How is business continuing for the industry now working from home is the new normal? Source talks to Liesa Dornan, licensing director Europe, about how Retail Monster 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: Liesa Dornan, licensing director Europe, Retail Monster.
How is the team’s day now structured, with everyone working from home?
Well it’s different for each of us depending on our household set ups. We have daily check ins to make sure we remain connected. We are just a little team, so it’s easy to navigate and manage, and as our business was born at the kitchen table, it has been relatively easy to adapt back.
Could you provide a rough timeline of your day?
Firstly I scrape Weetabix off the table (it’s like cement), hoover the Rice Krispies and remove small painful objects to find space for my laptop, normally about 9.30/10. I do try and exercise while managing the Cbeebies clean up.
I prefer to start the day managing through the overnight inbox, and meetings start from 10.30/11. Although have you noticed lunch breaks are a thing of the past? Then it’s generally back to back meetings and calls with our lovely licensing friends, across many countries until about 5/5.30 when parental duties kick in again. Occasionally there are ‘muted’ calls in the evening.
How is the communication with licensees/retailers/partners continuing?
Frequent. We have all been impacted, in different ways, and we have maintained contact with many, even if it’s just to say hello.
How important is it to continue keeping these lines of communication open during this time?
Hugely important. We are a circle of licensing life, and we each need to work for each other. I think the biggest thing to come out of this has been how honest we have all been with each other. It’s been refreshing to have so many straight forward conversations with our community.
Which projects are you able to move forward on right now?
Well on the licensing front, we have a number of big gaming programmes planned for AW20 – we had to pause to let the market settle, but we are beginning to take steps forward again. Others we have had to pause and re-plan for some really exciting initiatives for SS21 or beyond that we are working through at the moment.
Other than that, we have been here to support retail any way we can as they have adapted through this period.
What piece of advice would you give about how best to continue to feel like a team while WFH?
Have a routine with regular check ins together. Also, recognise and reward as you normally would. It’s a different experience for us all, and that all needs to be taken into account.
How are you keeping up morale?
We have weekly baking/cooking challenges – souffles, lasagnes, muffins, scones etc. And we make sure we laugh every day together – it’s so important to have a chuckle. We also have games nights fortnightly with our team and wider client family that are hugely entertaining.
Best thing about WFH?
More time to do laundry! For me it’s more time with my family, and a better work/life balance.
What’s the one thing you’ve discovered about each team member since WFH that you didn’t know before?
Gemma didn’t own a wooden spoon and Tom is a wonderful chef. There has never been a better time to work with colleagues, who are more than that, as they are also friends. We are a family and have been a huge support to each other through this time.
If you have children, how are you managing keeping them entertained/educated while you work?
It’s been colourful… I am one of the lucky ones as my partner is a key worker. We have two preschoolers and their childminder (mini nursery) has remained open for them and a couple of others. However, we had three weeks all at home and they coloured, etched and painted almost every surface of the house they could find – walls, windows, doors and red stain lipstick on a toilet.
There have been many tearful moments… It’s such a blessing with the childcare, even with reduced hours, but the work days are crammed. I have also done my bit to support our industry in a big way as they are at the prime age of getting into characters!
What advice would you give to people in the business who are worried about the future?
Stay connected. We will all get through this!