Melbourne’s 4th lockdown: Is the industry handling it differently this time?

As Melbourne hopes to come out of its latest lockdown on Thursday, workers and residents in the state capital have been trying to stay positive this time around.

Have offices been approaching things differently this time around? And how are businesses helping their staff through this lockdown? Mumbrella asked some of Melbourne’s key industry figures on how lockdown 4.0 has gone so far.

IPG Mediabrands Australia CEO, Mark Coad:

“The mood of Melbourne is less concern around the need to work from home and more about personal matters this time. From a work point of view, we know the drill. We’ve got the systems in place and are well experienced in how to maintain quality output for our clients, as well as maintaining internal teamwork and comms. But at the personal level we were back into making plans – getting that wedding back in place, planning interstate holidays – and it is those areas that have been skittled by this lockdown. That’s where the main focus is for our people and that’s where the majority of our non-Vic national team members have empathised.”

Mark Coad

Hardhat co-founder and managing director, Justin Kabbani:

“Because we know that, particularly in Melbourne, disruptions are likely to be a feature of our lives for some time to come, our Hardhat hybrid approach means that whether we are in the office, at home or travelling, it’s business as usual. Our team has become pretty versatile at ensuring that the ‘show goes on’ in line with whatever restrictions may be in place – whether that be roadmaps, shoots, planning sessions or presentations.

There is no doubt that Lockdown 4.0 is very tough. Psychologically, I don’t think that Victorians have recovered from previous lockdowns and as such going from relative freedom straight back into full restrictions has been a huge mental blow. Our daily full-team check-ins are keeping us connected, we’re checking in on individuals and reminding them of the availability of our EAP. We’re actively encouraging open and honest conversations and really celebrating the big and small wins to make sure that positivity is getting its fair share of airtime.”

Justin Kabbani

Zenith managing director, Megan Kay:

“At Zenith we have snapped back into the rhythm of working from home quite seamlessly, helped by our agile mindset and flexible working framework, Publicis Liberté.

Our Melbourne team have become hyper-resilient due to the extensive amount of experience they have had with lockdowns. We continue to check in with our team frequently to ensure they have expert support, when and if they need it.

We also run a range of online all agency initiatives to continue to drive the connection and culture at Zenith.”

Megan Kay

Ryvalmedia managing director, Joseph Pardillo:

“While Melbourne lockdown 4.0 has caused disruption across the state, it’s been business as usual for the team at Ryvalmedia.

Last year’s lockdown was a bigger challenge but one that we overcame without breaking many strides, given that our agile working model was fortuitously born and fit-for-purpose in what was to become the operational norm for businesses in a pandemic.

As a digital-driven agency, the change from physical to virtual didn’t require a major adjustment, and the team adapted brilliantly. We are continuing to prioritise our team’s wellbeing, keeping them motivated and inspired through regular communication and transparency.

I also think it’s a moment in time where you can, more than ever, rally together with your leadership team to navigate things through as a strong collective – you can’t do it as a solo captain leading the charge through a screen. Being a virtual family is what times like this genuinely need, with team engagement across screen, iPad, phone, and everything in between. Great people, as much as superior capability, is the critical lockdown antidote.

Partnering with clients with empathy and a genuine human touch overrides any adversity. More than ever, clients want a true partner as an extension of their marketing team experiencing unprecedented disruption together.”

Joseph Pardillo

The Royals managing partner, Andrew Siwka:

“The initial ‘snap’ lockdown was managed pretty seamlessly from a process / operations perspective whilst mentally the initial seven-day period also allowed it to be compartmentalised as being ‘just a week’. However, the lockdown extension (and fluctuating numbers) has changed all that, with a notable increase in staff anxiety levels.

In response, we are now ‘gently’ reintroducing previous lockdown wellness initiatives, including regular manager check-ins, greater flexibility around workload and scheduled group connections – such as a daily ‘Wheel of Lunch’ where one Royal wins Deliveroo lunch every day.”

Andrew Siwka


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