Cliché alert – what a year it’s been. Or … has it? I mean, there’s a very solid argument for saying “eveything’s changed”, but in terms of how it’s actually felt, for many people it’s been groundhog day: get up, walk to the desk in the sitting room, work, do your allotted hour’s worth of exercise, keep your community safe, stay sane, eat, sleep – rinse and repeat.
As much of the population have gone through various types of lockdown and experienced extended periods of staying in our homes, many have noticed a massive surge in nostalgic hobbies – reconnecting with long lost friends, rewatching classic series while glued to the sofa, digging out childhood board games – basically, faced with an extended period of time in our own heads, we’ve had ample time to reflect on life, the universe and everything.
I’m usually happy to wave the bandwagon off into the distance, this particular year seems to have been built for reflection. So as we head towards the end of 2020, I’ve found myself thinking back to what Idenna was like at the beginning of the decade in 2010, and its journey over the years.
The second I thought about it, I instantly laughed because back then, the Idenna team was also working from home – plus ça change, right? But at that point, Idenna was an entirely different business. At the start of 2010, Idenna consisted solely of Tim and Mary Neale running a photography and PR business from their home, focussing on the public sector and schools. Idenna had emerged from Neale & Neale Photography: a partnership they’d maintained alongside their day jobs since the ‘80s. There was not only an office dog, but office cats, sheep and chickens.
Over the following three years, the team grew from two to five: Seb joined as a photographer and film-maker, and then I joined as a copywriter a year later – and having quickly demonstrated that I was definitely not a graphic designer, Yestin joined the team and has been saving my blushes ever since.
At around the same time, James Neale took his destiny into his own hands and made the leap from a longstanding career as Head of Creative at Pirate FM to found his own business: Wise Monkey Media. With Natalie Thomas and Sam Fack, James fashioned a bold new agency bursting with creative ideas for a roster of exciting clients.
You know it makes sense: in 2014 Idenna and Wise Monkey Media joined forces, and Idenna was reborn. The teams did all the stuff that new partners do – moved in together, made some exciting plans and joint purchases, adapted to support and grow each others’ styles and systems – and, dare we say it, even began to appreciate each others’ music tastes.
And from that point, Idenna has continued to grow. Over the years, the team gradually expanded to fifteen people. There’s been 3 offices, a good 4 or 5 organisation tools, some new faces (and old faces that have come back), lots of new systems and traditions. The daily stretch. Blouse of the Week. The weekly Ballot Box where we anonymously nominate our team members for their achievements and loveliness.
This year has forced changes which none of us were expecting. We’ve had to adapt to new ways of working, put together our home offices, get used to seeing each other in 2D more than 3D – but they’re all challenges which we’ve taken on with determination and a happy heart.
Idenna started off as a family business, and the overarching ethos retains a lot of that: we’re still a mutually supportive team that enjoy working together, care deeply for each other’s wellbeing and success, and support each other in our ups and downs. However, it’s evolved into a formidable community of diverse personalities and skills, with shared core values ensuring that as individuals and a business we’re constantly growing, getting bigger, stronger, adapting, improving – despite everything that 2020 has thrown at us.
So although ten years later, for reasons we couldn’t possibly have predicted, we’re working from home again – this time around it has a distinctly different flavour.
I’ve tried not to fall prey to too much pointless navel gazing – either in this blog or during 2020 overall, and hopefully this isn’t a mouth-sicky ”the real treasure was the friends we made along the way” kinda post.
But taking stock of the huge changes Idenna’s seen over the past 10 years helps us recognise not only what’s changed, but what’s endured over the last ten years – and also what we will take forward and aspire to for 2030.
This year’s taught us not to take anything for granted, and who knows – I suppose that there’s a chance we’ll be working from home in ten years’ time. But I can’t help but think that things will be excitingly different. Here’s to the future!