It’s not every day you’re told you won’t be coming into the office for the foreseeable future, that you won’t be seeing your colleagues face to face for weeks if not months. Much like the rest of the world, this is what the team at ITV Content Delivery were told only 6 weeks ago. Seems like so much longer owing to the amount of change we’ve all had to adjust to both personally and professionally.
About a fortnight before the lockdown was imposed, ITV Content Delivery proactively trialled working from home as a precautionary measure for one morning to see what systems could and couldn’t cope, which bought us about a week to put workarounds in place. Remote logins to edit stations meant that we could process Channel 4 content required for BritBox which launched at the start of April, as well as continue to perform film restoration work for the platform too.
As well as editing and restoration, we play a number of other business critical roles in order to ensure ITV remains on air, not least in making sure that topical shows like GMB and This Morning, which deliver the latest developments in the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, and ITV News are all available for catch up on the ITV Hub. These programmes and services have probably never been needed more in the history of ITV.
There’s a very good chance that any ITV content seen on TV screens and catch-up devices around the world has been processed by our team in Leeds. That means that we are still processing new content for transmission in the UK, as well as transcoding and delivering content via file to customers and broadcasters around the world.
The above functions can obviously be achieved by the ops team in Content Delivery working remotely from home, however when it comes to digitising content from tape and film, that can only be achieved by having a very limited workforce in the office. Our dedicated film transfer room is still in action, and we’re still digitising tape content in bulk. We’ve seen an increase in the number of requests to access content from ITV’s archive, this is because most new programme commissions are for content that can be made with responsible social distancing, where large crews can be avoided and where there isn’t a requirement for hair and make up which obviously impedes the 2 metre restriction.
In the current climate, a number of high profile live sporting events have been cancelled or postponed, including the Euros 2020, The French Open and The Tour De France. These postponements have left considerable gaps in our TV schedules, which has resulted in the requirement to further exploit content in our ITV archive.
Of course, we're not just catering for ITV's needs. We offer all of our services to external customers, many of whom are still coming to us during the lockdown asking for content to be transferred, restored and delivered, and we're still completing orders and meeting their deadlines.
A great effort has been made across the whole of ITV to keep the staff up to date and informed of the ever changing situation. In ITV Content Delivery, we’ve put extra thought and effort into ensuring that team spirit and morale remains high. Fika, our weekly group screen break where we chat and eat cake (introduced to the department by our Swedish manager Joanne Grundstrom) has been maintained, albeit via Google hangout (on a screen!), but it's still a great way to keep in touch with the team and to discuss what we’ve done away from work. We’ve also made sure to put time aside a few times each week to partake in quizzes, the highlights so far being guess the baby picture and guess the desk!
What the future holds is a known unknown for the time being. The team at ITV Content Delivery are keen to get back into the office and work alongside each other again as soon as possible. We’re still offering the range of services and products to our customers we did before the lockdown, and if you’d told us all those weeks ago that we would be able to achieve so much remotely the day after our working from home trial, no one would’ve believed you.
We will hopefully be allowed to resume normal business conduct, site visits, fika in person in the coming weeks and months, but until then, if we can help with anything please don’t hesitate to ask.