Sarah Munnik, MD And Senior Partner

A reflection on life at Pead during alert level three

It’s the start of the world as we’ll know it – and that’ll be fine.

But it won’t be easy. While some businesses have adapted to change, modified the way they do business or been open during alert level 4, others have been bought to their knees. And is awful to watch particularly when I see the media industry taking a big hit.

It will take a long time for the economy to return to its former position – and I believe that we will get there, but we need to get there by thinking differently.

I’ve been fortunate that Pead has remained open during the lockdown so my days have still been filled up, but I’ve noticed a huge difference in my thinking and my own view of my life. And it hit me quite hard if I’m honest.

It’s the first time in my entire working life where I haven’t had to travel a significant distance to get to work. For whatever reason, I’ve always seemed to settle between 25km and as much as 60km away from my office. A quick and very rough calculation shows I’ve spent more than 1,500 hours in my car – just to get to work and back. Now while I am supportive of cutting pollution and not driving is a good thing, what struck me most was the amount of time this travel took. Add to that the need to get up early to beat traffic, hit the gym and get to the office on time – it’s no wonder I feel tired.

Then on top of work and travel I play sports some evenings and I run – oh and I have a household to manage.

This certainly doesn’t make me any different to anyone else – but I realised that I do live from minute to minute, everything is on a schedule and spontaneity is foreign to me.

I’ve also started to notice things that I’ve never paid attention to before, such as the pretty garden up the road from my house, that I can survive without going to the shops every week and that reading a book is actually pretty cool. And having a run most mornings before work is great, not to mention a chance to actually have a conversation with my husband and kids that is not rushed or consisting of soundbites as we all move to our next ‘activity’.

So why does any of this matter? Because in the coming months we will all need to change the way we work, live and play – life won’t be what it was before COVID-19 and I actually think that is a good thing.

If there is one thing I’ve learnt it’s that being busy every minute doesn’t make me better at anything – it just makes me tired!

I certainly believe that I will need to work harder than I have before as we rebuild the economy and adapt to the changing media and communications industry – but I now truly believe I can do all this and have a bit more time to do it all.

As an agency, we’ve been working from home for the lockdown and will continue this in alert level 3 – we’ve always wanted to be more flexible and we’ve now been pushed to make it happen. I believe we will continue to work this way and ultimately this gives everyone a bit more freedom, breathing space and on the flip side we can look to reduce our commercial office space.

I’ve also found meetings have become very efficient – people arrive on time and we get through everything in the allotted time – what a wonderful thing. I think there has been a natural shift towards better time management and efficiency.

We will need to think differently and approach communications in a more creative way. With the closure of Bauer, AGM and some of our bigger media houses reducing headcount, smart and intelligent ideas will win. Brands will need to shift their thinking and move away from what they’ve always done if they want to get cut through – and some it may require a little bit of experimentation.

So while there will be change and adaption – those businesses and brands that embrace the change will come out tops.

Like you, I don’t know what the future holds, and there is still uncertainty regarding the economy, travel and COVID-19 itself, and we can’t downplay the hurt and worry many Kiwis are going through as a result of job losses and financial pressures, but I remain positive because I think the future normal will be better in the long run.

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