One day you go to bed complaining about commuting, and the next thing you know you couldn’t miss it more – it’s true, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted our lives in ways once unimaginable. Previously a business trend forecasted for the next generations, remote working has now become a common practice within most companies around the globe. Seems like a small price to pay for the increased safety of all – if it weren’t for the fact that being stuck at home actually sucks.
We at Saddington Baynes are fortunate enough to be a digital company – we have all the processes in place to allow us to be off-site. From final retouching, compositing, to CGI and motion, we’re keeping the wheels turning the best way we can.
However, converting to a virtual role can have a huge impact on the mental health of our employees. After all, creative teams are adaptable, yes, but they’re also interactive. Our business model focuses on inclusion and collaboration – so how does a team that thrives on human interchange deal with solo isolation for the foreseeable future?
First of all, we need to accept the fact that things are – for at least a while – going to be difficult. No one could be blamed for feeling apprehensive or vulnerable in times like these, and being there for each other is our main priority as a group – not only as Saddington Baynes, but as the creative community itself. In that spirit, we’d like to share our experience adjusting to this new situation, and how we have structured our days to feel less blue.
#1 By Having Our Own Customised Space
Rather than cooping yourself up in areas associated with leisure time – like your bedroom or on the sofa – we’ve encouraged our team to consider having a specific room or surface for work. Decorate it as though it looks like your own little office and have an “at work” sign if needed so that people don’t interrupt you. Once you have a dedicated space to do your job, it also means you’ll know when to stop and, most importantly, where to unplug. We’ve then asked our team to share their work areas with us and take pride in their new office environment. Why? Because being able to visualise where someone is, helps to calm anxiety. It also goes a long way to feeling less alone in isolation.
#2 By Taking Care of Our Health – Both Physical and Mental
Trust us: don’t expect to master the science of remote working from day one if you’re not used to it yet. Official advice will say take regular breaks, exercise as much as you can, and limit your social media time and news exposure. Of course, we agree with all of this - there’s method and science behind this advice - however, we have some helpful tips for working in isolation.
As a team, our take on smart-casual was relaxed at the best of times, so being at home there are no dress codes. Whatever makes you feel most comfortable, go for it, throw the rule book away. Wear your PJs, join Zoom in elaborate headwear, start an in-house music channel, continue to celebrate birthdays, have a virtual pub trip and try and check in with a new/different team member each day. Over communicate and share your small successes. Most importantly, make sure that at least one call a day is just for chit-chat!
But back to official advice... NHS and BBC health have shared important advice on how to protect your health, and Headspace, for instance, is offering guided meditation you can listen to at any time. Or how about a daily session of yoga with Adriene to stay positive? The Body Coach 7 Days of Sweat Challenge is also the perfect way to release endorphin and keep energised.
#3 By Staying Together Whilst Apart
It’s hard not to feel lonely when self-isolating and social distancing – we’ve been trying to prevent that since day one. Below you can find some our of our tactics to keep our team together whilst apart:
Moan 'Not' Alone
We love to have a good moan, but in the presence of our work family. That’s why we set up a Slack group dedicated to this – anything goes! It's also a good way to see who isn't responding and therefore who may be most vulnerable.
WFH Selfies and desk station setups
We’ve been sharing this on our official SB social channels so we can interact with our wider community... It's been super inclusive and tongue in cheek so far – we also run polls on what they love and hate.
It’s an extra channel of communication that allows you to have group video chats, either with the clients or with your team – we have ours on all day on mute, so if someone has a question or feels lonely they can just jump straight on and feel less alone.
Friday Beer o'Clock has gone digital
The whole team joins a zoom call at 5 pm to do a virtual pub quiz – we love our social evenings on Fridays and there is no stopping us.
Online Ping Pong championship online
Discord has a number of games included and just because we don't have the actual table, that doesn't mean we aren't gonna keep practising.We’re living rather weird times and this is only our way of navigating them. If you’ve got a daily routine that has been working for you/your company and think it would be helpful to include in this article, we’d love to hear from you! Of one thing we’re certain: in times of isolation, creative communities will thrive together.
Ellie Lucas is head of marketing at Saddington Baynes.