At home with the licensing industry: Egmont Publishing

How is business continuing for the industry now working from home is the new normal? Source talks to Cally Poplak, md, about how Egmont Publishing has adapted.

With the licensing and related industries all working from home due to COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns, Source talks to key companies across the spectrum to find out how they are keeping business going.

Today: Cally Poplak, md, Egmont Publishing.

How is the team’s day now structured, with everyone working from home?

We had already moved to fully agile working last October (hot desking, digital approvals, Microsoft Teams, etc), so everyone adapted remarkably quickly to teamworking from home, including accommodating the new demands of home-schooling.

Could you provide a rough timeline of your day?

My day is structured pretty much as it was in the office. The only difference is no commute, a half hour lunch with my children and most of my time on Teams calls!

How is the communication with licensees and retailers continuing? How important is it to continue keeping these lines of communication open during this time?

Communication has continued as normal – in other words, a lot! It’s been important to share between us information on how COVID-19 is affecting our respective businesses and the mitigating actions we are taking.

Which projects are you able to move forward on right now?

During lockdown, we have continued to publish across our list. We even managed to acquire, create and publish in just one month Thank You, Baked Potato by Matt Lucas, in aid of the NHS, and to create and publish Thomas and The Royal Engine, a specially commissioned episode for Thomas’ 75th anniversary, introduced by Prince Harry.

We are a consumer-led publishing house, so we have also invested in a project with Mumsnet to show parents how reading to their child can alleviate the stress and boredom of being at home 24/7 away from school friends.

What piece of advice would you give about how best to continue to feel like a team while WFH? How are you keeping up morale?

Regular meetings and constant communication of plans. Sharing of good news through all channels, including video conferencing – seeing people in their own space creates an immediate intimacy. Regular one-to-one video calls to check in on how individuals are coping, always mindful of the fact that we’ll all have ups and downs, all have different reactions to the situation and ways of coping, all have different demands on us in our home working environment.

Best thing about WFH? What’s the one thing you’ve discovered about each team member since WFH that you didn’t know before?

Spending more time with my family than I would in a normal working week is a definite bonus. I’m certainly seeing who are the passionate cooks and gardeners!

If you have children, how are you managing keeping them entertained/educated while you work?

We agreed a school timetable with them and a range of after school activitie – and rewards. Reading plugs a lot of gaps, as does encouraging them to create videos for the relatives on favourite topics.

What advice would you give to people in the business who are worried about the future?

We can’t control the future, only how we respond to the present, so I try to find something positive every day, however mundane, and I focus on what I am gaining from working at home rather than what I have lost. There will be a time when we are reflecting back on this experience and I’d like there to be many positive lessons learned to take forward.

If you or your team would like to take part in this feature, simply email Samantha Loveday on

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