Flow Communications

Congratulations, South Africa, we’ve made it this far into the national lockdown – and, like you, we’re itching to do more than just head out on supply trips to the grocery store!

Our team has been writing about its lockdown experiences in a document we’ve named “Flowrona”. This diary was started before the national lockdown began on 27 March 2020, though, as Flow staff had already been working remotely since 17 March 2020.

In this journal, we share some of our daily struggles with working off-site. But, more importantly, there are also some really positive and humorous tales that have emerged.

Here is a peek into some Flowstar lives during the lockdown.

On Tuesday 17 March 2020 we were trying to get used to the idea of remote working ...

Caroline Smith: “My body thinks if I am home, around 2pm is nap time – this is not a challenge I ever experience at the office.”

And many were happy to skip the daily commute in peak-hour traffic – like Mercy Moyo:

“It was very nice to not be stuck in traffic for one hour 45 minutes, but being alone and not able to share a joke takes getting used to.”

Thrishni Subramoney and Pakamani Nombila reminded us about the importance of interacting with people, even when working from home:

Thrishni, referring to a Google Hangouts staff meeting: “I interacted with 51 people today. One of them sneezed twice, their face much closer to mine than the regulation 2m. Look, to be fair, people have sneezed in my vicinity hundreds of times and I mostly don’t even notice. But in this weird post-apocalyptic world where people hoard hand sanitiser, it was all the confirmation I needed that this experiment [working remotely, pre-lockdown] is already achieving exactly what was intended.”

Pakamani: “I spoke to my granny who is isolating in Australia. Other than that, a very weird day today as no one is outside. It’s all calm and collected, except my housemate, who’s trying to locate a good workspace around the house.”

Sarah-Jane Viljoen’s entry gave some insight into parents all over the country who were suddenly trying to homeschool/control their kids and still work a full-time job:

“Four-year-old Abby for the 20th time that day: ‘Mom, sorry to interrupt your work but I have a question.’ Me: ‘Yes, Abby?’ ‘Zac stole my bunny.’ Me: ‘That is not a question, Abby.’ Abby: ‘But when are you done working?’ Me: ‘I will come and have lunch with you in an hour.’ Abby: ‘How long is an hour?’ ... ad infinitum. Cut to me: ‘GO AND DISTURB YOUR FATHER!’”

On Wednesday 18 March 2020, Richard Frank reminded us of the stark economic reality of the Covid-19 pandemic:

“Still wake up at 5am every day – can’t adjust my sleep patterns yet. I watched Richard Quest on CNN and I’ve never seen a business show like that before – there is blood on the floor out there.”

And on Thursday 19 March 2020, we all found out there was a new Flowstar who none of us had ever met. We’re still not 100% sure he’s real, though:

Gustav: “This working from home thing rocks. I can drink beers in the morning without my boss seeing me (at work I have to ‘go to the toilet’ to do this).”

We also introduced a new initiative to keep our Flow family connected during remote working – each person is allocated a daily buddy, and they get in touch to chat and check in, ensuring that we maintain social contact:

Roy Barford: “The Flow buddy idea is a great initiative – I really enjoyed catching up with Fabio [de Abreu] and chatting about life beyond the conventional workspace. I look forward to chatting to more colleagues in this way.”

And Flow expanded its offerings, and started marketing and distributing this product:

Wipeout Whats App

Just before the official national lockdown set in on Friday 27 March 2020, things got real for some Flowstars:

Chad Soo: “Lots of admin today; installed my backup internet and named the 5GHz, “The speed is strong with this one”. Had to climb onto the roof to do the install. Looking at general usage, the internet in the country is starting to feel it. Stability over the next few days will be the determining factor.”

Allison MacDonald: “Stocked up today. Jissis. People are aggressive, hey? Saw a man and a woman at Colourful Splendour Nursery almost come to blows over a six-pack of Brussel sprout seedlings. Did not know whether to laugh like a drain or cry like a baby.”

Aaaaaaand, sneaking in just before the lockdown began, a very special event took place:

Got married yesterday,” said Grant McMullin on 26 March 2020.

Grant image

Flowstars soon started getting used to lockdown life:

Willem Steenkamp: “The silence in my neighbourhood is freaking brilliant! It’s as quiet as it usually only is at 4am. It really shows just how much ambient noise we constantly live with.”

Ros Caboz: “Just done a 30-minute walk with dogs around the garden. Busy day at work again – it was nice to be back in contact with everyone today [via Google Meets].”

Saajidah Suliman: “We started ‘school’ today, so my twins had circle time and were entertained via Zoom with their teachers (soooooo loud a bunch of five-year-olds can be!). HATS OFF to all teachers, because I suck at homeschooling altogether.”

On 14 April 2020, Daya Coetzee revealed how she’d been keeping busy ...

“Lots of time weeding in the garden. I started watching Tiger King, I cooked, I cleaned, I tried to spark some joy in my home and mostly managed. I meditated, I chilled. I shopped – which was stressful. I am quite happy not to have to leave the house at all at the moment. When are they going to have online shopping that doesn’t have a three-week wait?”

… while Allison showed us how resourceful we can be:

  1. On cooking: swap out recipe ingredients. We were yearning yesterday for lamb curry. But we had no stewing lamb, no masala, no dhanja, no basmati rice. So we swapped the first three ingredients for a tin of Koo baked beans. And we swapped the last ingredient for a couple of slices of toast
  2. On exercise: forget route marches around the garden (boring), lifting little dumbbells until your arms ache (tiresome), or running on the spot (daft foolishness). Instead, turn on your favourite music and dance (like nobody’s watching) in the living room for 20 minutes. We recommend Iggy Pop; Burning Down the House by Tom Jones (and the Cardigans); and Jim Croce’s Leroy Brown
  3. On life’s simple pleasures: those little chocolate Lindt bunnies are best served dumped into a cup of hot coffee, then scooped out by finger when the coffee’s done. Most of humanity’s best inventions are happened upon by (literal) accident

… and Nicole Ellis reminded us to be grateful for the small things in life:

“During the week, all these social interactions and meetings with Flow really do help. We were asked during Thursday’s meeting to share something that we’re grateful for, and I only thought of it afterwards that I’m honestly so grateful to be part of this team during this time. The support and the social engagement are so good.”

And as they say, that’s all (for now), folks!

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