ViacomCBS' tools and tips for working at home in Covid-19 lockdown

By Jenni Gilbert | 18 March 2020

As the industry directs staff to work at home, keeping remote teams connected, cohesive and motivated is crucial.

One of the first to order work from home, ViacomCBS' office in Sydney's Darlinghurst - the base for about 120 employees working across the MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and Spike businesses - launched tools and policies to keep its remote workforce ticking.

"We utilised Microsoft Teams across MTV, Nickelodeon, Shared Services and management for video conferencing and messaging and we're piloting remote editing platforms to ensure content production work flows are not interrupted," a spokesperson says.

"All Monday morning stand up meetings shifted to video up format.

"Best practice guidelines were shared with all staff, they were upskilled on the use of video conferencing platforms and provided with 24/7 tech support.

"We encouraged all team members to utilise the `availability' function to set working hours (and, so, avoid being always ‘on’).

"There was a daily 9 am check in among sales team members – to set the agenda for the day, co-ordinate activity and actions, as well as create a sense of normalcy by starting the day seeing each other’s faces.

A dedicated COVID-19 resource portal is available on intranet, that includes tips and check lists for working remotely, resources on managing stress and anxiety, and updated health information.

"We also took our regular wellness sessions offered to staff virtual, working with vendors to provide video-based exercise, mindfulness and meditation classes.

"And we exploring ways to convert the regular Friday afternoon drinks trolley and raffle in to a virtual experience!"

"As a result of these measures, all linear television channels and digital and social platforms programmed out of the office are fully operational and have continued operation without interruption.

"Clients serviced by teams based in Darlinghurst include advertisers, distribution partners, music labels, production partners, promoters, licensees, retailers, and more."

Says Ben Richardson, SVP/GM of Pay Networks, ViacomCBS Networks Australia and New Zealand: “Staying focused on keeping staff healthy and safe is our number one priority, and we’ve seen remarkable adaptability by our team in response to shifting to a remote working environment.

"Staff have embraced the platforms we are providing to maintain productivity and keep a ‘business as usual’ approach, which is encouraging.”

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