Beer and boardgames, flowers and felines, hot-desking and home schooling. The distractions of life at home have been endless and inescapable. But our team members continue to gallantly take on the challenge!
We shared the stories of some Alive folk who were juggling babies and bras whilst remaining creative at home.
As our enforced, extended WFH period continues we hear from a few more crew members at Alive who have reflected on their experiences and provided a little peep into their private lives…
On the bed, in the shed, dining room table and anywhere else available
As told by Alex (Director)
Working from home during lockdown has definitely had its ups and downs. Fortunately the ups far outweigh the downs. The down days are normally quickly sorted with a blast of Lovely day by Bill Withers.
Under lockdown my working day has been pretty structured. It tends to start early before anyone else in the house has risen from their beds. Those couple of hours in the morning are the most productive of the day, I stick my headphones on and get my head down before an 8am Teams catch up with Alan. We’ve been in business for over 10 years now and I don’t think the pair of us have ever spoken about the business as much as we have done since all this craziness kicked off. Once we’re done, I grab a quick coffee, normally the 2nd of the day (Let’s be honest, sometimes the 3rd) and then it’s back on Teams for a run through with the rest of the team to chat about the day ahead and what needs to happen. Then the rest of the day is a juggle of work and managing what the kids are doing. Home schooling has also influenced the structure, tea break at 10.20, lunch at 12.15, followed by a tea break at 3.00 and then an afternoon of resisting the urge to open a beer.
The day is structured, but where I sit certainly isn’t. I’m a bit like the Littlest Hobo, always wandering and looking for somewhere new to settle. That could be anywhere form the dining room table, Bec’s desk (my wife’s) when she’s not using it, the desk in the shed (when it’s not too cold), Under Lewis’s bed (my 10 year old son), Leila’s bedroom (12 year old daughter) or at the end of the kitchen (when It’s not too hot) and even in the garden. All of this moving around actually helps to break the monotony of always being at home. It’s far from ideal not having a dedicated space for me, but I know I’m incredibly lucky to have so much choice and that others don’t have that luxury.
The lines between home and work are completely blurred and there’s definitely more hours being spent outside of the traditional 9 to 5. That was pretty normal for me anyway, but the family definitely get more of my time now, which I think is a good thing. Whether that’s break times on the trampoline; lunchtime bike rides; me cooking dinner; telling Lewis to stop shouting at Fortnite (If you know, you know) or arguing with Leila about making her bed. These little things now have more significance.
Tragically, an old friend (the same age as me) passed away from covid-19 and that certainly made me re-evaluate what’s important in life. The simple things, like walks with the family, hearing Lewis practicing guitar, Leila in her bedroom belting her lungs out to Amy Winehouse, laughing with friends (even on zoom) and just being around people that you love are what matters. Alive plays a huge part in that as well. The team that we’ve put together are like an extended family. They’re an incredible bunch and being surrounded by such a fun and inspiring group of people makes me want to push on and make sure we come out of this crisis stronger than ever before. I’m not sure when we’ll get back to the studio, but when we do, it will definitely be time to open a beer or two or three or four… 😉
Journeys to work
As told by Rob (Designer)
My usual journey into Alive was via a 15min train ride going the opposite way to the crowds heading to London. It did feel like if I was going to catch the virus anywhere it was going to be on a handrail or door button used by so many other people (the transfer from hoards who went to London on the 6.30 train probably) so I stopped the train about a week and a half before lockdown kicked in.
To be honest I quite miss that time, it was always the part of the day where I would ‘journey to work’ physically and mentally. Whether it’s letting your mind wander about projects coming up or thinking about workloads it was always a time to reset and get prepared for the day ahead. I’d drive in occasionally and it would be a welcome change but the train always gave me a bit of time to catch my thoughts and create a better separation between work and home life.
Nowadays, I’m usually legging it last minute before a work in progress meeting on Teams because I’ve managed to get out for a bike ride beforehand. My train journey has been replaced by a couple of hour-long rides each week to try and get a little bit of exercise squeezed into the day. It’s been great finding new routes and different places on the mountain bike, it’s amazing what you find on your doorstep if you just get out there and look and it’s much quieter at the start of the day than at the end (plus you can’t get sidetracked).
There’s been some weeks when I haven’t made it outside as much and it’s been really noticeable from a mood point of view so I’m determined to kick myself out of the door at 7am at least once a week and hope to keep it going if we ever get back to the studio. 350 miles this year and counting…
A place at the table
As told by Cam (Projects)
Living in a house of five, with four of us working from home, there’s been quite the rehaul of the dining table. We’re all big boardgame nerds so not too long ago we bought a new extendable dining table exclusively so we could fit all of our massive boardgames on… In a strange turn of events this has been quite the saving grace, when it was converted into a makeshift office, that could just about fit all four of us on.
It’s been surprisingly enlightening sitting around a table working with my partner, my sister and her partner. Work is such a large part of all our lives, but when we get home, we don’t really talk about it. So, there was something really insightful getting to witness first hand, my sister be a badass HR adviser, putting out fires and spinning plates like it’s no big deal. And my partner just casually designing a VR game on the dining table, wearing a VR headset like he’s from the future. These are people I would say I know inside out, yet there’s a whole world they live every day that, if it wasn’t for working from home, I would never have seen.
My desk has a view into the garden so naturally the massively overgrown Jasmin vine kept catching my eye. It’s since been pruned to an inch of its poor life, but next year, it’s going to flower it’s damn butt off! Another victim of me working from home is my poor cats. They usually enjoy a solid eight hours without me, but now every time I take a tea break, they get rudely awoken from their adorable slumber so that I can smooch them. I can’t help it; they are just too cute.
What’s the same and what’s changed?
As told by Ellie (Designer)
Still being able to work for Alive even though it is from home has been the stability I’ve needed during this pandemic as it has become one of the only things in my life that hasn’t changed.
I still start the day listening to the loving abuse between colleagues during the daily morning meetings. It’s just the subjects have changed from dodgy car parking at the office to dodgy lockdown haircuts and revealing family portraits.
I still look at my schedule and see a mix of exciting jobs rolling in. It’s just there is an increase in projects which aim to help healthcare workers and support county councils.
I still get to work closely with my clients, it’s just briefings and catch ups have moved from office meeting rooms to Zoom, with the occasional special guest pets. Cats called Dory and Nemo from Roche UK, being my favourites so far.
Best of all I still get excited for pub Fridays, as they have just changed from a cheeky pub lunch to a cheeky fridge trip and beverage declaration on Slack. So as things continue to change for me over the next few months, I know that working at home for Alive won’t and this is a comforting thought.
4 is the magic number
As told by Stan (Operations & Design)
As so many other people around the country, the juggle between children and work has been testing at times and yet a massively positive experience. Being able to spend so much more time with the children has been something that I will never forget and I hold close with amazingly fond and funny memories. Juggling the needs of 4 children though (home schooling all 4 is probably as big as some classes currently in schools!) has come with it’s challenges but whilst I never had any ambitions of being a teacher it’s certainly accidentally taught me (and I hope the children a lot!). Whilst I tried to cover the fundamental topics as best I could I think it had a very biased Creative skew and I know that teaching them Photoshop skills was a favourite – an essential skill in life in my opinion!
From a work from home perspective the trickiest part I’ve had to contend with is finding a place to work each day that doesn’t have distractions and/or children in a room. To say I hot desk is both an understatement and an exaggeration all in one (sometimes it’s a chest of drawers or a worktop!).
Without question the essence of coming together through a very testing and tough time has not only been via the amazing Alive team but also clients who I have many a deep and lengthy conversation about the situation both at work and at home bringing a better understanding to each other’s individual situations, concerns and challenges. Feeling like I’m not alone from both sides of work has certainly been a major factor of helping me cope through these last few months. Luckily both the team and our clients have very good senses of humour and laughing about certain things is great medicine in amongst all the serious news and information. Getting a glimpse into everyone’s home lives has been great in learning more about people and understanding them better. Seeing the team in their home environments (well a 15 inch window insight at least!) has not only been fascinating but great to be able to understand each team member just a little bit more. Also very funny and in parts embarrassing for certain members! (background photos and ad hoc surprise family member appearances).
I miss the physical presence of all the team in the studio greatly, however the benefits gained from consistently working from home and handling it better as time goes on is something that I expect and hope will be one of the positives we will take from this pandemic.