Podcasting in cupboards and pet coworkers: What it's like running Mamamia in isolation.

Mamamia has returned to its roots.

We started as a one-woman workplace back in 2007, before growing into the more than 80-strong team we are today.

But since Monday March 16, 2020, we’ve all been working from home as fears of COVID-19 in Australia grow.

WATCH: Mamamia’s co-founder Mia Freedman’s thoughts on coronavirus. Post continues after video.

Video by Mia Freedman

But what’s it like to run a media organisation of this size, from the comfort of more than 80 different loungerooms? Particularly one that produces a hell of a lot of video and podcast content that necessarily requires a lot of… social interaction?

Well, firstly, let us introduce you to our at-home setups:

News Writer Chelsea McLaughlin and Amy Clark, Senior Lifestyle Writer.
Wookie minding Head of Video Sarah Dabro's at-home perch, and Albert ready to report for duty with Kee Reece, host of The Spill.
Ian The Quicky
Audio Producer of The Quicky Ian Camilleri and his high-tech set up.
Office Manager Lucy Neville, and Emily Vernem from the social team at their shared office, and Podcast Producer Lem's improvised footrest (aka, kid's toilet stool.)
Senior Sales Manager Laura Pulini's standing desk, and Commercial Editor Adam Bub's chair desk.
Grace and Hannah
Hannah Mansur from our Client Services team, and her trusty intern Grace.
Me, Senior News Writer, and my glow up from the couch on Day 1 to the room with a view on Day 2 after witnessing everyone else and their impressive set-ups.

So far, so good.

But not for our podcasters who have experienced the most upheaval.

Mamamia Out Loud co-host Jessie Stephens has been in self isolation for two weeks longer than the rest of us, after cutting a holiday to Japan short.

She's been dialling into the show from a linen cupboard on the NSW Central Coast. (You can read about how she went here.)

Now, with the rest of the team also officially working remotely, hosts are being trained to use microphones in a way that doesn't record an echo which makes for some interesting pillow forts/under-the-doona/inside-the-kitchen-cupboard situations.


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For our daily news podcast The Quicky, who are used to hustling 80+ case studies into the studio for vox pops, host Claire Murphy has resorted to asking people to record their thoughts into their smartphones and send them to her via email.

In editorial, we have the luxury of being able to write anywhere.

But we've had to change our daily pitch and content meetings, which are an important part of our day to set the news agenda and throw around ideas.

Now, after pitching our stories via Slack (an online messaging program), our editors jump on a Google hangout which according to Assistant Head of Content Jessie Stephens, none of them know how to work, and basically involves a whole lot of "having to see up Clare's nose the entire time" (Clare being Mamamia's Editor).


As a media company with a responsibility to report quickly and accurately as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, we're focusing on keeping our readers up-to-date with the news, but also entertained with the lighter stuff.

We're immersing ourselves in our readers' lives, as we try and work out what we ourselves want to be reading at this time of crisis.


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It’s like a bouquet of sunflowers in TV/movie form. Link in bio!

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Elsewhere around the office, our Office Manager is coming to terms with having... no office to manage.

Our Development team is loving the peace and quiet, with no one sidling up to their desk with shifty eyes and a broken laptop, and our Partner Solutions team has begun a mandatory daily 'healthy habits moment', putting the rest of us to shame. Yesterday was high knees, today is "cardio dance for beginners".

PAUSE: Can you tell The Quicky recorded this at home? Post continues after podcast.

Here's some of the feedback from the teams so far:

"Working from home hasn't been that much of an adjustment as I work on the social media side of Mamamia. I'm lucky in that I haven't had any logistical issues because of the digital nature of my job. The only difference is now that I'll have to change our TikTok strategy to self-isolation content only," Eleanor Katelaris, Social Team.

"So my husband walked through the background of our Google hangout meeting this morning... sans most of his clothes," Claire Murphy, Host of The Quicky.

"I'm getting a lot more editing done at home somehow. Fewer distractions I guess," Leah Porges, Podcast Producer.

"On Friday at 4pm everyone needs to have a drink and drop a selfie in here," Lucy Neville, Office Manager.

"Loving getting to hang out with my dog all day," Deborah Francis, HR. 

"I frightened myself on camera with bed hair and bad lighting," Sarah Dabro, Head of Video.


"Is that a kid in the background? Can we mute the kid?" Jessie Stephens, Assistant Head of Content. 

At the moment, it feels like a novelty, and we're living up to the challenge.

There's something nice about having no commute, living in socks and sandals, and suddenly being able to have lunch with your significant other or your housemates if they've also been sent home to work remotely.

We. All. Can't. Stop. Snacking.

There's also this amazing camaraderie that's seeping through the Slack channels of the Mamamia office as we set ourselves up to wait out the virus and help 'flatten the curve' while keeping everyone's spirits as positive as possible.

Snacks are helping. (Or hindering, depending on who you ask.)

TikTok breaks are also helping.

But as we all lug our comfy office chairs back home, share our snacking habits via Slack, and try to entertain our dogs and kids while working out the intricacies of digital meetings - we, like a lot of you - are still getting used to our new normal in the midst of an unsettling and somewhat scary time for our country.

One where a large majority of us are operating in isolation.

Are you working from home? How is your office handling it? Let us know in the comments below.

This article originally appeared in Gemma Bath’s weekly news deep dive email. You can subscribe right here.

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