It was the 16th March 2020 when we called a meeting in the office and came to the conclusion to close and move operations homeward. We are lucky that, with the kit we need to work, we can pack up an office, move it, plug it into the internet and be up and running very quickly.
We said our goodbyes and ‘see ya on Teams’.
So how has it been?
Our MD, Carolyn, has a little boy fast approaching three and along with her partner are now halfway through 12 weeks of isolating after her son being identified as someone at risk of severe illness if he contracts the Coronavirus. Doug (Account Director) is step father to two young adults with greater needs than most and just finished major house renovations. Although Doug has been working mainly from home for a good while now, not being able to go out has no doubt had its moments. Louise (Graphic Designer and Social Media) has one teenager and another not far behind, husband and typically lively collie dog, Jack, to manage. Claire (Graphic & Digital Designer) has her family, including two young girls who, by the way have the amazing stealth ability to sneak on to video calls.
And then there is me, Dan. I’m also a Graphic Designer, plus IT tinkerer with the kit behind the scenes. Things for me differ from the others as I live alone and have done for some time. I thought this situation wouldn’t be too troublesome to deal with – this is my story so far.
Week one was a bit of a novelty and quite fun. We were busy and it was business as usual. I got the tunes cranked up on Tidal and, for quick communication with the team, WhatsApp desktop was installed. I made the brave decision to knock alcohol on the head for a week, as I don’t drink at home and my places of worship are closed. Realised I hadn’t worn any shoes.
Week two. Still very busy, but my office in the box bedroom was starting to do my head in – it was too cluttered and messy. That weekend I completely emptied it and started again, installing four beautifully-sounding Harman Kardon speakers and subwoofer, along with my purchase of the month, a floating three-monitor stand. I sent a picture to my girlfriend, who is isolating with her son, really proud of myself, only to get the reply – NERD, and the laughing face emoji. Realised I no longer wear a watch.
Week three. Still no alcohol. I must say, at this point, a big thank you to our clients, who have been brilliant. Everyone has stepped up to the mark and has adapted incredibly, which means we are still really busy. This is keeping me sane.
Video meetings with the work team and friends are entertaining. Watching one of my mates slowly getting more and more worse for wear, along with the quality of his conversation, was a new experience. Three of us put the world to rights as I drank water, another new experience. Went to the shop, which was strange, as some actual humans were in there. This was the first time in a while I had fully dressed or put any kind of thought as to what I was wearing.
Week four. Work has got really busy. Our clients’ needs have changed and, therefore, so does their artwork, online presence and ability to share resources remotely. We have been doing a lot of interactive PDF design work, which cuts down the need for paper-based media and, although it is a service we have been offering for years, it is something lots of companies don’t realise they can use to cover many of their internal processes. The back end of these documents is done in a very methodical way and I find them very therapeutic to work on. My car has done four weeks to the gallon.
Week five. Day 33 and sobriety comes to an end, after my friend, Ross, dropped an 18-pint polypin of ‘Bright Cask’ Enville Bitter on my doorstep. Proper beer, as you would get in the pub. That first pint, I can tell you, was a honey-tinged, hoppy trip to paradise. In case you didn’t know, bright beer does not keep too long. Do I need to continue this sentence? Thought not.
And as the weeks roll on. Don’t get me wrong, I like working from home, but it’s not all fun, listening to your favourite music and productivity. There have been the days when it has got on top of me. As I write this, I am on day 55 on my own. WhatsApping, Facetiming, battling the quite frankly appauling sound issues on Zoom, and forwarding disturbingly-true memes of Donald Trump are all well and good. But even this morning, the most trivial things got me to the point where I just wanted to write the day off. Then there was a cat in the garden and that cheered me up.
I don’t see our busy studio being back to normal for a good while yet, but we will continue to carry on and provide our clients with the service they are used to. That is what we do. I’m sure the others in the team will have some interesting stories to tell you in future weeks.
So, to conclude, just keep on keeping on. The pubs will open again soon.
Gravel Hill House
☎️ 01902 356280
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