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

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

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.


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

“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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