance.

With the news, social media and a flow of emails cancelling gigs for company it became too easy to become anxious and overly introspective. The challenge was to learn from the introspection and move forwards.

Cue the brutal crash course in self-awareness! I had to learn what triggered certain feelings and how to be content with my own company. Taking a break from social media and rediscovering doing creative things for fun both helped a lot.

I still don’t know when, or even if, things that mean a lot to me will return to normal but I feel more resilient for the future.



Read some of our other stories …

TEAM TALK: On the bed, in the shed and anywhere else available

TEAM TALK: Bras, cacti and alarming nappies: Staying Alive while WFH

“I feel like they own and care for the project as much as we do! I would not use anyone else for my creative work and think Alive is ahead of the game.”

Jo Hobbs — Communications Manager

“Thanks for all your help. We are delighted with the campaign, both in terms of the creativity and messaging but also the thought taken over the rollout of the materials. All looks absolutely fabulous!”

Sarah Crowdy — Campaign and Media Officer Communications, South East Water

“We went to ‘Alive’ for ideas on how to run a specific employee program in Europe. Alan and his team were brilliant in coming up with fresh, creative and practical approaches. The team took charge and executed brilliantly. We are pleased with the progress made so far and hope to have the same level of partnership and commitment going forward.”

Sobha Varghese — Tata Consultancy Services

“Alive helped us create a video of our response to the floods of winter 2019. Our Chief Officer received messages from all round the country praising us for it and was really pleased with both the video and the response to it.”

Alexander Mills, Communications Manager — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“We had the privilege to work with the Alive team. It was our first time to be involved in creating an animation for our patients within paediatrics. The team were approachable, friendly, creative and very accommodating. Your vision for what you want to create, is at all times acknowledged, appreciated and accommodated by the team. They worked effectively and with great passion towards our project and worked not only alongside health professionals but also our patients who really enjoyed the experience of working with the Alive team. It has given our team the confidence and inspiration to do further projects in the future. We highly recommend Alive and their exceptional team.”

DR ELENI ATHANASAKOS, Lead Paediatric Clinical Scientist — NHS Barts Health

“‘The short animation developed in co-production with clinicians and young people is outstanding! Informative, developmentally appropriate, vitally fun and engaging. We are really grateful for the expertise of the Alive with Ideas team for their innovative approach in building children’s health literacy.'”

Kath Evans — Director of Children’s Nursing at Barts Health

“Our mission was to update our brand visuals to better reflect our innovative and forward-thinking organisation. After receiving numerous pitches from different branding agencies, Alive stood out with their clear passion and understanding of our identity and goals. We thoroughly enjoyed working with the Alive Team to create an engaging new brand that we are immensely proud of.”

Lianne Springer — Communications and Engagement Lead

“Alive wowed us during the pitch process and they didn’t stop wowing us throughout the whole project. Every person we worked with at Alive were so friendly, knowledgeable and clearly passionate about what they do. They have worked with us to really understand what we do and have created a new brand and website that really stands out from our competitors. Thank you!”

Louise Burnard, Head of Marketing and Communications UK — Be | Shaping the Future

“I think the team have done such a brilliant job, particularly with responding to our requests. It's one of the best mental health videos I've ever seen. Very proud to be associated with your exemplary work. Thank you so much.”

Dr Anna Batho — Clinical Psychologist – Critical Care, UCLH

“We have worked with Alan, Caroline and the wider Alive With Ideas team for many years. In that time, they have provided a dedicated service that is second to none. We appreciate their attention to detail and creative approach to bringing our brand, communications and stories to life. And would recommend them to anyone looking for creative communications support.”

Georgia Beech — Internal Communications Specialist, Ocado Group

“This is brilliant. I wanted to give my heartfelt thanks to all of the team who worked on this. You all understood exactly what we wanted to communicate and why, and then managed to do it in a way that was far better than anything I could have imagined. I’m a bit choked up to be honest!”

Sarah Wright, Head of Communications and Campaigns — NEA

“Each time I work with the team, I am always stunned at the effort and creativity that goes into each detail and am always eager for the end result. The team is extremely accommodating and always provide a fresh approach to our projects that elevates our communications materials!”

Alana Khaytin, Communications Specialist — Braskem America

“What I really appreciate about Alive is that they work with us as partners, and care as much about getting it right for our patients as we do.”

Sara Langston, Patient Engagement & Marketing Manager — italk

“Alive are unique in how much they deeply listen and invest in you and your ideas. I have not come across a company that listens as much as they do to ensure your needs are understood and met (actually - they always exceed my needs and expectations). Everyone I recommend Alive to has an equally brilliant experience. When you work with Alive, you are not only getting some genius creativity brought into your life, you are also hanging out with some of the best examples of human beings I’ve ever known.”

Steph Tranter, Hybrid Exec Coach & Psychologist —

“The (Alive) team were able to creatively pull together and document (in just over 2minutes) everything our service has achieved over the last few months, from thousands of prescriptions deliveries to hundreds of phone calls made to the vulnerable. The final product was so powerful and reflective of what our service has and continues to achieve. It couldn’t have been better received within the service – thanks Alive for once again helping us to communicate our vision!’”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire & Rescue

“We worked with the team at Alive to create our staff recognition video.
At a time like this, its never been more important to share the amazing work that our staff have done and continue to do on a daily basis under very difficult circumstances. We wanted to shout about this and recognise that when the time came, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue stepped up to the plate. We didn’t want an ordinary thank you post on social media or a basic email sent out internally, we wanted something special. Enter Alive. ”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“Our company is fun, we have great brands, but most importantly we’re all about our people – and I wanted an agency who would understand that and help us bring it to life through our website and other comms. Straight away I felt that Alive ‘got’ us and provided the creative inspiration exactly where we needed it, as well as the technical expertise to deliver a well-functioning website.”

Keren McCarron, Head of Corporate Affairs & Communications — KP Snacks

Thank you so much. Incredible work done at incredible speed by incredible people.
Outstanding work as ever and what a turnaround. As for the concepts – wow. These are that good it would be an insult to describe them as just good. It’s a joke, quite frankly. This is exactly the Alive effect I was after. Right now I feel like I am living in an Alive With Ideas wonderland. Thank you!”

Jack Grasby, Campaigns Manager — SYFR

“If you are looking to improve creativity and build teamwork, I highly recommend a session like this for your team. No matter where you are in your creativity journey, a workshop like this can give your team a boost of energy and ideas to invigorate their creative thinking.”

Amy Lilja, IC Manager — Hennepin Healthcare

“Alive were there to help when we were working every hour to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. They gave us the creativity, ideas and support we needed to deliver campaigns which empowered our residents in the most difficult time most of us have ever seen, personally and professionally. The team understood what we needed, worked closely with us and delivered fast without any compromise on quality. Working with Alive has been a joy in the darkest of times and I have no doubt will have helped to save lives. Thanks team x”

Julie Odams, Assistant Director of Communications & Customers — Derbyshire County Council

“We got 'Alive' involved to help us shift mindsets across our organisation and they delivered! Using simple, clear and creative ideas the team have delivered us a campaign which has seen a dramatic increase in idea sharing and development. They’ve also played a significant role in creating a culture of shared success. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with again, in fact, we already are!”

Gavin Buckle — B&Q
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