Like many businesses around the country, SoundCartel has had to learn to deal with restrictions due to COVID-19.
It’s easier just to tap someone on the shoulder and ask whether they have a sec. As we all can appreciate, nothing beats popping over to a colleague’s desk for a quick chat or heads-up about any number of things.
What makes it tough for us is that we’re a tight-knit group – many of us have worked together for decades. Yes, okay, I know it’s a cliché, but we really do feel like we’re a family!
So, it’s regrettable that we’ve had to forgo these social interactions, the little jokes, the wisecracks, the shared stories and anecdotes throughout each day.
But, as the rest of the country has discovered, work is not a place where you go. No, work is something you do. And, we’ve learned to do it from our homes – which, it turns out, are in very different parts of the country.
Where’s the team?
Our newest team member, technical producer and editor, Belinda Trimboli, who’d only recently started at SoundCartel, returned to Adelaide in March, soon after the restrictions were imposed. Her intention was to stay there until the lockdown was lifted in Melbourne.
But with Victoria now in Stage 4 restrictions, it was clever (or lucky!) of Belinda to head back to the relative freedom of South Australia. She ain’t going anywhere just yet!
My home is in the old, cold city of gold – Ballarat. Before lockdown was imposed on Victorians, I had already been working from home three days a week. For those two days a week in the city, it was always quicker to catch the V/Line regional train than drive in peak hour over the West Gate Bridge. Although the commute was long and the timetable often unreliable, I looked forward to catching up with the Cartel team.
Our head of audio, Peter Letts, arguably has the biggest task, to ensure the audio quality of all SoundCartel’s programs continues to be produced at the highest standard. This has meant educating guests on using recording equipment from their own homes or offices, as well as ensuring our own producers can execute their interviews and voice-overs remotely.
Most weekends, over the years, our executive producer, Heather Dawson, would leave Melbourne with her husband for their quiet acreage in the Otway Ranges, a picturesque part of coastal Victoria. Since March restrictions, Heather’s made the Otways their home base. However, being away from the studio, she misses the mateship, sharing of ideas, problem-solving and “a less stressful recording process in the hands of the irreplaceable Pete!”
On the positive side, Heather reckons the greater flexibility in working hours with fewer interruptions or background noise, equals more concentrated productivity.
Producer Nicole Goodman’s home is not too far from the studio. Asked what she likes from an office environment, Nicole says it’s being face-to-face with workmates: “Brainstorming, laughing, quick suggestions and words of encouragement. And being able to jump in the studio booth is a gift.”
But, working from home has meant her morning routine time is slashed. “Less make-up and hairstyling!” she says. “Plus, I have more flexible hours, no traffic, and I’m far more productive without general work distractions. I’m also closer to the fridge – but that’s also a bad thing!”
Perhaps the heaviest responsibility falls on the shoulders of our managing director, Nick Schildberger. Business owners across the country know the challenges with ensuring the business continues to thrive (which ours has) while keeping an eye on the wellbeing of staff. He says that face-to-face meetings in the office are often a faster and definitely more enjoyable way of collaborating. Despite that, Nick’s enjoyed the ability to have some family-balance with his young kids, Hugo and Matilda.
They say one of the first things that fall apart in a crisis is communication. Well, despite our physical distance, we’ve managed to communicate very well indeed and on a regular basis. Zoom has proven a godsend, as well as other online tools, like Trello, WhatsApp and Slack. Not to mention, of course, email and the old-fashioned telephone.
Each of us is always around for confirmation, support, chin-wagging, morale-lifting and of course to discuss work. We continue our own AFL footy-tipping competition and the winner will see their name engraved on the coveted SoundCartel trophy.
Yep, we’re in lockdown, but the show goes on…no matter where we are!
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