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Reshaping the everyday

Things have been a bit different recently. But it's provided us all with the chance to reset, rethink and reshape the way we work.

16th July 2020

Mark Easby

Mark Easby

Mark Easby

Written by Mark Easby,
Managing Director

It’s fair to say the past few months have changed the way we work, live and even think about the world. Things that were previously second nature now seem like a distant memory.

But despite those changes being tough for both businesses and people, it’s provided us all with a unique opportunity to reset, rethink and reshape the everyday.

Putting people first

Despite social distancing and government guidelines, the pandemic has ironically brought us closer together. These are choppy new waters, but we’re all in the same boat. That sense of digging in when the going gets tough has helped us ride the waves and avoid the icebergs.

Communication has always been at the centre of everything we do, and during the pandemic that’s been more important than ever. Although we were already using Slack for internal communications, we realised we were going to have much more reliance on tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangouts. They’ve not only helped us meet up with clients, but they’ve also been key to keeping the team connected, spirits high, and continuing our work as normally as possible.

And while it’s difficult to recreate that spontaneous and collective creativity you find when sitting down and getting your heads together, we’re pretty proud of ourselves – we’ve still been hitting our usual high standard of ideas, strategic thinking, and remarkable work; albeit from virtual meeting rooms and the comfort of our homes.

Getting used to the ‘new normal’

For each and everyone of us, working from home means something different. At Better, we’re home to a variety of different circumstances, with some of us living alone and others with partners and families. Our Creative Director, John, and his wife Jenna even became parents for the second time with the arrival of Sage August Taylor. Talk about picking your time!

“Lockdown has seen me experience the full range of emotions; from the joy of meeting our newborn through to the stresses of childbirth during a pandemic, juggling our new family life and managing working from home.

“Normally, the two weeks of paternity would be some welcome downtime to spend at home in a family bubble, but after being locked down in the house for 12 weeks the novelty had firmly worn off.

“I’ve really missed the separation of work, home and personal time. Now with the studio starting to open up, I’m now finding the balance of family time and studio life, meaning I can separate supporting and managing the creative team from changing nappies and bedtime stories.”

The Better Studio

In contrast lockdown came as Web Developer, Nathan, had just moved into his first home: “I didn’t really enjoy it at first as I was by myself and couldn’t talk to anybody face to face. But after a month or so I kind of got used to working from home and now I’m starting to like it.

“The morning virtual huddles work great as it’s a chance to catch up with everyone and go through what you’re working on that day.

“I also like the fact that I’m not driving to and from work every day which means a bit more of a lie-in!”

The undoubted benefit of this new way of working has been more time spent with family, and simply the chance to take things slower. The pressure and stress of commuting has disappeared over night, and with less distractions and a little more peace and quiet, setting time aside for a proper lunch break is also easier.

While the lines blurring between work and home bring obvious advantages, there are challenges to be aware of. Switching off can be difficult, many actually find themselves working longer hours than if they were ‘in-office’. There’s also your physical and mental wellbeing to look after too. Making sure you have a suitable and safe office setup is a big part of that, as is getting into good routines, taking breaks and remaining active.

Business as usual

Just like many businesses, with 100% of us working from home for the first time ever, it was a step into the unknown.

There’s less emphasis on your location or HQ, but instead purely on your process, people and quality of work. Just as it should be.

Questions were asked around scheduling, productivity and of course creativity. Even just the everyday things like picking up enquiries and chasing up leads had to be approached differently.

In reality, we’ve coped pretty well. We’ve continued working with our clients across the UK, including progressing some major regional projects and even landed our first international client. In a strange way, it’s somewhat levelled the playing field for brand agencies and businesses in the digital sector.

And while the studio team remains as creative as ever, and client services continue with minimal disruption, the ‘new normal’ is working just fine. In fact, it’s amazing how quickly the ‘new normal’ becomes the everyday. It feels like it was only two minutes ago that our Client Services Director, Paul, favourite word became ‘unprecedented’ as he provided daily commentary on the ever-changing situation.

With networking, client meetings and new business pitches all happening online, we’re also travelling much less around the country than usual. For us and many businesses, this means we’re dramatically reducing our footprint which helps drive our increasing commitment to environmental sustainability.

The Better studio

Looking to the future

Although we don’t have our plans finalised yet, what we do know is that we need to find a solution that balances the health and safety of our team, without compromising that unique creative studio environment. Throw in our own personalities and characters too — both of which hugely affect how we best create and work — and you’re left with a delicate balance that needs to be struck.

Our MD, Mark, said: “We’ll be taking a more flexible approach that sees much more emphasis on remote working alongside our revamped base for ‘in-studio’ working for the benefits of the team and in the event of any future lockdown or restrictions.

“One thing’s for certain, through the lessons we’ve learnt, we’ll be smarter, leaner and have a much more agile approach to working that will take us beyond the current circumstances.”

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