How do you run a business while working from home? We speak to supplier Actavo Events to find out.
Working from home presents its own series of challenges, which the world is currently getting to grips with. How do you present yourself in important video calls? How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance? Is it worth putting on proper trousers? (Hint: yes.)
Actavo Events, which supplies staging, rigging, barriers and seating for outdoor events, finds itself in the same position all of us do. The company has had to adapt to this new way of working the best it can, keeping team spirit high and business on a simmer.
With all events in the pipeline cancelled or postponed, the team has pared back as much as possible. Emily Kenward, UK Operations Manager, says: “Our site-based team are limited as to what they can be doing, so we are taking advantage of the government scheme like many other companies and furloughing these guys. Our back of house team – office staff and project managers – can do everything we’d normally do from home, in terms of project planning and administration. This allows us to keep the team together for when the industry does bounce back.”
Staff who are not able to work on site are still keeping themselves busy. Kenward says that Actavo is encouraging the team to use downtime as an opportunity to complete online training courses and pick up new skills. “We are encouraging the team to take the time to do some training that they may have always been interested in, but haven’t had the time for in the busy schedule we’re used to in live events. This can be a topic for work, or outside of work for their personal development.”
Training courses and webinars have exploded in popularity since the lockdown was put in place. They are a good way for eventprofs to keep themselves busy during a period that often doesn’t allow much time for reflection and self-improvement. Access publishes a weekly list of the various training courses and webinars from around the industry on our website, so keep your eyes peeled.
What about keeping sane, sociable and motivated? Kenward says that company-wide Zoom calls are keeping everyone in contact, and providing a bit of comic relief: “We are doing a team lunch on Zoom each week, which is unrelated to work topics, but allows the team to stay in touch – seeing and talking to each other. [Office Manager] Sol has livened things up by introducing some simple team competitions – such as finding a photo of our favourite views and using it as our background!”
There is some solace to be taken from the fact that the whole industry is in the same boat, too. Project Manager Simon Holliman says: “I’m finding calls to clients are not as rushed, it’s an easier conversation as you can talk about things that perhaps you wouldn’t and people are glad of the call. I can see us building some stronger relationships out of this.”
Still, there are plenty of challenges. Kenward says that the team’s Project Manager in Scotland is finding it hard to get pricing from Actavo’s supply chain. The uncertainty in the economy, and when things will return, makes costing up future projects more difficult.
All of these unknowns are making life difficult for companies across the industry, not just Actavo. But this only makes it more important than ever that eventprofs keep learning, keep in contact, and keep one eye on the future for when we can leap back into action.
Mental health in quarantine
How do you look after your mental health in lockdown? Members of the Actavo team weigh in with their thoughts on quarantine wellbeing.
Denis Diggin, Managing Director – Keep to a routine: getting up, getting dressed, sticking to meal times and making the most of our one daily piece of exercise. I am a big fan of starting early and getting out to the gym for half an hour at lunchtime when I can. Obviously the gym is off the cards at the moment, but I am still up at the crack of dawn and taking my daily walk at lunchtime.
Sol Hernandez, Office Manager – “I have become closer to my family in Spain than we have ever been since I moved to the UK. Regardless of the distance, we have a call everyday around 6:30 (before clapping time in Spain – they do it every day there!) just to have jokes, see each other on video, cheer everyone up. We also get to see the baby of the family who is growing faster and faster! Before this we could spend weeks without talking with each other, and now we don’t spend a day without seeing each other, even if it is through a screen.”
Emily Kenward, UK Operations Manager – I’m speaking to my family and friends more than ever and I’m trying to take the positive view that when we all come out of this that everyone will appreciate each other more. The face to face contact will be more meaningful and maybe we will make more time for it and be in the moment when there, leaving the mobile phones in our bags or pockets!