Andrew Jenkinson, co-founder of vStream, writes about how the business is coping with the lockdown and how its newest offering – vStream Health- is helping pharma clients with digital transformation.
On Wednesday March 13th , we asked the teams in vStream and vStream Health to spend the morning prepping for an afternoon “work from home drill”, to ensure the infrastructure we had put in place could handle any temporary restrictions, should they happen in the future.
Little did we know that that was the last time we would all be in the office together. The next day the nationwide school closure was announced, and the rest is history, still being written.
For my business partner Niall O’Driscoll and I as founders, our primary concern was the wellbeing of the team, both physical and equally importantly, mental. This is a time of significant stress and uncertainty. Having guided the business through the 2008 recession we knew we needed to prepare ourselves for potential financial impact, but this felt like something bigger, more pervasive and wider reaching than a financial crisis. This touches everyone, in every way.
The “To Do List”
So, simple things that the team organically decided to do:
- A roster for ‘a tune a day’. Every morning at 9am, it’s someone’s turn to post a song on Slack for everyone to kick off the day to. We’ve had sublime, ridiculous, inspirational, melancholy and everything in between. But it’s a brilliant way to get the team engaging in a positive way, and a new insight into everyone’s musical taste. It’s my turn next. I’m petrified!
- A simple Zoom call at 11 for 15 mins, for folks to check in, chat, and catch up with people they might not be in touch with on projects or client work. It’s the digital water cooler. You can’t talk about work, and you get to see what everyone’s wallpaper looks like!
- Morning and afternoon project Zoom check-ins. The digital nature of our business means that we have been able to transition to the remote model with relative ease, which we’re so thankful for, but the creativity that our projects require can suffer without good communication. So, our managers have set up twice daily check-ins with their teams. While it’s a poor second cousin to face to face, some positives have come out of this, with reports that having only one person talk at a time has led to more productive meetings, more listening, and better results!
Pivoting to Pharma
As a business vStream transitioned out of a number of sectors in late 2019, reducing our footprint in sports, retail and automotive, and refocussing on pharma (with the launch of vStream Health) and tech. This has turned out to be a very fortuitous move, with the latter two sectors seeing a significant surge in demand in light of Covid-19.
In pharma, we have been helping our clients a lot with digital transformation – how can they adapt to new ways of working, from video content for patient and HCP communication, to taking events and congresses online.
We’ve also created a number of pro-bono video and animation pieces for our healthcare clients as they rush to help out in the multitude of ways that they can during the crisis. It’s amazing to see industry bond together, so it’s our responsibility to support this where we can.
Our tech clients are looking at solutions ‘beyond Zoom’, trying to find ways to create digital experiences that deliver customer engagement in a more immersive manner than a grid of talking heads on a screen. So, we’re being challenged to innovate in many ways.
As a father of three (9, 10 and 13), with a wife who worked in retail, our house is very busy, and keeping the kids entertained, while managing the workload is a challenge.
I get up early (a benefit of my decision to give up alcohol in Jan 2019 – one which, I won’t lie, I have re-examined a number of times of late, but thankfully have kept my resolve) and go for a 2k walk which brings me to a park where I hit 50 shots with a pitching wedge into a goal.
I’m running a ‘Covid Challenge’ with a golfing buddy, with our daily scores being averaged over the length of the lockdown. If nothing else my short game will be dialled in after all of this! I think our dog Harvey would like to hand in his notice as family walking companion, but that’s a different story!
We’ve tried to use any extra time we have from the lack of daily commute or international business travel to help others where possible, with Niall being very heavily involved in Focus Ireland, and me working with a mental health charity called A Lust for Life, founded by Niall Breslin.
At A Lust For Life we have just launched a free PFA (Psychological First Aid) solution for anyone who needs a little help dealing with the mental health challenges of Covid-19. In partnership with and Therapy Hub, anyone who needs to talk to a licensed therapist can log on to therapyhub.ie and register for a free session. We expect, and welcome, high demand.
We don’t know how long this will last, or what the world will look like when it’s over. What’s most important is how we respond each day to what’s happening, and a lot of that is about perception and managing your thoughts. Little else is in our control. So, mind yourself, and mind your mind. This too will pass.