ifour Lockdown Chronicles: Part 1

17.04.20

Our latest series, the ifour Lockdown Chronicles, offers a sneak-peek into the realities of working from home during the COVID-19 crisis. From playful pets and restless kids to suspicious noises and our (seemingly futile) attempts at meditation, we’re lifting the lid on the ‘new normal’ for the ifour team.

Monday - Damon, Strategy Director

Morning briefing

Today I realised I’m having more meaningful conversations with colleagues now via Slack than I ever did in person. The ‘all in this together’-ness of the crisis means that I’m thinking more carefully about what each colleague might be going through before communicating with them. I get the feeling they are, too. I have come to enjoy the half an hour or so before the morning briefing video call, where we all send each other good morning messages. We pick up from the previous morning’s exchange and take the time to find out how each other is getting on. This warm glow is quickly extinguished by the morning briefing and Graeme, our founder, glorious leader and legend in his own lunchtime. He does this ‘song of the day’. 30 seconds of a classic that’s supposed to lift our spirits, but it’s choking the life out of some of my favourite tunes by forever associating them with COVID-19.

AM

The daily challenge of homeschooling the boy. I make a secret deal with him: how about we ditch the BBC Bitesize curriculum mummy has set us and watch “14 Simple Tricks to Survive Any Extreme Situation” that just popped up in a YouTube notification? That’s kind of educational, right? He enthusiastically agrees. I put my fingers to my lips and remind him that snitches get stitches. He grins and says, ‘Yeah!’ And then punches me. Surprisingly hard.

PM

Lunch and handing over the boy. We go downstairs to the kitchen, where my wife is on a call, working a community support phone line for the council. She nods at the muted television, which is now only ever tuned to BBC News. She covers her headset microphone and whispers authoritatively, “Spain, 700 deaths overnight. USA, 1,258!” She’s changed. She never used to want to talk about death and now, all of a sudden, she’s the Grim Reaper’s accountant.

My turn to work. Slack, Slack, Slack, Zoom. Email from a client I’ve been chasing. She is worried but supportive. She confirms they are continuing with one project but pauses another. I’m surprised by her choice but suspect there are too many unknowns for her to make a truly strategic decision and so she’s selected them at random. At least it’s work. 

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Illustrated by Damon

Tuesday - Jess, Senior Campaign Strategist

Morning briefing

It’s 9:34 and Graeme (our fearless leader) is about to play his daily inspirational song to get the team fired up. Today it’s ‘Living In A Box’ – a bit on-the-nose…

AM

It’s quiet. Really quiet. So quiet, in fact, that I’ve become aware of a buzzing somewhere in my flat. It’s been going since Friday evening, which makes this Day Four. I’ve investigated all of my kitchen appliances, my television, and my speaker. No luck. I’m pretty sure I can feel the sound in my body now. Here begins my slow descent into madness.

PM

The buzzing is coming from inside the wall. I know this because I’ve just spent 20 minutes crawling around on the floor and climbing across worktops to try and ‘follow the sound.’ It’s not great news. I just hope that my noise-cancelling headphones can prevent me from taking a hammer to the plasterboard.

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Illustrated by Jess

Wednesday - Fiona, Senior Designer

Morning briefing

Joined online briefing with sound of what seems to be pneumatic drilling coming from flat above. This causes colleagues to think someone is grinding coffee next to microphone during meeting. Despite noise, can still make out sound of our leader Graeme’s song of the day. Didn’t recognise today’s tune, but did enjoy team member Mel dancing along to it in front of camera for our entertainment. 

AM

After morning briefing get in a couple of hour’s work before stomach starts rumbling. Make lunch and sit next to open living room window of 4th floor flat pretending to eat ‘al fresco’. Follow this with ten minutes of lying on floor listening to plinky plonky meditation music on Insight Timer app, hoping to create inner calm.

PM

Continue work designing for client brand guidelines. In effort to improve shoulder discomfort, adjust workstation by improvising laptop stand using box-shaped vintage handbag and create footrest with industrial sized tin of paint. At 4pm head to kitchen, overcome with burning need for chocolate and tea to power me through final hour of working day.

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Illustrated by Jess as Fi was too busy :)

Thursday - Jimi, Senior Graphic & Lead Website Designer

Morning briefing 

Arrived a little late, sorting my son Riley’s breakfast and then waiting for family to vacate the bedroom/studio… I have completed most of my projects so will badger Graeme for something to do.

AM

I awake as I do every morning not really know what the day is, it’s all blended into one now…the usual quick look at the iPhone tells me it’s Thursday! Riley pops in, as he does all mornings, gives me a huge cuddle and then proceeds to tell me about a new function he’s found on his Kiddi-Zoom watch…he’s so pleased with himself. He then asks what he always asks “Daddy, what can I do?” I say to pop back to his bedroom to let mummy sleep a little bit. Today I’ve decided to do something a little different before breakfast… a jog or cycle ride… I hate jogging! Time to go…

…I’m back! 

OMG I’m soooooo unfit! Although I did play squash weekly before all this, that little run wasn’t easy and confirmed my thoughts… I hate jogging, but same again tomorrow! Riley joined me, riding his bike alongside me, in front of me and occasionally falling off behind me… shower and breakfast then the ifour morning briefing!

PM

We nip out to collect Fhei’s spice shop order (mmmm, lovely bits from the Philippines and Korea) and after a quick online purchase, we rush down to Argos to collect the little surprise we’d bought for Chloe and Riley (shhh). We rush home and I set up the surprise before the duo rush out and scream: “it’s a water slide!!” Their little faces are beaming – I get it going and in minutes they are both changed and hurling themselves down it with screams of delight. Perfect, I’d managed to distract them and bring a little joy at the same time, but… hadn’t thought about the noise… OMG Riley is loud… trying to concentrate not easy! Working on some social bits for Gray, noice little collection of animated gifs… shame though they have to be gifs and have such a small file size… could do some nice animations on these with a broader spec – oh well. Now I’m finished at 4:20pm… I fire them over for review from Gray and Jo on slack… then hear the door slowly creak open behind… it’s Riley and Chloe…”Daddy, what can I do?” they say… 

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Illustrated by Jimi

Friday - Léonie, Senior Strategist

Morning briefing 

Today’s tune was Paul McCartney and the Frog song. I usually smile-and-bob, but today I find myself lifted by the cheerful solidarity of the lyrics and sway along wildly. My bubble only slightly bursts when I see younger colleagues looking somewhat bemused.

AM

Today I have one client meeting in the middle of the day and our virtual Friday Fizz to look forward to in the afternoon. Nice. After what feels like a super productive (and quiet) hour and a half writing, I grab a quick cup of coffee and double check my notes to switch into the next project headspace before jumping onto my external call.

PM

Is anyone else intrigued by other people’s interiors on video calls? (Note to self: try very dark green for the sitting room walls.) We all join the call successfully, another small win. In the middle of very serious discussions, my aloof cat decides that RIGHT NOW he needs attention, head butts and a cuddle before staring at himself on screen… He raises a few smiles, but it’s still a very strange feeling, as work and home worlds collide in front of me.

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Illustrated by Léonie