Our company went into WFH mode around the last week of March. It’s been a challenge for us as a media company. And we had to get creative with this entire WFH phase because working remotely affects our output directly. Allow me to explain. We provide customised in-house radio stations for large MNCs in India (we call it Corporate Radio), in-store music services for retail outlets all over the country, we produce podcasts and audiobooks, and just a lot of audio content that goes on multiple platforms. The corporate radio stations we run also serve as internal communications tools in many organizations, so engaging with people beyond regular face-to-face conversations is our stock-in-trade.
Our work requires the RJs, other voice over guys, writers, producers, and sound engineers – essentially anyone who works in a creative role and feeds off real-time inputs – to meet regularly in the flesh. That personal connection is important.
For a few weeks now, thanks to Coronavirus, all of us around the world have had to recalibrate how we go about our work. Not meeting each other on a daily basis is a bummer. But we soldier on. That said, I do wonder about coincidences – how mystically the universe works and such.
A little backstory here. Timbre Media moved offices last year (way before Coronavirus was in the news), a few kms away from our earlier studios just off MG Road. Constructing multiple professional-standard recording studios take a fair bit of effort and time, so we had to tap into our resourcefulness, come up with creative solutions, embrace new technologies, and basically upskill ourselves. We also have a diverse team that handles life’s regular challenges with panache – from young mothers who balance tight schedules with dexterity to people caring for elderly family members, all while delivering on stiff deadlines. You know where this is going – those weeks we spent creatively tackling challenges would form the basis of the Timbre Media team’s innovative solutions for clients during this WFH phase we find ourselves facing. We’ve been there and know what it feels like to have reduced facetime with colleagues, and what it takes to overcome that.
I’m listing a few things that I find my colleagues are now doing differently, and effectively, to ensure their productivity remains high. (This is, by no means, professional advice I’d charge you for. Just something I see being effective in our daily routines. YMMV. )
One interesting development has been the effort to communicate and discuss every project on a daily basis. We have an online meeting every afternoon (on good ol’ Webex. Yes, there are as many “Hello, can you hear me?” as you’d expect.)
We also find ourselves making more efforts in our overall communication. For instance, response times to emails, messages, etc. If anything, WFH has led to more efforts at keeping people in the loop. Any error can compound quickly if people aren’t kept informed, so it has made us more proactive, I suppose. Ergo, things happen faster.
Which brings me to my next observation.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The guys at Timbre Media are no slouches. We’re quite innovative, creative, unique, and possess all the positive traits employees are asked to cultivate. But our planning has gotten pretty impressive since the lockdown, if I may say so myself. The team discusses projects threadbare every afternoon, so work moves rapidly, thanks to the daily accountability. To achieve this, I see many of us are planning our work more…I want to say efficiently, but practically would be more accurate. Stuff needs to get done, or you’ll get called out the next day. Or maybe we’re just reminded of our own mortality by the virus that’s keeping us indoors. Either way, I see this as one trait all of us will retain for good.
Ownership and initiative
The silver lining to WFH has been the ownership demonstrated, which I have found inspiring.
We’re cut off from each other for most of the day, so there’s little real-time feedback – the small things one notices and points out, which can often make a big difference – to work with. But I see people researching their work, reading up on cutting edge information, and presenting very creative solutions to problems that crop up. It almost feels like some quality me-time has been imposed, and they’re all off in their caves/safe spaces doing some very good thinking. And it’s not as if their environment is devoid of distractions. What I mean is, this isn’t the usual WFH, because everyone is at home. The spouse, the kids, the noise, even the neighbor’s loud TV. And yet, some of our work of late has been some of our best. Go figure.
These are some of the changes I’ve seen my colleagues make to stay on top of work during this Coronavirus lockdown. There is, of course, the added advantage of not wasting time commuting in Bangalore’s legendary traffic. Can’t put a price on that.