Our latest series, the ifour Lockdown Chronicles, offers a sneak-peek into the realities of working from home during the COVID-19 crisis. From DIY haircuts and wildlife rescues to remote client calls and radio appearances, we’re lifting the lid on the ‘new not-so-normal’ for the ifour team.
Monday - Dave, Simon’s Little Helper (Web Developer)
Not 2 seconds into starting our morning brief and Octavia, the neediest cocker spaniel ever, is jumping up on my lap and saying high to everyone. Finally, she says her goodbyes, hops off my lap and the briefing can start.
It’s a struggle this morning, it’s one thing isolating at home away from friends and family, but to then shut yourself in a home study to try and avoid distractions (yes I’m talking about that spaniel again) takes things to a new level. After the second cup of coffee goes down, I pick myself up and crack on.
Lunch, walk around the garden with the dogs, more coffee and I’m back at it! Come about 4pm though and the coffee isn’t doing it for me anymore… time for the cider. Turns out starting the cider that early, having an extremely bored partner, and conveniently having a pair of clippers laying around results in the loss of hair. Not all of it mind you, I now have lovely mohawk!
Tuesday - Alice, Senior Content Strategist
I like to move my desk about. My latest spot is in our newly-painted spare room. I thought the crisp walls would make a professional backdrop, but the team just said it looks like I’m sitting on the toilet. Right. Perhaps it’s time to try the kitchen again.
This morning I saved a bee. As I stepped outside to bask in the sunshine, the bubbling of the kettle faded into morning birdsong. Eyes closed, soaking up the sun, I heard an angry buzz. The bee was tangled in a thick, sticky cobweb. With each frantic movement, the doomed thing further entangled itself. Spying an escape, I helped the bee crawl onto an awaiting leaf, where, dusting itself down in disgust, it passed a weary leg over each eye. Then, shaking out its wings, the bee took to the air and was gone. The bee saved, the kettle cooling inside; the drama was over. ‘Well, that was nice. Best get back to work’ I mused, clambering up to make two coffees.
The afternoon has been dedicated to a new proposal. The glimmer of a fresh brief has pepped me right up. The prospect is exciting not simply because of the work itself. Do you remember, back at school, heel-to-toe walking along an upturned wooden bench during PE? Instinct told us to look down, concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other. I don’t know about you, but our teacher told us to keep our chin up, seek something in front to pinpoint, and focus on that. There’s something about training ourselves to look forward. For all the articles and advice about taking each day as it comes, I think maybe we should try to look for the good things that are to come.
Wednesday - Simon, Head of Breaking Things (Development)
The normal early start at 6am to let Dude the English Springer Spaniel puppy out and entertain him before his short early-morning walk. This calms him down sufficiently to let me get on with 30 minutes or so of work before the girls come downstairs with their breakfast demands.
Them: “Can I have Coco Pops?”
Me: “No, it’s not the weekend.”
Ready in time for the morning briefing call, which is always such a joy! Did miss Graeme’s morning song, so someone will need to fill me in on that one!
Caught up with Dave and his new dodgy haircut to run through where we are on a couple of development tasks and planned out the rest of the day. It’s the mother-out-laws birthday today so the girls are colouring a banner to hold up when they go and drop off her card, present and the weekly shopping items! So pleased I’ve got decent noise cancelling headphones to block them out whilst they’re creating their masterpiece!
Big scary client call in the afternoon so I head off and take refuge in the playroom only to be interrupted mid-call by a whining six year old who’s Playmobil windmill and treehouse are WAY more important than me talking to a large global corporation. Switch off camera, mute, leg it upstairs to the bedroom and carry on as if nothing happened. Follow that with attempting to get some project work done, it’s tricky through the day with two parents juggling full time work and two children threatening to kill each other over which episode of Sis vs Bro they want to watch on YouTube, but hey ho. The others eventually head out to take Dude for a wander around the country park. We’re so lucky to have 70 acres of open space with 3km of paths right on the doorstep and the lockdown weather has been amazing so far.
They’re out, so it’s dinner duties for me, a spin on Mac’n’cheese. Thankfully it’s pretty easy to cook with one hand as Graeme calls slap bang in the middle of it to talk through a proposal. Timing is everything Gray… 😉 With that done the girls and Dude settle down and it’s an opportunity to crack through another couple of hours of work before sitting down with a beer to work out what to watch from the seeming unique category Netflix has generated for us – UK procedural crime dramas. Sleep and repeat….
Thursday - Claire, Operations Manager
Feeling a little nervous this morning as I’m booked on to the radio waves at 11.30 to discuss photography… WHAT?! I am no expert in this field ????and I find out I’m sharing the slot with the Countryfile Wildlife photographer Richard Taylor-Jones, out-of-depth springs to mind!
I’ve usually managed a few miles under my belt by this time but today is all about staying calm. The morning briefing starts with the usual perky song from Graeme aka The Boss, and bubbly morning greetings with the team, a daily opportunity to discuss client projects and set everyone up for the day ahead.
My day kicks off with the usual project management housekeeping i.e. checking tasks are in date, client deliverables for the day, assigning future projects etc. but the main thing on my mind today is the radio show, eek! I’ll set the scene on how and why this is happening: since WFH and lockdown I have maintained a fairly strict exercise schedule of getting out amongst nature early morning, whilst doing this I have been sharing photos on social media to spread the joy of Spring, and provide people that aren’t so lucky to have nature on their doorstep with the opportunity to see how the season of positivity is springing to life. This has resulted in being invited to BBC Radio Kent to talk about why I am doing this and the effect it’s having on my online followers (there’s a recording of the interview on ifour’s social media).
After the unusual morning it’s time to get stuck into my emails and ensure projects are being worked on and delivered as agreed. It amazes me how well the whole team has adapted to this new working environment and Slack is an absolute god-send in keeping everyone connected and engaged. It’s important to take regular breaks so I tend to go and check on the cats to see if they have moved from their sleeping positions, the answer is always ‘no’ – I never realised they slept so much… isn’t it koalas that are meant to sleep for 18 hours a day? Well, Betsy and Boo do too! I also have a trip up the garden to see if anything has grown since my last trip, a mere hour or so ago. Nope, nothing changed but I do spot a bit of weeding that needs seeing too. As the day draws to a close I change out of my many layers and hobo style of dress to make myself a little more respectable for when the husband arrives, I feel that standards must be maintained despite not being able to go anywhere!
Friday - Steve, Illustrator
So, I awake to my alarm going off at 7.45am. One good part of this isolation thingy… getting a lie-in every morning, as opposed to the normal stupid-o’clock that I’d be up and out to get to the office. Get myself sorted, get the kids downstairs, give ‘em a quick telling off for waking us up throughout the night, get ‘em fed, watered, and shoved in front of the telly until Mrs C comes down to start their daily dose of Joe Wicks’ exercise and ‘home schooling’… that’s my part done for now! Coffee made, I’m ready for another day of doodling! What day is it though? Ah-ha… Friday! I only know this because of one thing – my girls’ excitement after last night’s weekly doorstep applause for our AMAZING NHS and everybody else out there, doing what’s needed to keep us all going and safe… thank you all… you’re bleed’n LEGENDS!!!
Oh… and of course our daily morning briefing. A little taste of office life all bundled into a 45-minute video call with our booootiful team sitting in a variety of improvised ‘offices’ – a bedroom, kitchen, lounge, dining room, and when it comes to Graeme (the Guv’nor), his ‘Home Office’… bloomin’ SNOB!
Morning briefing done, daily dose of ‘feel good music’ played by said Guv’nor to keep the troops uplifted and ready to go, we’re all set for the day ahead. Pretty much, the same as yesterday… and the day before that… and the day before that… and the… yeah, you get my drift! Settle myself down for some creative crayoning on my oversized-ipad, only to be constantly badgered by my daughters (4 and 6… that’s their ages, not their names), “What you doing Daddy?”, “Can I have a go?”, “I’m huuuuungry!”…aaaaarrrrgh!!!!! Shout upstairs to hurry the wife up. I reckon she fell back to sleep… cheeky! 5 minutes later, kids safely tied to the sofa, mouths taped shut with sellotape (or any other brand found at all good stores)… I’m back at my Mac and ready to go!
All is going well until Roxy, our Staffy, decides she’s fed up with sitting nicely and wants to bug the hell out’ve me for some TLC. Trying to draw whilst leaning down to scratch the woofer’s ear, had me sitting like Quazimodo in a Smart Car, back aching (I’m getting old) and finding myself drawing everything at a 45o° angle! Once everything is settled, kids are occupied, dog’s in an ear-scratch-contented slumber, I manage to get my head down and get a good few hours scribbling done! I’m lucky, my job gives me a large variety of things to do, more than can be said for my daily life at the mo! (Note to self, stop moaning: we’re healthy and fed… and still have loo roll!) A bite to eat for lunch, made by the culinary skills of my gorgeous wife (ham and mustard sarnie), and carry on with much of the same for the rest of the day……….. hhhhmmm? I wonder what tomorrow will bring? Stay safe all, count your blessings, love your loved ones, use your loo roll wisely, wash your hands….. And stay the heck at home! Laters! Xx