Where I WFH: Alex Uprichard, Director of Channel Strategy, IMA
Alex Uprichard has a wealth of experience across a range of leading companies, and currently leads channel strategy at IMA.
Having worked agency-side and client-side, Alex took up her current role at IMA in September 2019. IMA works with leading clients, which include Adidas, Arla, Red Bull, Campari, Tesla and more - providing a full-service experience from strategy to execution.
IMA continues to grow, recently recruiting a raft of new digital professionals to its team, and has had some high-profile account wins.
We found out what Alex's current working from home setup looks like...
Where in the house do you work?
I work in what was meant to be the kids' movie room but ended up becoming a place to dump everything no-one could be bothered to put away. In that sense I am really pleased, as we're getting usage out of a room which was previously barely used.
Paint a picture for us of the view from your window.
Directly opposite my desk is a huge picture of us with my husband's side of the family on a beach in Cornwall. It was a family portrait taken for my mother-in-law's 70th birthday and it always makes me smile as it was such a brilliant holiday - it also shows the sea which I have missed greatly in lockdown.
I see this as my real window, although the actual window is to the right of my desk and looks out onto an area of the garden the children use for netball and rugby practice - not ideal, as many a client Teams call has been interrupted by the thud of a misjudged throw hitting the window!
If you have one, can you talk us through your home-working daily routine?
I still get out of bed at a similar time to what I would have prior to lockdown but instead of spending time taking the children to school and commuting, I now try as many mornings as possible to do some yoga or pilates before I go online. It really helps me to start the day focused and energised.
I always listen to The Times' news briefing podcast too as it gives me a bitesize overview of what's happening in the world. Starting work, we usually all greet each other in what we call the Happy Channel & Comms Teams group to stay connected and check everyone is doing well.
Then it's onto the usual rounds of Teams meetings with fellow IMA-ers and clients. I try to block time where possible to break for 'think time', food, and checking the children are homeschooling rather than sneaking onto the Xbox. Video calling has definitely been a godsend for staying in touch, but I also need time to consider, write and research - so I try to build this in wherever possible.
Which tools and technology do you rely on when working from home?
Teams has been our video call brand of choice and has worked really well for our agency. I also use our Google Home to stream Spotify and keep me going with positive vibe tunes. I have definitely used LinkedIn more to feel in touch with the industry, understand how my peers are feeling, and find any tips for working from home for both myself and our teams to benefit from.
What do you miss most about working from an office?
I miss the amazing lightbulb moments you get from sitting down and discussing a problem face-to-face with people who aren't necessarily in your immediate circle of colleagues.
Brainstorming over Teams is obviously still possible, but is a little less fluid and it is easier for quieter voices to not be heard. I also really miss random drinks after work, trips down to IMA London to see our colleagues and clients, and enjoying our new office space in Leeds, which was just finished pre-lockdown and is barely lived in yet!
What tips do you have for increasing productivity while working from home?
I try to keep the same routine as I would have when working from the office. I get up at a similar time, I do my hair, make up and dress fairly smartly. All of this helps me feel together and in a work frame of mind.
I always keep a to-do list as I enjoy the achievement of crossing things off. Certainly, from our experience, I would say productivity hasn't been an issue - it's more learning to switch off and give ourselves the breaks needed to produce excellent work.
It's easy to slip into a constant stream of calls with no time to think, so I would always encourage people to block time for consideration and creation. I find quiet time to reflect just as important as talking projects through with others.
Will you look to work from home more in the future?
I think most people feel that a balance is the way forward here. Both I and my husband work full-time, and we have two children who we need to be present for. The only way we can be in all the places we need to be is to combine home and office working.
I think it's also really important for the environment that commuting is reduced. Lockdown has proven we don't need to always all be in the office together to be really successful, so let's utilise those efficiencies and positives in the future.
How do you think the workplace will change in the future?
I think we will see a more blended approach to work with more opportunity for remote workers, homeworking and flexible working patterns. I also think we've learnt a lot more in the past year about the importance of mental health and wellbeing policy.
I hope to see workplaces embracing all of these areas more as we head into the future. It's definitely something we see as really important at IMA.