Hybrid at the office and at home: Navigating a global crisis
July 08, 2020

Hybrid Media is spread over three continents, from Bristol, to Kuala Lumpur, all the way down to Sydney. We’re used to being able to get on planes to see each other, pop in to see what new plants have appeared on desks and bask in the beauty that is the UK office (oh, you haven’t seen it? Here!). 

In mid-March, everyone’s world was thrown for a loop. Borders shut. Buildings were left empty, and every single Hybrid employee was sent to work from home for what was an undetermined amount of time. Internet bandwidths were put to the test, elasticated everything was worn and we all got very familiar with each other’s walls. Yes, coworkers — you were right to observe that this employee still had Christmas decorations up three months after the fact. 

Here we are in July, and things are slowly going back to the way they were. Kind of. 

Our Sydney office is back in the building, distanced and enjoying the relative ghosttown that is the CBD. In our Bristol office, we’re experimenting with having some of the team back, while others continue to work from home. Here in KL, where you’ll find some of our editorial, design and digital team members, it’s the same ol, same ol — we’ll continue to work from our respective casas and keep on Zooming.

Here’s what four of our team members, spread across the world and working in different ways, have to say about the last few months and what to look forward to for the second half of probably the most surreal year of our respective lives.

Emma, Account Management, Sydney

Emma, Account Management, Sydney:

Hey Emma! How’s the office? Is it true that downtown Sydney is empty? 

Sydney CBD is empty, yes! Although starting to pick up this morning after our public holiday yesterday. Our team starts early in the morning at 7am and so we miss most of the rush hour traffic anyway which has been good as there are only 12 people allowed on a bus at a time! Once we get inside our office it’s business as usual though 🙂 we only upgraded into our new space in February so we were all keen to get back and use our brand new office! 

What was it like working from home for so long? Did you miss the coworker camaraderie? 

I really did — it’s not the same working from home with your partner. We have a 1 bedroom apartment and were both working from the living room and so when we were both on calls, it was hard to concentrate! It was nice to be able to have lunch together but I missed seeing our team and knowing how everyone was getting on. Zoom just doesn’t replace it!

Do you have pets and are they wondering where you’ve gone? 

I don’t have any pets unfortunately 🙁 I was tempted to foster a dog during lockdown but I think I would have found it too distracting while trying to work! 

What are you guys cooking up for the rest of 2020? Give us the hits.

We have a small but focused team and so we’re 100% back at it with more concentration on helping our clients overcome the variety of challenges they’re facing. We have product lines that can help them target domestic audiences, webinar registrations, virtual open days and campus tours for the Universities – all of these can reach a lot more people at this stage as everyone is at home and online! We have had to be pretty flexible in our approaches in the last 10 weeks with clients requesting messaging changes/target parameter changes to pivot based on the situation, so it’s been a really fast paced and agile environment which will definitely continue!  

Max, Creative, Bristol

Max, Creative, Bristol:

Hey, hey Max. Describe trying to coordinate the redesign of our Study International website across three continents and dozens of hours between us.

Ha. I think my first thought and the timing of lockdown was — of course — oh sh*t! But given the international structure of our teams, a remote way of working and collaborating is something that we’re used to. The challenge with SI is to make full use of our teams at the right times, understanding a diversity of user journeys that go on within the platform and designing it in a way that intelligently deals with all those needs.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is your wifi at home?

Some days it’s a 9, others a 2. That’s my favourite challenge with the wifi — total unpredictability. 

From a Creative Director, would you be able to advise on what makes a good Zoom call background? 

Relevance. Whether it’s someone’s birthday, a company quiz or Trump’s latest gaff — it’s your opportunity to throw a curveball into any agenda someone might have had planned. 

Kane, Sales, Bristol

Kane, Sales, Bristol:

Hello! How’s it back at the office? Is it as beautiful as you left it? 

Absolutely. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been stuck inside for so long, but if anything the office seems even nicer than before! As we adhere to social distancing rules we’ve actually got more space too, which is nice for people like me who struggle to stand still.

It’s a homely space (except my home doesn’t come with a bar!) and it helps foster a professional but comfortable environment. I’m glad to be back for sure.

Any of the plants die? 

I don’t think we had any plants before lockdown, but it looks like the place has been very well looked after. 

Now we’re back, it’s definitely time to get some nice foliage in! A few succulents are the only thing really missing from my desk now.

What’s the best part about being back? 

The team. Collaborative working is integral to everything we do here, so I’m really glad to be able to speak immediately to colleagues and share experiences. It’s the small things – a throwaway comment between calls or a glance across a desk when something goes wrong – that add up to make a team. I’ve missed those small things in lockdown.

Lee Lian Kong, Editor for Study International, Kuala Lumpur

Lee Lian Kong, Editor for Study International, Kuala Lumpur:

Hey Leels — how’s the whole work-from-home thing going in KL? How do you keep everyone on the same page?

Imagine this graph: The x-axis are the days since Malaysia went into lockdown on March 18. On the y-axis, there are two upward trends: Productivity and readership. This is our first work-from-home gig and I’m happy to report out of sight is not out of mind. My hypothesis is less commute — Malaysian traffic is awful — equals more industriousness. 

Our education and tech teams meet via Zoom at the start and end of each day. In between, we Slack one another for story ideas, trending keywords, what we’re having for dinner (ramen is very popular). Weekly meetings with Sydney and Bristol proceed as usual too. There’s usually a quiz at the end of day with the entire KL office, which is always inexplicably won by our editorial director/resident pop culture whiz Jacq. 

Have you learned something about yourself and your coworkers during this time?

Structure is everything for me. I set up my monitor, mouse pad, Hybrid coffee mug, etc exactly as they were in the office — never work from the couch, 10 minutes and your spine will be crying. I put on comfortable but smart clothes. I wake up at the same time, eat breakfast and do all the things I would typically do to get ready for work. They put me in the right frame of mind and keep distractions at bay. 

The KL team is physical distancing yes, but not social distancing. Believe it or not, we’ve actually gotten closer to each other during lockdown. I now know who is the biggest Sandra Bullock fan, the names of everyone’s pets and who has a Darwin-like thirst in discovering new animal species. 

You’ve got the cutest Pomeranian dog we’ve ever seen. Has the extra time at home allowed you to teach Panda any new tricks, and please can we see one? Thanks! 

Yes! He’s learned how to fetch, shake, turn and is on the way to become a rising TikTok star. Here he is training to be the Usain Bolt of the canine world:

@leeliankongAthletic spectacle of adorable proportions. Welcome to Pandamonium the Pom’s first tik tok ##pomeranian ##puppypom ##pomerainian ##eliudkipchoge ##running♬ Run – AWOLNATION

Hybrid at the office and at home: Navigating a global crisis
July 08, 2020

Hybrid Media is spread over three continents, from Bristol, to Kuala Lumpur, all the way down to Sydney. We’re used to being able to get on planes to see each other, pop in to see what new plants have appeared on desks and bask in the beauty that is the UK office (oh, you haven’t seen it? Here!). 

In mid-March, everyone’s world was thrown for a loop. Borders shut. Buildings were left empty, and every single Hybrid employee was sent to work from home for what was an undetermined amount of time. Internet bandwidths were put to the test, elasticated everything was worn and we all got very familiar with each other’s walls. Yes, coworkers — you were right to observe that this employee still had Christmas decorations up three months after the fact. 

Here we are in July, and things are slowly going back to the way they were. Kind of. 

Our Sydney office is back in the building, distanced and enjoying the relative ghosttown that is the CBD. In our Bristol office, we’re experimenting with having some of the team back, while others continue to work from home. Here in KL, where you’ll find some of our editorial, design and digital team members, it’s the same ol, same ol — we’ll continue to work from our respective casas and keep on Zooming.

Here’s what four of our team members, spread across the world and working in different ways, have to say about the last few months and what to look forward to for the second half of probably the most surreal year of our respective lives.

Emma, Account Management, Sydney

Emma, Account Management, Sydney:

Hey Emma! How’s the office? Is it true that downtown Sydney is empty? 

Sydney CBD is empty, yes! Although starting to pick up this morning after our public holiday yesterday. Our team starts early in the morning at 7am and so we miss most of the rush hour traffic anyway which has been good as there are only 12 people allowed on a bus at a time! Once we get inside our office it’s business as usual though 🙂 we only upgraded into our new space in February so we were all keen to get back and use our brand new office! 

What was it like working from home for so long? Did you miss the coworker camaraderie? 

I really did — it’s not the same working from home with your partner. We have a 1 bedroom apartment and were both working from the living room and so when we were both on calls, it was hard to concentrate! It was nice to be able to have lunch together but I missed seeing our team and knowing how everyone was getting on. Zoom just doesn’t replace it!

Do you have pets and are they wondering where you’ve gone? 

I don’t have any pets unfortunately 🙁 I was tempted to foster a dog during lockdown but I think I would have found it too distracting while trying to work! 

What are you guys cooking up for the rest of 2020? Give us the hits.

We have a small but focused team and so we’re 100% back at it with more concentration on helping our clients overcome the variety of challenges they’re facing. We have product lines that can help them target domestic audiences, webinar registrations, virtual open days and campus tours for the Universities – all of these can reach a lot more people at this stage as everyone is at home and online! We have had to be pretty flexible in our approaches in the last 10 weeks with clients requesting messaging changes/target parameter changes to pivot based on the situation, so it’s been a really fast paced and agile environment which will definitely continue!  

Max, Creative, Bristol

Max, Creative, Bristol:

Hey, hey Max. Describe trying to coordinate the redesign of our Study International website across three continents and dozens of hours between us.

Ha. I think my first thought and the timing of lockdown was — of course — oh sh*t! But given the international structure of our teams, a remote way of working and collaborating is something that we’re used to. The challenge with SI is to make full use of our teams at the right times, understanding a diversity of user journeys that go on within the platform and designing it in a way that intelligently deals with all those needs.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is your wifi at home?

Some days it’s a 9, others a 2. That’s my favourite challenge with the wifi — total unpredictability. 

From a Creative Director, would you be able to advise on what makes a good Zoom call background? 

Relevance. Whether it’s someone’s birthday, a company quiz or Trump’s latest gaff — it’s your opportunity to throw a curveball into any agenda someone might have had planned. 

Kane, Sales, Bristol

Kane, Sales, Bristol:

Hello! How’s it back at the office? Is it as beautiful as you left it? 

Absolutely. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been stuck inside for so long, but if anything the office seems even nicer than before! As we adhere to social distancing rules we’ve actually got more space too, which is nice for people like me who struggle to stand still.

It’s a homely space (except my home doesn’t come with a bar!) and it helps foster a professional but comfortable environment. I’m glad to be back for sure.

Any of the plants die? 

I don’t think we had any plants before lockdown, but it looks like the place has been very well looked after. 

Now we’re back, it’s definitely time to get some nice foliage in! A few succulents are the only thing really missing from my desk now.

What’s the best part about being back? 

The team. Collaborative working is integral to everything we do here, so I’m really glad to be able to speak immediately to colleagues and share experiences. It’s the small things – a throwaway comment between calls or a glance across a desk when something goes wrong – that add up to make a team. I’ve missed those small things in lockdown.

Lee Lian Kong, Editor for Study International, Kuala Lumpur

Lee Lian Kong, Editor for Study International, Kuala Lumpur:

Hey Leels — how’s the whole work-from-home thing going in KL? How do you keep everyone on the same page?

Imagine this graph: The x-axis are the days since Malaysia went into lockdown on March 18. On the y-axis, there are two upward trends: Productivity and readership. This is our first work-from-home gig and I’m happy to report out of sight is not out of mind. My hypothesis is less commute — Malaysian traffic is awful — equals more industriousness. 

Our education and tech teams meet via Zoom at the start and end of each day. In between, we Slack one another for story ideas, trending keywords, what we’re having for dinner (ramen is very popular). Weekly meetings with Sydney and Bristol proceed as usual too. There’s usually a quiz at the end of day with the entire KL office, which is always inexplicably won by our editorial director/resident pop culture whiz Jacq. 

Have you learned something about yourself and your coworkers during this time?

Structure is everything for me. I set up my monitor, mouse pad, Hybrid coffee mug, etc exactly as they were in the office — never work from the couch, 10 minutes and your spine will be crying. I put on comfortable but smart clothes. I wake up at the same time, eat breakfast and do all the things I would typically do to get ready for work. They put me in the right frame of mind and keep distractions at bay. 

The KL team is physical distancing yes, but not social distancing. Believe it or not, we’ve actually gotten closer to each other during lockdown. I now know who is the biggest Sandra Bullock fan, the names of everyone’s pets and who has a Darwin-like thirst in discovering new animal species. 

You’ve got the cutest Pomeranian dog we’ve ever seen. Has the extra time at home allowed you to teach Panda any new tricks, and please can we see one? Thanks! 

Yes! He’s learned how to fetch, shake, turn and is on the way to become a rising TikTok star. Here he is training to be the Usain Bolt of the canine world:

@leeliankongAthletic spectacle of adorable proportions. Welcome to Pandamonium the Pom’s first tik tok ##pomeranian ##puppypom ##pomerainian ##eliudkipchoge ##running♬ Run – AWOLNATION

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