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Working from home: Ian’s Diary

THIS WEEK’S WORKING FROM HOME DIARY IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY IAN HUGHES, OUR MARKETING & DIGITAL MANAGER!

Each week we’re asking a member of the team to provide us with their WFH diary to give you an idea of what we’re all up to whilst at home!

IS ANYONE ELSE (SECRETLY) LOVING LIFE IN LOCKDOWN?

So my colleague asked me to write a ‘working from home’ blog and the first thing I ask myself is how honest should I be? Now, don’t get me wrong, I have been working hard, sticking to a kind of schedule, and I have now settled down to a somewhat flexible, but fairly structured daily routine.

My first inclination is to be very honest. Brutally so. Warts and all. The good, the bad and the ugly. Then I realise that these things are never truly honest. Admit it, we all read ‘My Working Day’ features with a heavy dose of skepticism.

You did all that before breakfast? Really? And then you went home at 8.00pm and whipped up a three-course, Michelin star meal for the whole family, before reading a highly intellectual book? Uh, OK, if you say so.

So, as an antidote, I’ve decided to write what could possibly be a world first. The first truly honest ‘My Working Day’ blog. But I don’t want to be too honest, of course. I don’t want to overshare. So, I might allow myself one or two little white lies, along the way – See if you can spot them.

A BIT ABOUT MY JOB

I work as a digital marketing manager for Marketing Liverpool, concentrating largely on the city region’s invest brand – Invest Liverpool. I manage the Invest Liverpool website and social media, writing content, newsletters, case studies and, from time to time, pick up other Marketing Liverpool projects.

Like any job, there are good and bad things about it. But among the best things about working for Marketing Liverpool is that everything we do, across all our brands, promotes and positions Liverpool City Region a great place to live, work, visit, study and invest. So it’s (usually) very easy to motivate myself, because Marketing Liverpool plays an important role and one that deserves to be done well.

5:00 AM: DAILY JOG (TO STOP THE SPREAD)

Now I know what you’re thinking: . ‘There’s no way you get up at 5.00 every day’ – and on some days I don’t – but most working days I do and I’ve been trying to stick to this routine. Getting up early, drinking coffee, getting washed, and doing a one-hour jog, from Bootle to Netherton and back again. As a bit of a night-owl, jogging quite a bit helps me sleep and, at least to an extent, slows down the ever-looming onset of much dreaded middle-aged spread. (My very slight physique pairs poorly with a portly stomach).

8:00 AM: START WORK (IN SLIPPERS)

Now one of the best things about working from home is that there’s no daily commute. So I can actually start work at the time I would normally be heading to the office. In fact, I now feel that, in general, I have quite a bit more time, these days. But I worry that certain standards are slipping.

I now wear mainly sweatpants and old , strictly indoor t-shirts but this means that I no longer have to spend time ironing shirts, polishing shoes, or picking out ties and all these little savings soon add up. I also find that I can cover the day’s Invest Liverpool news an hour earlier, before most people start work, getting the news out before other outlets, which really helps with pick-up and engagement on social media.

BREAKING NEWS (BEFORE 9:00 AM)

If you’re not already following Invest Liverpool on Twitter or LinkedIn, you definitely should. It covers the biggest and best Liverpool City Region business growth and investment news and features, across the city region’s key sectors and it’s amazing how much good news there is and how the city region is always striving ahead, even now, in fact, especially now.

In the face of coronavirus, the Liverpool City Region has quickly come together to develop a myriad of funds and initiatives to support businesses and people and the city region’s world-leading life-science sector is joining partners all over the world to fight the virus on all fronts, which is a great message to share with potential future international investors.

A sample of news is shown below:

Visit investliverpool.com for more and sign-up for updates..

10:45am – PROCRASTINATION CALLS (opinions are my own)

With the news, tweets, website updates and LinkedIn posts all out the way for the morning, my focus dips slightly as I begin to think about non work related matters, for a bit and I decide to have a little catch up on the day’s other developments. This means YouTube news, followed by a lengthy but swift Instagram scroll.

Why YouTube and not the trusty old BBC? Because, like a lot of people, I am enthralled (read horrified) by the daily non-stop news cycle (read dumpster fire) that is the ‘Trump Administration’ and you naturally get much better coverage from USA media like MSNBC, CNN and independent media like ‘The Young Turks’, all uploaded with alarming regularity to YouTube.

I don’t want to get too political here, but (perhaps aside from the coronavirus pandemic itself) Trump’s America , in my opinion, the story of our times and – once the anger/ disbelief subsides – is perhaps best viewed as the world’s most mesmerising reality TV show. High end political drama meets ‘car-crash’ reality TV show, with a cast of – shall we say – unforgettable characters, to put it mildly.

Now for something far more relaxing – Instagram. I’m not the biggest fan of social media, outside of a professional context. Twitter’s a minefield, Facebook’s curated fantasy, but Instagram, if done right, can be chicken soup for the soul, pulling together all your favourite things, in pictorial and video form, to reaffirm your belief in humanity and life itself.

I’m currently following hashtags and accounts that publish vintage New York and Paris photography, abandoned but not forgotten places, classic films, comic book art and #animalfriends, which often features new friendships between the most unlikely animals. A seal that’s inseparable from a sausage dog, a cat that’s raising baby chickens, a soppy alsatian in love with a lama, that type of thing. Pixar movies waiting to happen.

[Photo of sausage dog and baby seal – Unlikely friends]

11.15 STATS & FACTS (FOR A NEW SUITE OF BROCHURES)

Playtime over, I get stuck into the job I was putting off and that’s collating all the facts and stats we use to promote the Liverpool City Region, referencing the source and where it appears across our suite of nearly 30 brochures and our websites. This task follows a recent review of the Invest Liverpool brochures, a project that will eventually work towards updating and refreshing them.

Accurate, up-to-date, sourced data is incredibly important to investors, who want to quickly and easily compare one destination against another, and it helps Invest Liverpool to periodically update and refine our messaging, showing investors how Liverpool City Region compares nationally and internationally. ‘It’s not a glamorous job’ – As my manager would say – but it’s an important one, so I plough ahead, building a now impressive database.

Check out Invest Liverpool’s current suite of brochures HERE.

1.30 ‘LUNCH’ (IN NAME ONLY)

I’m not going to lie. Lunchtime has been replaced with naptime. But it’s not entirely my fault. I’ve been led astray by my only live-in ‘colleague’ – Eve, my cat. Like all cats, she naps for a living, in any place, at any time. A languorous creature by nature, she seems to approve of my new siestas, waiting patiently to join me on the couch, and it’s hard to say no to those giant copper eyes. I know it can’t last, but it certainly beats trudging to the shops for a turgid ‘meal deal’ or forcing down a bland packed lunch while casually scanning emails.

[Obligatory photo of my cat: Eve, shown here between naps]

2.00 PM: BUSINESS CALLS (TO CATCH UP WITH COLLEAGUES)

As great a companion as my cat is, it’s been nice to catch up with colleagues over the phone, mainly about work, but also to gossip. I call Ian Slater, our lead graphic designer, to talk about a potential new website for a forthcoming international event, to be held in Liverpool next year, which we’ve been planning for.

I then call my colleague Roz, who also works on the Invest Liverpool brand, to update her on the work I have been doing and we talk about other forward planning initiatives for Invest Liverpool. Roz has two children under 5 and they look like little angels on her desk photo.

However looks can be deceiving and our calls are often amusingly punctuated with sporadic crashes, cries, shouting and spilled drinks, followed by responses along the lines of “NO! Jamie!” “Put that away” “I’m on the phone!” And ‘Don’t eat that!!!’ which makes me laugh and glad I’m not a parent.

2.30 PM: ‘CASE STUDY’ SUCCESS STORIES

Sony, Unilvever, Peel, Jaguar Land Rover, Princes, Very – Liverpool City Region is home to some incredibly successful companies and global brands that have experienced substantial growth, through everything that the region affords them and it’s important that these stories are told. Companies looking to invest would much rather hear from other companies who have experienced success, than read glowing copy from a marketing professional like myself, any day of the week. That’s why case studies are so important for the investment market.

I have recently written a series of new case studies and today I am beginning to publish the first ten on the Invest Liverpool website, ready to be promoted on social media. You can read them here. (If you work for a well known company in the Liverpool City Region and have a good success story be sure to let me know.)

4.14 PM: IS IT 5.00 YET?

It’s around this time that I start to flag. The sun is still shining and I decide to look out my window and get some fresh air. I live on the top floor of a block of flats, so I don’t have a garden or, sadly, even a veranda. As I look down I can see some neighbours sunning their legs out the window for all the passers by to see and it reminds me what a strange time we’re living in. I briefly consider popping mine out too, but think better of it, looking down at my pale, pasty legs. I’m not sure I want to subject the good people of Bootle to that.

I start to think about this blog and make some notes on my approach to it. I worry about my lack of a dedicated home office space. I don’t have much space, so I bought a kind of dinner tray on wheels, to

serve as a desk, but ultimately it made me feel like a convalescent so I got rid of it and now I just type on my lap in an old wing-back chair, spruced up with a Jean Harlow cushion, shown below. (Still more spacious and comfortable than my work office set-up).

[Picture of old wingback armchair – Actual office]

[Picture of Gordon Geckko’s office from the 1987 movie ‘Wall Street’ – Dream office]

I go through my emails and jot a quick plan for things I want to do the next day and decide to pack in work early. Yes early. 4.45 to be precise. Bet nobody’s ever done that on their ‘My Working Day’ feature before. Such a rebel.

4.45 pm onwards: THE NIGHTS ARE THE WORST

As you might have noticed, working from home isn’t really fazing me or particularly holding me back. But when the working day is done, I tend to think about the impacts of the virus so much more. Like everyone else, I worry about vulnerable people, the NHS staff, key workers and where this is all heading. A tried and tested way to take your mind off , proven the world over, is food plus entertainment.

Now I know some of my colleagues have made their own pasta and created fabulous meals, which they share in their ‘Working from Home’ blogs, and these really serve to liven the features up and add a bit of personality, but it all seems like too much effort for one person, so I throw carrots, broccoli and hot dogs in my steamer and plan the rest of my evening.

[Photo of my dinner: Hotdogs, with carrots and broccoli, no recipe required]

It’s at this time that I really start to miss going out. I long to go to the pub and the cinema and be amongst friends. For all it’s good points, mentioned above, Life in lockdown certainly lacks a bit of joviality and escapism. In an attempt to bring these elements back into my life, I’ve started watching movies nightly on Itunes and fixing my own drinks, nothing too heavy, just bitter shandy – the taste of summer, in my opinion.

I knock back a few shandies while I start to write this blog. (Explains a lot, I can hear you say) and I start to panic about providing a photo to accompany the piece. I detest photographs of myself, especially now with my unkempt lockdown locks, and I try to think of clever ways around this. As life is lacking a bit of escapism right now, I decide to liven my blog up with a healthy jolt of pure fantasy.

I have already decided to show you my dream office above (much more aspirational than the real thing) and I decide on a similar approach to my profile picture. It’s my blog. What can they say? After some consideration, I decide I’d like to look effortlessly cool and blindingly charismatic, selecting legendary French actor Jean Paul Belmondo as my stand-in. But as my blog has been all about the truth, I have also included a photo of horror legend and ‘Casablanca’ villain, character actor Peter Lorre (who I resemble much more closely).

[Fantasy photo – Actor, Jean Paul Belmondo]

[Somewhat closer to reality: Actor, Peter Lorre]

FINAL THOUGHTS (TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY)

Right now, I’m watching or rewatching my way through a lot of Vietnam war films and documentaries. (Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, The Deer Hunter to name a few) Following the recent V.E day celebrations, these films have given me a new sense of perspective.

We’re in extremely tough times, there’s no question, with many challenges ahead, but at least we’re not at war with each other. We are truly all in this together and when you look at recent months this way, life in lockdown isn’t so bad. I realise how lucky I am to be safe and well and have a job that keeps me busy and productive. Yes, life is on hold for a bit, but I plan to enjoy it so much more when we get back to normal.

 

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