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

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

When you work in an office adorned with illustrations of wrestlers and with a moose’s head staring watchfully over you at all times, there’s not much that can put you off work.

But during the enforced, extended work from home period, the Alive team has been no different to so many others in having to create and conjure spaces to be able to carry on being creative and productive.

So we wanted to share some of the more colourful, revealing and smelly reflections on our WFH existence..


Planes, trains and automobiles no more

As told by Alan (Director)

Before lockdown I regularly said that I needed to work from home more often. Strangely, I haven’t said that for the last few months.

Lockdown and working from home have meant that time together in the office has disappeared. I miss it and everyone.

But I wasn’t always in the office and could regularly be found working from planes, trains, automobiles, coffee shops, service stations, hotels and any other place that I happened to find myself. This has also disappeared. I’m more than ok with travelling less and I’m happy in my own company (most of the time). But I have struggled with the lack of physical movement that a normal day gives. I try to bookend my day with a walk with Winston (my dog) to help with this.

Working from home days regularly start early. I like to get through a few things before others are online. Also, Alex and I meet (virtually) early to plan the day ahead. There are many positives to come out of this way of working…

  • More project focused meetings
  • Loads of ideas being shared in our slack channels
  • The team spending more time with families particularly those with young children

I’m lucky enough to have a small space where I can work from which has cactus wallpaper. People seem to like! It reminds me a little of the office wall graphics and coat stands. There’s been a couple of occasions when I’ve had to duck out the way on a call so that a photo can be taken of it. When I can I work outside – it makes me feel better and helps with my wellbeing. Occasionally I work in the kitchen but I have to move when Alfie (my 18 year old son) gets up for breakfast, usually around 2pm.

WFH or WTF? WFH. For now.


Budgies and bras

As told by Laura (Animation)

My computer is in the living room and my internet is shit half the time. I live with one yapping puppy, one loud budgie and one NHS worker who gets frustrated if dinner isn’t on the table when she gets home. Fair play when you’ve been working 10 straight hours with the public. There’s also one annoying neighbour that cuts her grass every bloody day and shouts when FaceTiming people from her garden.


They say act as if you’re going into the office when you’re working from home. Maintain structure. Keep to a routine. I agree with this. Apart from one thing…When working at Alive HQ, as soon as I got home I would whip my bra off. That’s my ‘I can relax’ moment after a long day at work.

At home, I’ve found myself doing that earlier and earlier. I do love the freedom going bra-free allows, and it’s much more comfortable. But I’ve forced myself to keep that aspect of normality by putting it on every morning, just to keep the routine, even though I know I’m going be throwing it off in an hour.We know it’s the little things that matter. And in lockdown, my bra has become an important symbol of freedom for me.


Sights and smells of WFH

As told by James (Comms and Content)

I started off lockdown with a three-month-old baby who did not a lot else but glug milk. She’s now seven months and counting, scoffing food like she doesn’t know when she’ll next get a supermarket delivery slot (she’s learnt fast) and yabbering away like a trooper.

To be able to work from home, I’ve had to squat and co-share her nursery. Initially I had it to myself, while she slept in our room, so only had to accept the Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star ‘motivational’ wall graphics.

But since she’s moved into her cot in the room, I’ve become increasingly marginalised, squeezed into a corner so that means my Zoom calls are framed by elephant curtains and a sheep mobile. And with my desk being adjacent to the changing table, the fragrances and vistas from my chair are varied and occasionally alarming.

At least I’m next to a window to gulp fresh air when I need to.



Rhythm … and blues

As told by Ally (Digital and Projects)

I am used to working from home. I’ve done it for over 12 years and have learned how to work in busy coffee shops and even in the car when we’ve had tradesman in and I’ve needed home wifi!

Working from the dining room table was my peaceful oasis. A bright room, lots of space and the radio playing some chilled tunes. The dog curled up at my feet, hot cups of coffee and the most important aspect .. time to think. You get the picture. So I didn’t think lockdown would affect me that much. Oh how wrong was I??

Now my home office is a table for three. The rhythm of the house feels more like a head banging heavy metal concert.  The dog seems to be barking loudly at every passer by and weirdly there seems to be more visitors and deliveries than normal to keep my fur baby on his toes and his vocal chords busy.

My workspace isn’t cacti, illustrations and lots of banter. It’s now a sea of revision books and pieces of paper. A place where a pen thief has taken up residency and we play an endless games of pass the parcel of laptop use with the loser making their annoyance clear. (That’s if they actually want to do any work at all that is.) And the banter – if you can call it that –  is more a loud groaning.

But in equal measures those increased noise levels have seen me watching the children interview each other, be performers, sing loudly, be creative, dance freely and belly laugh at Tik Tok’s and silly memes. ‘Slowdown’ hasn’t been all bad.


My Secret Garden

As told by Caroline (Comms and Content)

We talk a lot about where we’re most creative. For me, It’s certainly not in the lounge with the 4 year old, watching Paw Patrol. And it’s not upstairs with the 11 year old belting out Hungry Eyes for the 100th time.

I’m lucky enough to have space outside. When I moved in here 8 years ago, I created ‘The Secret Garden’. A place for the kids to enjoy time outside with their mates. Ha! Who was I kidding?! They’re like vampires, aren’t they? They shrivel at the slightest sign of day light and coil at the though of fresh air. And who benefits from that? Me!

That Secret Garden is all mine now. And I relish the moments I get to sit there, just being. Hiding. Letting thoughts flow, ideas shape and words happen. It’s not long before I’m found by the small crack team of children desperate for more snacks, more attention and more noise. But I’ll take what I can get.

Working from home sucks at times. But I’ve found a place where I can enjoy nature, gobble up fresh air, think and breathe. And that’s vital for my own mental wellbeing.


Read some of our other stories …

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

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


“The guys at Alive understand the complexities of our business which means we don’t need to explain the detail of every project or design piece – they’re already on it, which keeps things moving and delivers the results we need.”

Emily Stoten — Head of Marketing, Selecta

“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

“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 —

“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

“Alive were professional, friendly and great to work with. Most importantly they were creative, helping us to bring an extremely important safety campaign to life.”

Jack Grasby — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“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

“This looks amazing - brought a smile to my face scrolling through it :-)”

Jack Ford, Head of Marketing — streamGO

“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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