Our latest series, the ifour Lockdown Chronicles, offers a sneak-peek into the realities of working from home during the COVID-19 crisis. From fence weaving and virtual pub quizzes to makeshift noticeboards, we’re lifting the lid on the ‘new not-so-normal’ for the ifour team.
Monday - Jo, Project Delivery Manager
Having the morning briefing really helps me focus and plan for the day ahead as I have to speak to the team about what deliverables we have for the day. As an ardent list maker (old school: still on paper rather than electronically), I relish creating not one but two lists – work for the team and my own to-do list. I’ve got a notice board (made from brown paper, post-it notes and a lot of blutak!) on the wall in front of my desk. The two lists go up on here along with important reminders and motivational quotes to help me have a successful day.
I was hoping I’d get to take things easy during lockdown, but no such luck for me…working hard to get three separate video projects completed by the end of this month, and setting up new project work coming in, means I am just as busy as normal. I reflect that actually this is a good thing as it makes the days go just as quick and all the interaction with the different people involved means I get to have regular conversations with others, not just with my partner and the dog!
Due to the lovely weather, I am able to have my lunch in the garden and enjoy sitting in the sunshine, so it takes a little while for me to get back into the groove of the afternoon’s workload when I get back to my desk. More phone calls, more answering emails, more project planning and slowly the tasks on my to-do list are crossed off. Then before I know it it is 5:30pm and time to finish. I know this without even checking my watch as the dog has appeared for his evening walk. I close the laptop and go off to enjoy the tranquillity of the bluebell filled woods nearby.
Tuesday - Chris, Senior Designer
Getting ready for our group call means making sure my new office (bedroom) is tidy… no underwear or dirty clothes on show, and that my two girls Olive and Wren have been told not to interrupt daddy, unless it’s to drop off my morning smoothie.
Today I am working on the new ifour website. Before lockdown we worked on this in fits and starts, as we do with most internal projects – client work obviously comes first – but right now, getting ifour fit and ready for what challenges lie ahead is super important. So, on with my headphones as I get down to it.
Fence weaving, a little different from website design but creative nonetheless, is my task for the afternoon. Our daughter’s school homework had set this particular challenge, so we duly accepted and spent an afternoon in the garden weaving pieces of willow and bamboo together. Or at least, we tried. At first, we found that as we tried to maneuver them, the pieces snapped. This happened over and over again. After much trial and error, we managed to get the hang of it, and it proved to be quite therapeutic! Once the fence was finished we kept going to create a full-on ‘Bear Grylls’ style Bushcraft area, complete with mud kitchen and bug hotel. It’s strange how this enforced lockdown is asking us all to be more creative, both in how we entertain ourselves and the ways we approach things; at work, we’re finding new and inventive ways to solve our clients’ problems, and at home, we’re getting stuck into activities we’d never normally do – like spending hours turning a pile of bamboo into an outdoor kitchen. With the day’s bushcraft complete, we sat back aching but satisfied at what we had achieved. As ‘Bear’ would say, ‘Survival’ can be summed up in three words – never give up.
Wednesday - Graeme, Creative Director
I love getting to nose (I mean know) my colleagues. Getting a glimpse into their lives, checking out the dodgy artwork on the wall and sometimes even seeing things you’d rather not. Alice seems to change room every morning and I swear one day she was in the loo, seeing just the top of Damon’s shiny head as he positioned his laptop badly, Dave being attacked by fifteen dogs and then seeing what jumper Jess is wearing, she has a different one for each day of the year.
My new daily routine feels like I have changed career and have become a TV presenter as my face is constantly being broadcasted around the world, little do they know that most of the time I’m chatting to them in my pants (I guess now they will know). This chronicle is supposed to be about a specific day but as Rob Beckett would say ‘every day’s the same’ and if you’ve not seen his social posts then you should click here.
My mornings start with a video call, followed by a video call, which is then followed by another video call and why not, let’s chuck another call in for fun. Although I do get great pleasure playing ‘video call bingo’ and earn points by:
- Seeing embarrassing reflections in peoples glasses (50 points)
- People asking if you can hear them (5 points)
- People who forget when they are on mute (10 points)
- Asking to wave if you can hear them (10 points)
- Picking nose, burping or passing wind (25 points)
Generally a repeat of the AM but with the added stress of my daughter begging me to play with her and giving me those puppy dog eyes. But my day doesn’t finish at a normal time, oh no, the work I was meant to be doing all day instead of calls is still waiting to be done.
Thursday - James, Interactive Designer
It’s 4am. For some reason I am completely wide awake and definitely not by choice. Since all of this lockdown stuff began my schedule has been thrown completely off balance and sleeping at night has become a real pain. With the few hours I have spare before the birds start chirping outside my window, I decide to make myself a coffee with honey (I saw it on american TV) and sit back to binge various Louis Theroux documentaries on Netflix.
Time flew by and after three documentaries, various YouTube videos, a shower and breakfast, I looked outside and saw that it was a bright and sunny day. Before I could enjoy the sunshine, however, my alarm blared, signalling it’s time for our team morning briefing. We have a song of the day played every meeting to pep us all up – but as a man of only 23, it seems that most of these songs just fly right by my age range.
After the meeting I tap my keyboard a bit and move my mouse sometimes and then boom, it’s lunch! Today I decided to use my lunch break to take outside my three year old Tortoise Ori (or Mr Tortoise Man, either works). It’s amazing weather and I sit down on the grass with Mr Tortoise Man as he runs around and basks in the sun. I listen to Start With Why by Simon Sinek in my earphones. Despite what Looney Tunes and other cartoons suggest, tortoises can actually be rapid when they want to be and so to keep track of the little guy, I balanced a Dandelion on the back of his shell and watched as the dandelion maneuvered its way around me.
After some time, my lunch finished and I returned to sitting in my 2002 office chair and tapped my keyboard a bit until we hit the magic number, half past 5. Boom! I was now free to continue sitting in my chair and tapping my keyboard… a slightly awkward realisation.
That evening was the weekly pub quiz that my friends do on Discord. Each week a new person sets up a quiz and we all have a laugh seeing who knows how long it took to build the pyramid of Giza, or what the super continent before continental drift was called. (Those were questions I knew the answers to!) Like every week I come dead in the middle or second from last and I ceremoniously blame the wine as my score is read aloud – with that everyone mockingly yells back, “It’s always the wine!”
It is days like this which makes me realize how lucky I am to be in this position and how all of this could be a lot worse, which just goes to show how just a little positivity can turn a blandish groundhog-day-esque situation into a new adventure every day. Keep your chin up everyone!
Friday - Melissa, Internal Marketing Manager
Open my eyes to discover that husband is no longer beside me as he’s got up early once again to crack on with work projects before the favourite child wakes. I have no idea what day it is.
I’m grateful for the extra shut eye as my body seems to be requiring a ton of sleep at the moment. Perhaps it’s all the PICKING UP I’m doing!!! Why does it feel like all of the stuff accumulating in our household is either on the floor or on the stairs?
Today is a typical lockdown day: I try and encourage the child to do some set schoolwork but mainly end up helping her in a creative endeavor as it seems that’s the thing that’s really floating her boat at the moment. Whether it’s making a clay model of the worm from Labyrinth (‘I said ello but that’s close enough’), a watercolour painting, or some junk modelling out of the endless recycling we seem to be keeping for such occasions. At least I get to be creative too – any evening downtime I get is currently being spent doing calming colouring in (you have to try it!) or attempting to make a face mask on the sewing machine.
Try to persuade darling child to watch a film or occupy herself for a bit (mummy needs to do some housework or ifour marketing!). I seem to spend a lot of the day shielding Graeme from verbal interruption as he has to be on a lot of calls. Notes still get slipped under the home office door with replies expected.
Thank the Lord for digital play dates (both child and adult lol) as they have helped us all to adjust to not seeing our friends. School assemblies and cub gatherings have all gone virtual now. Talking of cub activities, it seems I have to camp outdoors tonight as part of a nationwide record attempt. Oh the joy. I am not a camper. The plan is to camp in the garden as long as the wind and rain allows but the ‘campfire’ will be indoors and the s’mores will have to be made in the oven. Oh well, at least the calories will keep me going. #day1457