Thriving in a transformed working world

In this episode of our Unmuddled podcast, we sit down with some brilliant females from TKF’s digital department to discuss their unique experiences starting their advertising careers during the pandemic and how this challenging time has positively shaped how they work today. Plus, hear their insights on the future of hybrid working and how it will transform the advertising industry.

Available to listen here.


Hello and welcome to Unmuddled. A podcast from The Kite Factory Media. In each episode, we take a topic from the world of marketing and media and simply on model it, giving you the information you need to know. I’m Nora Walden, a senior digital account executive here at The Kite Factory. And today I’m joined by a lovely selection of ladies from our digital team. We’ve got Camilla, Immy, Claudia, Iona, Jess and Annie. So on today’s episode, we’ll discuss what it’s like to start a career now that we kind of live in a world where it sounds unbelievable that we ever had to come to the office five days a week, kind of working at 9:00 to 5:00 with no questions asked and and how all of us navigated the start of our careers and our jobs here at. The kite factory. When we were in the middle of the pandemic, so if we go back a few years and kind of start from the beginning. Immy and Jess. You spend your life. Is your unit in lockdown? Did that change your future plans at all? And do you think that helped you prepare for the remote working? Yeah. So I think it was 2020 we found out we were going into a lockdown. I obviously had, like the rest of my degree to finish. I think that’s the same with Jess and after Uni I plan to go travelling. But yeah, that kind of lockdown kind of. Got rid of that plan and then? We kind of went into full work instead, was that the same with you? Yeah, I was literally gonna go travelling as well. So that’s how it changed for me. It’s a quite big change. It just sort of accelerated working life for me. But in my case I was doing my placement year when lockdown happened. So that was cut short for me, but I got a sense of hybrid working quite early on because my placement turned purely working from home and then I got furloughed and then it was cut short, but it meant going into my final year. After that I was quite prepared. Everything was going to be online. Yeah. And then in terms of like how it helped us to prepare, I was kind of like thrown in straight the deep end as in the university didn’t know how they were going to go about it either. And yeah, it kind of made, I suppose like our whole year group and years after quite proactive as we didn’t have much. One to one support from lecturers and then I think this kind of has helped us like translate that into working. For example, like trying to find answers before going to our managers and really researching that and really cherishing the time that we have with our managers to ask questions. Cuz I found in that hybrid working period especially like over over teams, you don’t get that much support and you rarely speak to your manager. Like on a call maybe? Like once a day. So just like. Preparing yourself with your questions? Yeah, I found that to be the case for me as well with my uni. I found that I really had to push to get support because whereas usually I would stay behind at a lecture which when they were in person in first and second year, that’s when I’d go and ask any questions about. Assignments or exams coming up and obviously I wasn’t able to do that and it was just a lot more sort of awkward on a team seminar because you’ve got the whole. Group and it was just a lot less engaged and you would just be taken out into breakout rooms to speak about the people to speak with the people in the seminar rather than getting that one to one with your lecturer in person. So yeah, it made you really proactive. You had to go. Sort of seeking support yourself. Of which, yeah, I’ve made it a lot more difficult for the final. Year. Yeah, and then on the flip side, I think it made us a lot more self motivated as well because it could. It can be quite like an isolating. Process like doing finishing uni like from home, but then I found that carried over into work but I also found in the workplace it was a lot less isolated like everyone was striving towards the same goal. So you’ve got more support at work. Well I did compared to my uni. Yeah, definitely. I think we came at a time where the world had changed and they they sort of adjusted for that in the workplace. So yeah, there was a lot more support in place in work than Uni and I think we expected to go into work and it be hybrid. Like if I’d got this job and it was, oh, you’re in five days a week, I would have been. That’s strange. That’s not what’s going on anymore. So whereas for uni it was also, we weren’t getting the experience that we should have got in our final year, things were closed. So yeah, completely different experience for the better in work. I’ve done me personally. Do you do you think or feel like you didn’t almost have the natural kind of ending to uni and then having, like, a weird, weird transition into kind of going? Directly into work, but there was some kind of, you know, usually when you finish uni, it’s like this big thing, but you feel like you. Were kind of robbed from that, definitely, yeah. Definitely. I mean, I was quite lucky though. I got a graduation and a grad ball in person. I don’t know if you. Yeah, my graduation was a year later, but when I like handed in like my final exam, I literally just shut my laptop and I. Yeah, like nothing happened. It was so, like, anticlimactic. Yeah, happy. That’s all over. Definitely. But then Claudia and Camilla, you were actually trying to end the the job market when everything was basically shut down or everything was done remotely. How did? You find that. In my case, my situation has been pretty different because I moved to. I’m from Italy and I moved to London. Just someone before the pandemic. So it’s been a bit hard because I was completely unaware of what was. Opening and it’s been different because not only the job market was changing, but also there were less job opportunities and I quit my job in Italy before to move to London. So it’s been pretty hard, especially because of course being from a foreign country, there were some. Language barriers. The last job opportunities because of the pandemic. So at the beginning was pretty hard to find a real good job. Opportunities for me. In fact, I started with a part time job in a really nice startup and. I think that the hardest thing work from remote is not only the interview process, but more the onboarding. Because you are basically. Just alone and you need to support yourself, especially before when we work completely fully from home. Now, with the average work is pretty different. I don’t know what do you think. Camila. Yeah. So I had also quite a unique situation. I was lucky. I graduated in 2019, so I didn’t have the same situation as Jess and Emmy in terms of having to finish uni during COVID. So obviously I had to come home from travelling and I wanted to just get on with starting my career at that point. But yeah, as Claudia said, it was really difficult. There just weren’t jobs out there because of all the uncertainty. So many people being furloughed, lots of people being made redundant and so on, people just weren’t recruiting. So I ended up working as a picker. Online deliveries at a supermarket I worked on tills at another supermarket, worked at a nursery, did some child minding for a couple of families and that was kind of going on for seven. Whilst I was applying for jobs in advertising industry and it was a little bit so destroying just because. You didn’t hear back from most people. There weren’t any kind of recruitment, kind of fairs or, you know, graduate days or anything like that happening. And by that point, I was so far removed from uni because it was over a year since I’ve graduated, so I was very far removed from any kind of careers. Advice that I was able to access when I was at. Me and so on, but I did eventually get this job actually via LinkedIn, and yeah, the interview process was bizarre. I had to sit waiting to be let into the teams meeting in my dad’s office. Really nervous. Really hard to kind of breed how people are responding to. What you’re saying? So actually my first interview was a phone call, and then I had two other teams. But yeah, I remember it was weird kind of thinking about what, what to wear and stuff like that when you haven’t really left your house for so long. I was actually meant to have my first day in the office. It was November 2020, so stuff. Had started to open up, but then we went into a lockdown like. Four days before I started, and then I then didn’t meet anyone for six months after I joined. Obviously, I met them on teams and actually teams and and having video calls was really helpful. I think it would all just been over a phone call. It just wouldn’t have been the same. But you can actually get a certain degree of like. Body language and so on, over teens. And the agency were really good and making sure that we also did social things. So we had, like, drinks on Fridays over teams. So when it did come to meeting people, I did feel like I knew them. They were just all a lot shorter or taller than. I thought they would be, but yeah, yeah, I didn’t actually realise until everything started to unlock. That there is a bit more of. Like a play element to our industry because obviously it all been work because that’s all it could really be for the first six months I was, I was very excited to be invited to my first media owner. Lunch wasn’t aware that was a thing, but. Perfect. Well then moving on to Iona and Annie, you actually started at the Chi factory at after we had already transitioned to kind of hybrid working. How was that experience for you, and were there kind of any surprises whether they? Were good or bad? I think the thought of starting hybrid and remotely was a lot more daunting than the actual reality of it at the thought of kind of being in a very siloed, isolated environment, just working from my mum’s house as opposed to kind of like in my previous role starting with a. Lot of other. People all joining at the same time in the same level. So I think, yeah, the the thought was quite daunting. But I think at the time I joined, which was kind of the beginning of 2021, I think companies were a lot more set up for remote working and the onboarding process was a. Lot more smooth. Than it probably was for some of the other girls here, who probably started more in the depths of the pandemic. Did you start a bit earlier than me? I own her. Yeah, so I started. In the summer and it was still a bit like COVID, there wasn’t many people coming into the office. I don’t think we had like a an amount of days. We had to be in. So I remember my first day I arrived and I think two people were here. We were here, yeah. Random I was. Yeah, it was a really random Monday and I was so nervous and I came in and I was like. Ohh nobody’s here. So I met my manager and then it was actually I think. A lot easier because it. Wasn’t that overwhelming sense of like everyone in the office is here and the thought of, like, everyone’s gonna be staring at you and things like that, but actually having just my manager and a couple of other people, it very much eased me in. But then it came to the next day when I was at home. And just like, what do I do now, which I think was really weird. But I think it was a lot less daunting than you think. I think things like small questions that you’re really nervous to. Like message over teams and stuff actually aren’t like as big as you think they are. And I think stuff like that is something that’s a small hurdle that makes it quite tricky when you’re going over teams and you’ve got a tiny question about, you know, a login for something and it you big it up in your head. But actually it’s something that you have to. Get over and being in that hybrid senses where you can, like, actually talk to people and get those smaller questions out of the door or just jumping on a call with someone. I think it’s a lot. Then then you think it is at the beginning. I don’t know, Annie, you have. Similar thoughts on that. Yeah, definitely. I think just when you’re in the office in general, if you’ve got a small question, you can just tap someone on the shoulder and ask them. And it feels like very minimal, but especially when you haven’t met any of your colleagues and you’re having to like message people that you’ve honestly never met before and asked some questions, you’re kind of in a bit of a nuisance almost, even though you don’t have any contact. So it’s not in any way your fault. But yeah, it definitely is a small hurdle that feels like quite a big one and just also being entry level when you start hybridity, I think because you just have very limited context of everything, not. Just kind of like, you know, the the work itself, but maybe like the platforms you’re using or the technology, I remember I had to ask the head of IT on my first day when my camera wasn’t working and he just messaged and said, oh, there’s a little switch above the camera. You can turn it on or off. So just small things like that can definitely. Just like make you feel a bit more nervous, but yeah, like we said, I think definitely the thought of it more daunting than the reality of it. And I do think there are some. Kind of more. There are a few pros, definitely to starting hybrid, especially for people with different personality types. Perhaps if you’re a bit more extrovert and you kind of get energy off from people, then yeah, starting in like a busy office would be quite nice for you. But if you maybe are, you know, you tend to be a bit more introverted, maybe starting more hybrid Lily would benefit. Who as a person? Just because you can kind of get to grips with processes and like the people that you’re going to be working more closely with instead of having kind of all that overwhelming experience of meeting everyone and doing everything and learning everything all at once. So I definitely think that that could be a pro for like hybrid working. Yeah, definitely. I think as well, like long commutes can be so tiring when you’ve just started a new job and actually like removing that completely and coming in like once or twice a week actually allows you to be the person you want to be. Other than just like feeling so drained like you’ve had to have so much information for the first couple of weeks and actually just not having to sit on a train for half an hour an hour during those first really busy weeks, I think can be really helpful for people as well. Yeah, definitely. But unlike the flips, I think there are like a lot of challenges that do come just with starting fully remotely. I think one of the big ones, especially like when we were saying like you are entry level, you’re just missing quite a lot of that like overarching. Context and being in the office with people you pick things up, you can hear other teams talking about something. Maybe they’re having like, a similar kind of discussion to what you. Know you you need to. Join in on or you can just like gain small earnings. I think much easier, whereas obviously when you are hybrid, you definitely have to be more proactive. Put yourself out there. And and learn in that regard. Yeah, I think definitely cause in my previous agency I joined it one month before the lockdown. So I had to. One month where I was in the office and this was when I was fully new to kind of this industry and just that one month where I wasn’t necessarily like. You know, asking all the questions, but I overheard so much stuff and I think that helped massively. So I think it’s definitely a challenge if you start remotely. But as you. Said like I. Remember was that daunting feeling of like walking into the full office where I was the only new person. I felt like all the eyes were on me. So like for some people that might be a huge relief that they don’t need to do that. I guess move me then on from there and kind of open up the floor to anyone it does like look like hybrid work is here to stay. So I guess, do you have any tips on kind of how to make that work for any new starters or even for someone who’s actually been working in the industry for ages, but now it’s kind of. Trying to find the balance of you know how. Do I get the malls? Out of this new way of working. I guess taking like any opportunity to jump on a call with someone like not. I don’t think it’s an issue to not want to like ask little questions with people. And I think actually just sending someone a message and saying can we jump on a call as you would just tap them on the shoulder in the office is probably something that’s really important for someone coming in at a really junior level or also someone super senior to build those relationships with like. Your whole team and the wider agency as well. So I think, yeah, just making sure that you are messaging people and you’re jumping on a call when possible just to build those relationships as early as possible. Yeah, I agree. I think also just even if it’s kind of quite a random training session or focus group or something like that often because of the hybrid working thing, you don’t meet some other people from other teams for quite a long time through your career at at an agency. Before. Yeah, you get kind of your profile built. So I think it’s definitely worth just joining as much as you can to ensure that people know. Who you are affected. OK. I also think like picking and choosing the days where you come in versus when you stay home is quite important. If you maybe got a bit less like actual kind of work on, then maybe it’s quite nice to come into the office. You can join a few more lunch and learns if you’re more like learning sessions, whereas if you’ve got quite a lot of work on. Like reporting or. You know, building a PCA or something. And perhaps it’s nice to stay home and give yourself that kind of more focused time without maybe any like social interruptions in the office. Yeah, I find that personally. Like I kind of when I if I look at my week, I almost look at, OK. What are the? Days that I can go into the office and I know I’m gonna benefit from, like the energy of like having people around and like I know I can ask a lot of stuff and maybe I know that I don’t have like too many calls or whatever. And I just know I can kind of get my work done, whereas if I, as you said, if I know that I’ve got a huge deck which I just need to. Focus on. Then I will usually stay at home for that day because I need not. I need to be kind of fully focused on that. So yeah, I think that’s one thing definitely to kind of focus on is kind of how do you plan your week and your days when you know you can be flexible for us, obviously before it’s just like you come to the office every single day, no. Which just feels really weird now. And I think I’m probably quite different. To you guys as. In I prefer coming into the office on a Monday to like as I find Mondays, quite overwhelming. So I come in on Monday and I’m like, manage my workload for the rest of the week and then. Can leave at half five and I won’t be thinking about work, so that is just my way of like dealing with the hybrid. Yeah, work as well. That’s a good show. Coming in to like, get stuff done. When the office is a bit. Last Tuesday, that is actually true, cause it’s almost like a clear transition from from the weekend into this is the working you know, day where you come, because I I did come in like a couple weeks ago on a Monday and actually quite like they’re like office was quiet but it was kind of clear like OK now I’m in the work. Like mine said, and then I almost had like that as you said that also split then it’s 5:30 and you got back home. Yeah. And I think that’s actually a good thing, like to think about when, whenever you end up kind of have it working like a lot of times when you are working from home, you can easily kind of stay late, work a bit later. So if you want to kind of some days. You know that, you know, it might be a day where you might be working late and stuff. If you want to almost have that mental care for yourself, then coming into the office and being able to, you know. Show your laptop and actually go and like commute back home. That might be a nice little like a yeah me time before. And you don’t get the Monday Blues because you’re seeing. People, that’s very. True, cool. And well, I guess if we kind of. Go towards well the the final bit so. What do you actually think that work is going to look like in five years time? Like, do you think? There’s going to be more changes that come or are we gonna go maybe more towards kind of that physical person in the office or she’s just going to be fully hybrid moving from? I can’t imagine somewhere like here ever being more than three days a week compulsory, I think. People are aware that there are so many benefits to giving people the opportunity to work from home on some days, I think there might be more of a move towards. Increased hot desking at other offices. I know it’s something that my team used to do before COVID used to spend a full day every two weeks at one of our clients offices and because everyone is hybrid working, it’s hard to get the days to align, but I think. That will become more of a something that’s kind of built into the the working weeks in terms of I know we do it sometimes, but I think yeah, we’ll just be more and more. Yes, Camilla said. I think that I’ve been working this year to stay. No more than three days in the office, even though people have a better work life balance, even economically, is maybe worse because you you able to waste a lot of money, like for transport, for families very easy because you can stay with your children more time. And organise your day in a better. So I think that yes, for sure the every working will stay. Yeah. And I think local offices have actually like downsize in terms of. You know office as well. We wouldn’t actually. Be able to. Fit anyone? Everyone in here. So I guess in that way as well, it’s beneficial for the business like you don’t need to operate. They got office and stuff like that. Do you think because I’ve seen like there’s been a lot of news? About the whole. Four working day a week. Do you think that’s gonna become more kind of prevalent in in the UK as well or is that something that’s still pushing it maybe? Full of businesses. I’m hearing about it a lot more, my friend. Their work is actually trialling it, but it just means that her hours are now where it used to be 9 till 5:00 and then nine till three on a Friday. It’s now going to be 8 till 6:00 Monday to Thursday so. Like that, she’d rather do the Friday because she’s like most people are working on a Friday. Day and now I don’t get time in the evenings on the weekday, so I think it just. Depends how it works, because. She’s gonna probably end up working late anyway. Some of the days in the week, so if it means that you don’t have much of A life after work Monday to Thursday, then how beneficial really would it be? It’s a tricky. One, I think for like an industry like ours as well working with so many different sectors, you. Almost need all the sectors to do it because if your client is working on a Friday and you’re not, it makes it quite difficult to actually get workloads done. But yeah, I think things I can nine day, fortnight and things where you get that every other Friday off. Yeah, could help that work life balance where actually you can have that longer weekend. Every other weekend, but your business doesn’t have to shut down. Yeah, I know people that have that system and it’s like half of their immediate client patch work. On Friday and half the other Friday, so the clients never without contact at the agency. Yeah, I think that’s quite a good idea, because then your business isn’t having to shop. You can keep, like, running as usual, just with slightly less staff on a day that actually not too much happens most weeks. And I’ve heard that productivity actually does increase. They did that trial, didn’t they, with some businesses and I think 92% of them afterwards decided to adopt the four day working week because they actually saw productivity. Kind of go up, but I do wonder whether that’s. Just for the trial. Period. And whether you extended it long term. Actually, the four day week would in your head be. A5 day. Week so potentially productivity could plateau, but I’d be. Willing to give it a shot. Yeah, I would. I would want to try because. I think in a way. Like I, I fully agree. Like what Jesse you said and like how you know if if you’re so, then you work until 6:00 PM and you want to do something afterwards, it starts to feel quite. Late, but I think it would be interesting to see like if you knew even you know this week we we only have four working days. Like realistically, you can get everything done within those four working days because you just have to. So it’d be interesting to kind of see. If that could be done. But then yeah, there’s obviously always the, you know, which you then force everyone to have Friday off. What if somebody really, you know, Friday is the best day for them that they want to work? Like if there’s a lot of questions around there, but I think. It’s. I guess it’s something you know, we already saw. Nobody thought that we could do hybrid. Working and then. Here we are. So maybe it’s something that. Is going to become increasingly more popular, but I think. It might be still a bit of a yeah, weird weird thing for a lot of businesses. Thanks for listening to another podcast and make sure to catch our next episode once it’s up.