Running an Australian ad agency while in lockdown in Canada

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 3 July 2020
Matt Sallis

Matt Sallis was appointed CEO of Reprise in Australia, IPG Mediabrand's digitally-led full-service performance agency, at the end of January. 

He was previously managing director, Reprise Media, Canada, and before that group account director at Catalyst Canada. 

However, he and his family found themselves in lockdown in Toronto due to COVID-19. 

He’s been leading the business from there. Time difference of 14 hours from Sydney. Reprise has 120 plus people. 

"We were due to fly from Toronto to Sydney on April 4, about two weeks after borders closed and flights were shut down," he says. 

"My family and I have been living in temporary accommodation and hope to arrive in Australia in early August." 

Here he answers question for an AdNews WFH Diary

How are you dealing with the silence?

Although few and far between, the silence comes in pockets throughout the day. Early morning and before my twin daughters wake up, that is usually when I check my inbox over a strong coffee. Work, family time and silence is broken up throughout the day, as I have really taken this opportunity to enjoy meal times with the family. Summer has arrived in Toronto, so social distance walks around the neighbourhood are a good meditation style reset before I dive into an evening of video calls. 

What is the upside?

Overall, I have managed to spend more time during the week with my family. I have found that for my own mental health management, it’s important to find moments during the day to take my mind from the situations at hand. Longer daylight hours mean that I can sometimes log off to still enjoy some daylight at the end of the day. It has been obvious from the time that I joined the Australia business that we have wonderful and hardworking team members who are very supportive and understanding of the challenges we are all facing right now. Not to mention patience and support towards my family, as we find a viable route to Australia. 

The downside?

Working a split day is certainly challenging. Working in the morning and then reengaging in the evening is not easy. Logging off at night, is usually followed by a quick bite to eat and then straight to bed. Speaking of bed, I do all my work and take video calls from either my bed or at the kitchen table, depending if my daughters are sleeping in the next room. We are living in temporary accommodation which is certainly comfortable enough, just not an ideal set up for long-term work from home.

How are you using the commuting time saved?

Wow… commuting feels like a lifetime ago. To be honest, my schedule has changed so much in the past few months, I have lost track of longer or shorter working days. Though, I don’t miss the traffic, I do miss having a routine and the thinking time between the office and home.

I am looking forward to being back in the office because…

The operational shift to video conferencing across the globe has been truly remarkable. However, VCs obviously have their limits. Every time a call drops or the screen freezes, it’s super frustrating and I certainly feel bad for those on the other end. One of the things I love most about working in an agency office environment is walking into a meeting room of smart people and to be blown away by creative and data rich ideas that are still being brought to life on a whiteboard or over conversation. That really excites and motivates me. I love it!

 

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