Blog post
April 7, 2020

Isentia Conversations with Bec Brown from The Comms Department

In the second of our Isentia Conversations: Communicating through Change webinar series, we chat to Bec Brown from The Comms Department about working from home during this time. We also chat to Isentia’s ANZ Head of Insights, Ngaire Crawford about the traditional and social media conversations around the largest working from home experiment.

Below you can find the key takeaways from the webinar:

Working from home with Ngaire Crawford at Isentia

4:00 – Isentia’s Ngaire Crawford explains there are some common problems when working from home and it’s important to be aware of the issues team members might face. 

Below are the main conversations from mainstream media:

  1. Productivity while working from home and understanding how to mitigate risk when working from home.
  2. Managing teams virtually
  3. Accessing information remotely
  4. Data security risks – tips and advice on how to manage your teams, and data security. Zoom has been mentioned a significant number of times with the security of the platform in question. Houseparty has also been a popular networking app during this time.
  5. Supporting Technologydo we have everything we need to effectively work from home?

Meantime, on social media, people are sharing tips, jokes and memes about trying to work from home in a full house.

6:10 – According to Google trends, Australians and New Zealanders are searching online for working from home memes to share humorous situations with each other.

7:08 – Interestingly, in South East Asia, the internet and good connectivity is seen as a basic human right, the same way we view food and electricity, the internet should be seen the same.

7:58 – In amongst the coverage and sharing of memes, discussions and mentions of COVID-19 and associated topics (self-isolation etc) have helped to drive a 400% increase in mentions of mental health. Discussions around anxiety have also doubled across Australia and New Zealand from February to March 2020.

9:11 – There is a definite importance to listening at the moment. Context should be provided as people are consuming more news and social media than ever before. Everyone is struggling to juggle their personal hats as well as their work hats.

9:20 – As a communicator, it’s important to audit the bubble of information you’re consuming. Understand the bias you’re consuming and look at other sources you may need to access to get a different point of view.  It’s important to understand the issues and challenges your clients and stakeholders may be facing and to have a general view of the conversations happening around the world.

10:05 – Think about your audiences, read the room, look at how others are communicating. Look at what has been successful as well as the criticisms. Be careful in how you evaluate success in this context and the necessity of your communication.

10:55 – Now is not the time to be doing a splashy campaign, or big broad media communications, as we don’t always default to best practice in times of stress. 

However, it might be the right time to do one piece of media communication really well to the right audience.

Working from home with Bec Brown from The Comms Department

11:48 – We are going through very unusual times and even though working from home and working remotely has been the norm for The Comms Department for the past eight years, there have been many learnings along the way.

13:38 – Although Bec and her team have always been close, the current circumstances have brought the team closer together and have improved relationships with their clients, with the media and with their business partners.

14:11 – Bec shares four tips that are applicable for any working at home situation. These four areas are interconnected and flow together.


Manage your productivity

  • Ensure your workspace is set up properly. Set it up as if you were at work.If you had two screens at work, try and replicate the same set up at home. Make your workspace a place where you can efficiently work, don’t let it be in multiple places within your home or let it overrun your household.  
  • Make sure there is structure in your day. Set a start time and end time to your day and lock in touch points to exercise, grab a coffee and eat. Eating lunch away from your desk is also helpful to clear the mind before you sit back down to work.
  • Make sure you work during work hours and limit personal tasks or chores as much as possible otherwise your work life will go into your personal time.

These small tweaks can be included in your day to ensure you are as productive as possible.


Manage how you communicate

  • Use video calls instead of phone calls where possible. This helps with staying connected and also helps prevent misreading tone. 
  • Decide with your team the best way to check-in. This could be via Slack, Microsoft Teams, text message or even communicating through memes.  
  • Make mute your best friend when on video calls, and keep your calls social and collaborative. 
  • If your job involves brainstorming sessions, continue to do these using virtual functions such as jam boards or murals to achieve the same outcome – it’s still possible to connect and be creative.
  • If there are others working at home with you, use visual cues to let others know when not to bother you. Everybody needs to adopt empathy to get through this challenging time. 


 Manage teamwork

  • Check-in with your teams, yet have trust they are working. It will be obvious if they aren’t doing their job as the work won’t be done.
  • In a time like this, people are going the extra mile, putting in the extra work when required as opposed to slacking off. 
  • We need to have tolerance for people, support one another and check-in with each other.  
  • Ask your team and your colleagues if they are okay and if there is anything they want to talk about. 


Manage your mental health 

  • Do whatever you need to do to keep your mental health at its peak. 
  • Connect with others. 
  • Eat fresh and healthy nutritious food, exercise and make sure you get enough sleep. 
  • Go easy on alcohol at night – it’s a depressive, and probably not the best thing to over-consume as it can mess with productivity and motivation.
  • Following these key areas as well as showing as much empathy as possible during this time will ensure you’re on the right track and a winning outcome.

If you would like to view other Webinar Isentia Conversations: Communicating through Change:

Isentia Conversations: with Katherine Newton from RU OK? 

Isentia Conversations: with Rochelle Courtenay from Share the Dignity

Isentia Conversations: with Rachel Clements at Centre for Corporate Health

Isentia Conversations: with Helen McMurdo at MTV


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