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Behind the scenes of a new job in lockdown
26 June 2020 12:51pm
If starting a new job isn’t mentally exhausting enough, starting a new job whilst in a national lockdown adds a whole new meaning to ‘taking on a new challenge’. At Brave Spark, a creative production agency based in Moorgate, we’ve been fortunate to welcome to our team Harry Smith (Senior Producer), Rebecca Vickery (Business Director), Millie Graves (Account Executive) and Erin Alesbrook (Edit Assistant). It has been far from an average induction, especially in an agency fuelled by video production shoots globally, and we wanted to share their unique insights about starting a new job in lockdown.
What has been most surprising?
Harry: Despite the lockdown and the constantly changing landscape, the creative industry has continued to create and innovate. Having previously worked at Brave Spark, it has felt like an exciting time to rejoin the company and in a brand new role working with our agency partners at MSQ. I’ve been learning but so has everyone else. It was surprising how quickly the team adapted to remote working.
Rebecca: How quickly you can change your behaviours and habits when change is forced upon you. I’ve never been an advocate of working from home but surprisingly, it has allowed me to quickly find common ground with my new colleagues (a global pandemic makes that easier!). It’s also given me the chance to stress test existing processes and tools to assess what’s working and where there could be room for improvement.
Millie: Despite being able to work from anywhere, I never realised how much I would miss the Brave Spark office and my daily commute to work. Most of all I miss the buzz of walking through the city to work and people watching on the tube.
Erin: With makeshift workspaces and less conventional communication channels, I was surprised how the entire team has embraced and smoothly transitioned to being a remote workforce. We have been treating everyday as a learning experience as we’re all going through this together.
What has been your biggest learning?
Harry: We can always find a way to make first class work whatever the circumstance and that circumstance can inspire the work we create.
Rebecca: To remain positive and determined, focus your energy on what you can control. To truly be a creative problem solver, you need to question everything. Just because something has been done one way before, doesn’t mean it should be done the same way again. I’m grateful Brave Spark lives by this. We make every second count, focusing on transformational outcomes over one fixed way of working.
Millie: Embrace the distance. A little more head space and asking the right questions can help you better manage your workload and make more informed and well thought through decisions.
Erin: The value and importance of teamwork and my colleagues who make this achievable. Nothing is unachievable when you have a great team.
Are there any new skills you have learnt?
Harry: How to put a cool background on my Zoom calls! Also to completely digitalise myself as all my organisation takes place on my computer. Notes from calls, scheduling my day, creating my to-do list - my notebook is starting to gather dust.
Rebecca: Perhaps not a skill but a new learning experience has been pitching over Zoom. Adapting to this has meant more planning for the unpredictable, introducing reflection points in presentations and exploring new ways to present ideas. Whilst I suspect virtual pitching will live on post lockdown, a lack of nonverbal cues when ‘blind pitching’ will continue to be a struggle for agencies.
Millie: Time-boxing tasks allows me to focus on one task at a time and most importantly, is removing my temptation to respond to each instant message or email as soon as they land.
Erin: I still have a lot to learn but the past few months have challenged me to think and work differently. I’ve had to adapt to a whole new technical and creative workflow, expanding my skills and knowledge.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome these?
Harry: You lose those basic and very human, nonverbal cues that exist when talking to people face-to-face, especially when meeting new people. Ultimately, we have become more familiar with digital communication and humanised it to some extent. It’s going to be weird going back to a world where we have to make proper eye contact with people.
Rebecca: Keeping connected as a team and keeping each other's creative spirits high. Some of our most groundbreaking and heartwarming moments have happened on our Tuesday Tangent video calls. On one of these we challenged ourselves to spell out Brave Spark and on another coordinated a virtual Mexican wave. No matter the tangent we choose, these get-togethers keep us connected and smiling.
Millie: It proved difficult at first not being able to see or listen to others in person but asking for regular feedback from the team about my work has definitely helped me adapt. Everyone at work should be asking for more regular feedback because this is new to all of us, whether we are in a new job or not.
Erin: Elements of the post production process are difficult to maintain, especially when it comes to data storage and archiving work. We’re managing to overcome most of these challenges by continually communicating as a team and supporting each other to maintain an efficient and consistent workflow.
What are you doing with the time that you would usually spend commuting?
Harry: More exercise, more reading, ever so slightly broadening my cooking skills. Buying all the parts to build a bike without ever really building it.
Rebecca: I’m hooked on the podcast series ‘How I Built This’. It explores how entrepreneurs behind some of the most well known brands, from Dyson to Ben and Jerry’s, first started out. I’ve found it inspiring how they’ve all faced adversity on their journeys to success, just like we are all experiencing now.
Millie: A lot of walking, helping my dad with his allotment and a great amount of time I will never, ever get back spent using estate agent apps.
Erin: I’ve been trying to create a healthier lifestyle by cooking more, attempting a regular sleeping pattern and exploring a backlog of books and films I’ve been meaning to get round to.
How would you describe your lockdown induction in 3 words?
Harry: Wearing tracksuit bottoms.
Rebecca: Baptism of WFH.
Millie: Which Slack channel?
Erin: Shall we Zoom?
What advice would you give to anyone else starting a new job now?
Harry: A good attitude can be communicated through your computer.
Rebecca: Embrace it. See it as a unique learning experience to challenge your own personal limits, especially as you are part of a small group of people who will have the opportunity to do so.
Millie: Things may take longer and some tasks may seem harder but take your time and find a way that works for you. While we are all experiencing this together, nobody's experience is the same.
Erin: See this as an opportunity to learn a new skill, challenge yourself to think differently and enjoy the extra lie-ins.