Kitchen Table Stories: Tom Stables - 3manfactory

22 April 2020

In the first in a new series of blog posts from creative practitioners from across the disciplines, Tom Stables, Creative Director of 3manfactory and Chair of Digital Lancashire, gives an insight into how he and his team are adapting their work practice around the current conditions and coping during the lock-down.

Kitchen Table Stories: Tom Stables - 3manfactory

"These are unprecedented times and we need to be kind to ourselves, and others so that when we come out the other side of this we are all safe and sane."

"Like everyone across the UK, we’ve had a challenging few weeks here at 3manfactory, but as a team we intend to rise to them. We are continuing to help and support our clients, but looking after our own safety, mental health and wellbeing has become even more paramount, especially during the lockdown. 

Initially we focused on helping our clients prepare for and communicate their approach to dealing with the Coronavirus situation. However, we needed to ensure we were in a positive place to support this, so here is our own position in relation to tackling the ever challenging, and changing issues the Coronavirus pandemic has presented us with. 

On 18 March we set ourselves two objectives: 

  • Keep our team, our clients, and those we come into contact with safe, sane, and healthy
  • Ensure not only operational continuity for everything we are working on, but also that we are able to increase support for those that need it

We started by planning how we could successfully work remotely, but still work together as a team. We use a number of integrated online systems already enabling us to communicate, work and deliver client projects collaboratively.

However, we needed to make sure we were all comfortable working from home. Not everyone has a home office, so we made sure the team took the kit and equipment needed - monitors, chairs, stands, chargers. Importantly, we divvied up the snack draw, emptied the fridge and watered the office plants! 

In the weeks that have passed, we’ve found many of the steps we are taking bridge both objectives, and in fact, some are variations of practices already employed: 

  • Our team are now fully remote working. Our files, project management, proofing, operational, and financial systems are all cloud based, and we can even share some of these with clients to ensure proofing still takes place 
  • Guidance has been given not only on how to remote work effectively from a quality perspective but also from a psychological perspective – keeping a healthy mind is vital
  • All our team have phone, video call, and WhatsApp – so that communication with each other is easy to facilitate beyond email
  • Everyone is set up for screen sharing, and online collaboration tools so we are able to conduct both progress review meetings and creative planning sessions remotely
  • We are holding twice daily internal video call meetings – as much to talk about non-work issues as to discuss projects. We are trying to maintain some normality and keep an element of office chit chat throughout the day
  • The team are watching the daily briefings and news agenda so that we are up to speed with anything that might impact us, our clients or the industries they operate in
  • We have been sharing information around our comms approach, the news briefings, and tactics for responding to the coronavirus situation – and will continue to do so

We are considering setting up a group on WhatsApp or Facebook for us, our clients, and our contacts to share issues, best practices etc; and possibly another group for remote workers to talk about something other than work.

We’re also considering setting up a regular video call drop in session for people to ask questions about internal or external comms, remote working, anything that the team of incredible minds we have here at 3manfactory might be able to help with. If you’d appreciate being involved with either of these let us know.

The most important thing we have discovered, especially over the last week is, don’t be hard on yourself. Normal working hours do not necessarily apply, and for those juggling childcare, homeschooling or anything else, remember you are not working from home, you are at home, trying to work.

If you need to split the day up so that you spend time with immediate family, message friends, get some exercise or manage to order (or receive) your online deliveries then do. These are unprecedented times and we need to be kind to ourselves, and others so that when we come out the other side of this we are all safe and sane."

Tom Stables (April 2020)

Tom Stables, Creative Director of award-winning Preston marketing agency, 3manfactory, and Chair of Digital Lancashire, the voice of digital business for the county.

Look out for more features from those working across the spectrum of creative occupations over the forthcoming weeks including designers, artists, film makers and more to share tales and tips for how they are working and coping while we adapt to the conditions created by the Covid-19 crisis and consider readiness for times ahead.

If you want to share how you and those in your organisations or networks are navigating these unusual and unprecedented times please get in-touch:

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