Elephant in the (Spare) Room

5 min read

Over the last three decades, The Chase has always had a physical presence. A bustling creative studio has always been integral to how we’ve worked. Designers working with Creative Directors and Account Handlers and Artworkers – all in one space.

With the ongoing global crisis, that way of working has had to change. The whole office is working remotely with various makeshift workspaces set up in bedrooms, kitchens, dining rooms and very occasionally gardens (in-between snow and hail showers) from our respective homes.

So, how does a studio that has always worked in the same room together, switch to working remotely overnight? From a logistical point of view, technology makes it pretty easy. Creative Cloud, Go to Meeting, Google Docs, One Drive, Outlook, Skype, Slack, Teams, TeamViewer, Trello, WeTransfer and Zoom are all programs that make remote working possible.

While this technology is fantastic at allowing us to carry on with as little disruption as possible, the change of circumstances is inevitably going to provide some unforeseen obstacles. We asked some of our staff to share their thoughts and discuss how they’ve adapted to the new working and living conditions.

I started documenting how things were changing a couple of weeks prior to lockdown and have continued to post a picture a day on Instagram @_mark_gill_ It’s a good way to stay creative, not go stir crazy and force me to do something with the hours outside. I’ve also recently started Tai Chi again after many years, turns out my neighbour is a retired barber and Tai Chi master. Result!

Mark Gill, Director, Chase Films

One of the first things I did after the lockdown was announced was buy some hair bleach. I thought, when better to make a risky fashion choice? They say memory your sense of smell are deeply connected — to me, chemical burn will always smell like lockdown.

Tom Harrington, Designer

The main challenge is surprisingly not the work itself, we’ve adapted to that quickly and easily, but it’s with my waistline. At my recent biweekly shop, which has turned into a military operation, all masked-up and armed with a hand gel, I decided I’d break all my promises of healthy eating and treat myself to 6 mini pork pies. Always a favourite of mine and they were on offer. I thought one for every day of the week (I didn’t count Friday – a remnant of a Catholic upbringing). Back on the safety of home soil I quickly unloaded. From then on, the great difficulty was getting past the fridge door when it wasn’t looking. They didn’t see the day out. I polished off the last one (I felt sorry for it) as the clock struck midnight. Ah well, maybe an extra lap around the block tomorrow.

Ben Casey, Co-Founder & Chairman

In order to stay sane away from work, I’ve been trying to use my spare time to learn new things (as well as binging The Sopranos). There are lots of online guides available, but I’ve found SkillShare a great creative resource containing classes on illustration, filmmaking, web development and more. Plus at the moment if you sign up you get 2 months free! Perfect for the lockdown period.

Gary Whitworth, Designer

I think we can all say that working from home is far from ideal and we would much rather be back together in the studio. The disadvantages in terms of practicality, loneliness, tech issues, mental health, increased stress, concerns about workflow have all been well documented and all had great suggestions on how to make things better but it’s not all bad news, there are even a few unexpected positives…

The lack of a commute: better for the planet, better for your wallet, better for your wellbeing, and who doesn’t want an extra hour in bed.

Focus: the things I miss most about being in the studio is the camaraderie, the banter and the ease of sharing ideas and working together. But, having spent quite a bit of time over the past few weeks being shut away in the spare room has probably improved my ability to focus on the task in hand, particularly where copywriting and strategic thinking are involved.

Feeling closer to our clients: we have been very lucky so far in being able to remain reasonably busy and you somehow feel a) more appreciative of the clients that are still continuing to give you work despite the challenges they are obviously facing and b) more concerned for those who have had to put projects on hold and whose businesses are obviously taking a hit.

The personal side of video conferencing: over the past few weeks we have met clients’ children, commented on their décor, heard about their partner out in the garden painting the pergola, queried why they had a poster of cheese on the wall behind them and been instructed by one client to turn up to the call with a drink in hand as it was Friday afternoon!

Richard Scholey, Creative Director

Living in a block of flats, below a family with a young child who I presume to be training for Riverdance, I’ve found that my noise-cancelling headphones are getting heavy use. Because of this, I would suggest that ‘noise-cancelling’ is one of the greatest and most important inventions of all time and should be made a human right at the soonest possible moment.

Aside from drowning out any of the sound effects that everyone being in all the time brings, it means I can easily focus without getting a headache before 10am. I can’t work in silence and, unless I’m writing copy, I needed something more than music, so I’ve found a renewed interest in podcasts. Sticking a podcast on in the background is not only good for reminding you what other people sound like but fills the void of general conversation from around the office. My go-to podcasts so far have been Ben Tallon’s Creative Cabin, the Desert Island Discs archive (there’s only one or two to get through!), Gossipmongers and some Off-Menu Podcast (when it’s getting closer to lunch or when I want to remember what it was like to go to a restaurant).

Ric Bixter, Designer

I think COVID-19, although such a terrible disease, has been such an important learning curve for us all. If we have to take anything good away from this terrible time, it would be that we have all worked so well together even though it has been at a distance.

I do believe we will come back stronger and better than we have ever been. I’ve been sending a morning email to the office each day and have been very impressed with the way they have been received and replied to.

I have tried to keep everybody’s spirits up, and, although I thought some of the emails were a bit boring (gardening, painting, cleaning all the things that you don’t want to hear about) I have had some of the best replies and laughs. I have always known The Chase is a great company to work for and I think they have looked after us all so well.

I’m very proud to be a Chasette and cannot wait until I get back to see my extended family again, I miss the banter and the laughs.

Sandra Kemp, Office Manager


Everyone at The Chase sends their best wishes and hope you are all staying safe. We’re looking forward to the day when we can welcome you back into the studio for a brew and a chat.

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Issue 1