Come together, right now, over Zoom.

When the broken-hearted people, living in the world agree: Coronavirus

As it fuels daily ripples of anxiety and unrest, there is no doubt that Coronavirus has hit the whole world.

On Thursday 12th March, Station10 made the difficult decision to close our physical office, announcing that we would be working from home for the foreseeable future.

I had very mixed emotions about this. I was relieved that I no longer had to risk exposure to the virus by travelling to work, but I love being in the office and have never been a big fan of working from home.

Over a month later, a lot has changed, and I want to take a break from the headline stories and share my positive experience of working from home.

Station10 have been determined to keep our office culture alive, doing amazing things which have made me smile and kept my spirits up.

Disclosure: During my time in lockdown I’ve indulged in many light-hearted movies, one of them being ‘Yesterday’ which has inspired the Beatles ‘puns’ throughout this blog (apologies in advance)!

Yesterday, all my troubles felt so far away: the office

The Station10 culture is one of the things I love most about going to work. The office allows for a perfect mix of a professional working environment, a space for collaboration and friendships. Being a relatively small team is one of best the things; everyone gets along, and we all talk to each other about ‘life outside the office’.

I want to hold your hand: until then we’ll settle for a ‘daily chat’

One of my main concerns about working from home was losing human interaction and feeling isolated. To keep that essence of ‘life’ with us throughout this period, the senior team came up with the idea of ‘daily chats’. Each morning at 9:30 there is an optional drop-in Teams session for 30 minutes. These chats open the floor to anything, from politics to haircuts to last night’s dinner. For me, these calls have been a really successful way of encouraging us to talk and ensuring that you can have a non-work-related conversation at least once day.

A Day in the Life (without coffee?): virtual coffees

Who doesn’t love grabbing a coffee and having a chat? The senior team have encouraged us to block our diaries out and invite one another for a virtual coffee any time we feel that we need one.

They’ve also taken this notion a step further, with the senior team hosting a weekly drop-in coffee session where we can ask for advice on anything from career progression to coping with multiple deadlines to your quarantine morning routine.

During these sessions, the senior team also talk openly about the impacts of Coronavirus on the business. This openness is constantly reiterated in the form of emails and on team calls, ensuring confidence and transparency from the top. I welcome this level of honesty and it really brings the team together.

While my ‘back’ gently weeps: dining chairs are not meant to be sat on for eight hours a day

In the past when I’ve worked from home I’ve struggled to get into the flow, missing my office set up of multiple screens and additional tech. Generally, after one day of working from home with a ‘hotchpotch’ work area, I am excited to return to my desk. So the prospect of months working from home did initially petrify me.

On the day we closed the office, we were told to take home anything we would need to make our time working from home easier. So I took one of my large screens, my keyboard, mouse, and headset.

For the first few days I was delighted with my set up. However, one week into lockdown and my back was constantly cracking and in pain. I’d had no idea that that sitting on my dining room chair for 8 hours a day would be so uncomfortable. So I spoke with my line manager about the possibility of getting a chair from the office to my home. By the end of the next week, a new desk chair and some other tech related gadgets were delivered to my flat.

Having these items delivered to my home has made such a significant impact; both physically and in making me feel valued and cared for. Others in the company have had similar experiences.

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down: sending virtual love in the form of care packages

Isolation is difficult for everyone; life has been spun on its head, and some of our favourite hobbies we used to do without thinking (i.e. cinema, pub, gym) are now not allowed. This means we need some new ones.

To help us find some new hobbies and spread a little joy through everyone’s day the social team arranged ‘Care Packages’ to be sent to everyone’s house.

Each package was slightly different and contained things like as activity books, colouring books and pencils, football/cat games and quiz boxes.

It was a bit of fun that helped to lift my spirits and tell me that Station10 cares how I’m doing.

All the lonely people: join us for games night

Every two months, we usually host a games night in the office, where we play a variety of different games, drink some beers, and order a takeaway. These nights can go on for hours and have such a nice vibe with at least one laughing fit.

So that we don’t miss these nights together too much, Tom, one of our analysts, took the time to build us a virtual games platform. The platform gives us the option to play some of our favourite games; Articulate, Code Names and ‘three things in five seconds’.

For these ‘games’ nights we now use a mix of Zoom and Tom’s gaming platform to seamlessly recreate the games as if we were all together. This has been a huge hit with the office and brings a sense of normality and happiness to my week, while giving me something to genuinely look forward to.

Hey Station10 – Take a sad ‘situation’ and make it better:

We may not be able to see each other but we can venture ‘through the keyhole’. This one is really fun. The social committee set up an anonymous slack profile for ‘Alan Turing’ and gave everyone the log-in details.

Whoever wanted to play secretly set a date for them to be the mystery Alan. On this day they post at least three pictures of their house or things they own. Once a picture is uploaded, the team looks for clues as to whose house it is.

Detective Inspector Edward is regularly on the case, providing hilarious commentary:

“This person has been procrastinating by organising their fridge”

“I suspect this person is staying with an elderly relative, the bedspread gave that impression (any offence intended)”

“An exceptionally twee way to store matches…I think is a very ‘house proud’ person…”

As lockdown continues, we’re mixing the game up slightly, allowing for each mysterious ‘Alan’ to send a wider variety pictures – anything from pictures on their camera roll to links to songs, videos or memes.

‘Through the keyhole’ gives us fun and conversation and includes a 15-minute video chat at the end of the day for ‘the reveal’. It’s helped us to get to know each other on a new level.

Twist and Shout: discord channel

Normally, one of the most controversial topics in the office is what is played on the office speaker. Choices range from Nick’s 90’s House music, to Jan’s Gangster rap to my Country playlists.

Tom (again) found a brilliant solution to this, by building a discord channel. This is typically a platform which allows gamers to talk to each other, to which Tom has linked the Station10 playlist, which is now played throughout the day.

Here comes the sun; helping others

I’m really proud to work for a company that cares about doing good as well as doing business.

We’re investing in projects on data for social good and have volunteered our data insight services to the NHS and related initiatives to fight against Covid-19.

But the bosses have also been looking at what else we can do to help society more widely.

So we’re looking to support mental health charities with data analytics and insight programmes, and will be starting a project to calculate the carbon footprint of data.

Last year, we delivered a data education programme for teenagers, to help them understand how data can be used and inform debate, but also to give them a taster of what a career in our industry might look like. With the massive disruption to school’s right now, we’re rolling this out this year.

If you are interested in any of these projects, by the way, please get in touch.

Little darling, the smiles returning to their faces – overall impact

This whole situation has really made me realise how much I have to be thankful for, in and outside of work. Having a team of amazing, talented, down-to-earth people along with a senior team who genuinely do care for each individual’s wellbeing makes me feel so incredibly lucky.

Although I no longer have access to the endless office supply of biscuits, I do feel that, in a strange way, I‘ve become closer both to my colleagues and some of my clients. I have a variety of outlets to talk about life outside of work and the bleak situation we are currently in (even if these chats do cover mainly Netflix and cooking!).

I do feel optimistic that this situation is not forever, and there are many silver linings. The sentiment of ‘You’ll never walk alone’ really rings true here (not quite the Beatles, but close!) both inside and outside Station10.

I get by with a little help from my friends.

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