• Play Retail Ltd.

WFH. Finding a Healthy Balance to Stay Creative.

Updated: Mar 12

Our Head of Design, Merlyn Gray, shares insights into finding a healthy work-life balance, keeping creative and maintaining strong working relationships with his team during lockdown.

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted our lives dramatically. Where we were once accustomed to a well-oiled routine, we are now faced with a chaotic work/home life balance.

Days become longer, the working day begins as you wake up and weekends seem to fade into the ether. The questions that formulate as a result - how do we get back to restoring the separation balance to keep us on track mentally and physically? How do we stay positive? How do we stop convincing ourselves that we need to "upgrade" every single item/space we have, starting with a new subtropical rainforest in the back garden?

Before the pandemic, my routine was very structured. I commuted to London three days a week which took two hours door to door. This gave me time to mentally and physically prepare for each day before I got into the studio. I could plan the daily design schedule and pre-empt key actions that needed to take place for the morning team briefing and client design reviews.

The return journey would be a chance to decompress, make notes and watch Netflix series I was too embarrassed to tell anyone about. This would prepare me to give my family 100% attention as soon as I got home.

The other two days a week, I worked from my home office. I am set up to work from home to break up the commute, later preparing me for when lockdown was implemented.

Now, entering the full lockdown phase of working from home. I was noticing that the lines that were usually separated so well, were becoming more blurred. It seemed that I was always available at work, never quite finishing off tasks and getting my laptop out at the weekend.

My kids are happy that I am home but cannot understand why I am locked away upstairs in the office for hours on end without playing or interacting with them. The sound of The Smiths creeping through the gaps in the door.

As with my work desire to analyse, streamline and improve, I wanted to implement a more structured routine where I could start being more efficient and give everyone, including myself, the best of me. In order to facilitate this, I stepped up my fitness game by going running during the week to stimulate the levels of endorphins created by exercise to give my decision making and creativity a valuable re-charge.

Next on the list was to include the family in preparing a schedule for when we can implement quality time to break up the working day.

As the benefits started to present themselves quickly, myself and the family started to feel more comfortable and settled with the daily routine and now it is a case of staying positive and proactive. Introducing home schooling activities for the kids, exercise and virtual pubs with our friends.

I decided to share my routine with you to give you some insight into my typical day.

Home life

06:00 - Get rudely awakened by the kids.

06:30 - Have a shower after being forced out of the bed by the kids wrestling on top of me.

06:50 - Feeding time at the zoo.

07:00 - Read the news, a quick scan through social media.

07:30 - Play with the kids, watch cartoons/BMX stunt videos with the eldest.

08:30 - Find places to hide around the house so I can catch up on the group chat in peace.

09:00 - Joe Wicks workout with the kids.

Work life

09:30 - Play BAU video call.

10:00 - Design work scheduling meeting.

10:30 - Spotify playlist selection (weather dependent) practise moon walking in my socks.

10:35 - Design work.

12:00 - Lunch with the kids (Gourmet homemade sandwich, bacon rashers, custard creams).

12:30 - Design work, catch up with the team's progress.

15:00 - Cup of tea (more custard creams).

15:10 - Spin the kids in daddy's new office chair.

15:20 - Design work.

16:30 - Sudden thirst for cold refreshing beer (manage to supress).

17:30 - Closing catch up with team and work submitted. Cold beer.

Home Life

17:40 - Playtime with the kids, usually football and bikes!

18:30 - Bath and bed for the kids.

19:30 - Go for a 6k Run.

20:00 - Cook/invent dinner with my wife. Clap for our carers.

20:30 - Video quizzes with Clare. Lots of them.

23:00 - Bed time


At Play we have adapted to the new normal with little disruption to our services or creativity. We implemented flexible working schedules for our staff to maintain positive work-life balance before the lockdown and therefore easily transitioned into remote working when we decided to temporarily close our London Studio.

While we are desperately looking forward to getting the team back together again soon, in the meantime we are all trying to strike a healthy balance between work, family and activity to keep us happy and above all, safe.


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