31 Mar 2020

How we're running RNZ from home

6:50 pm on 31 March 2020
Hamish Cardwell working from his laundry during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Note Hamish's wide range of laundry treatment options. Photo: Supplied

Hamish Cardwell ended up working in the laundry because he is self-aware. "I talk really f***ing loudly on the phone," he says.

The RNZ reporter knew that if he tried to squeeze onto the couch where two of his flatmates were furiously bashing at their laptops, or pulled up at the kitchen table beside another busy household member, relations in the 80sqm Wellington house would deteriorate the moment he made his first phone call.

So, with the household, and indeed the country, determined to make remote working amidst the Covid-19 lockdown succeed, Hamish dragged a stool into the laundry and set up his laptop on the lid of the washing machine.

But if you're troubled by how the ergonomics of working at a Fisher & Paykel Elba might affect Hamish's back (or how anyone in the house puts on a load of whites), never fear: Hamish is no longer laundry bound. He has rigged up a new work station in the miniscule spare room, where there is no whiteware but there is a clothes airer laden with laundry.

Hamish is one of the hundreds of RNZ staff who has cobbled together a home office in order to work remotely amidst New Zealand's Covid-19 level 4 lockdown. While the news media are an 'essential service', able to continue operating during the lockdown, RNZ has moved to get as many staff as possible working remotely.

There are now only a handful of people left in RNZ's buildings, and otherwise the website and radio stations are being run from our sheds, garages, bedrooms, gyms and gaming chairs.

RNZ Pacific journalist Talei Anderson working from her parents' garage during the Covid-19 lockdown

Zoom in on that make-do mic stand. Genius. Photo: Supplied

Talei Anderson is working from her parents' garage in Kaitaia, where she's fashioned a reading lamp into a mic stand, after accidentally leaving the real thing in the office. The RNZ Pacific sports reporter knew she had to set up away from the whare otherwise her young son would be hanging off her asking her for a snack every five minutes. So far, the garage has come up trumps: "By some miracle I can pick up the Wifi from inside."

Cole Eastham-Farrelly working from his partner's sewing shed during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The Bernina is shunted to the side to make way for RNZ work. Also, look at what Claire has on that second monitor. Fancy-as skills. Photo: Supplied

Claire Eastham-Farrelly has never been better situated to lose a button or encounter an unravelling hem. The camera operator/editor is working in her partner Summer's sewing shed, after her attempts to concentrate in the house were scuttled by their three small children. Claire and Summer only built the shed last summer and it's usually exclusively Summer's space. Claire has been warned not to make a mess.

Leilani Momoisea working from her husband's gaming chair during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Leilani Momoisea looking more comfortable than is fair. Photo: Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.

To video conference with Leilani Momoisea is to be filled with envy. The gently supported spine, the well-padded head rest - dang! The Communities Engagement Editor has acquired her husband's music studio/gaming set-up and is giving it rave reviews. "It's kind of the perfect set up for working from home - a really comfortable gaming chair, an extra monitor so I'm not just looking at my small laptop screen and some hearty speakers or headset should those ever be required." All in all an excellent deal for Leilani, though not such a great one for her husband, who has been relegated to the lounge.

Kate Newton records under a blanket during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Get into broadcasting, they said. Photo: Supplied

In Depth reporter Kate Newton is an incredibly good sort. She agreed to demonstrate for the camera how most of RNZ's reporters look at least once a day. Where usually we would record audio in a purpose-built booth, the best we can do at home to reduce sound reverberation is to burrow under a blanket. It's not glamorous and Kate would like the rest of RNZ to know they owe her for agreeing to be the face (not that you can actually see her face) of our blanket modus operandi.

Indira Stewart broadcasts from home during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Broadcasting from home is a weighty responsibility. Photo: Supplied

First Up presenter Indira Stewart is broadcasting her whole early morning show from her husband's weights room. "I've been recording interviews and voice-overs in my husband's home gym for about a year now so it hasn't been a huge adjustment," she says.

She bows down to RNZ's technical gurus for managing to get such good sound quality from the room, and says the only time you can tell she's not in a studio is when a large truck or bus thunders past.

Te Aniwa Hurihanganui working from her grandparents' shed during the Covid-19 lockdown

Te Aniwa Hurihanganui works amongst a shed load of family photos. Photo: Supplied

Te Aniwa Hurihanganui's whanau has nominated her to keep an eye on her grandparents and do their shopping and odd jobs during the lockdown. The family was keen for her to keep her distance though, so her grandparents would remain in their small bubble. The upshot? The reporter has converted their Masterton shed, which is covered in family photos, into both an office and bedroom.

Katie Scotcher works from a bedroom of her parents' house in Foxton during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Drink in the cute kitten then turn your attention to the excellent, hand-drawn RNZ sign. Photo: Supplied

RNZ reporter Katie Scotcher has ditched Auckland to set up RNZ's first Foxton newsroom in the spare bedroom of her parents' house. She is hot desking with a kitten who doesn't understand the concept of social distancing and holding out for rare quiet moments when her mother isn't playing Spice Girls and Cher to record her stories.

Corin Dann and Susie Ferguson broadcast from home during the Covid-19 lockdown

News meets domestic chic on Morning Report. Photo: Supplied

Morning Report presenters Susie Ferguson and Corin Dann are both broadcasting from home and owe a lot to manchester and soft furnishings. Susie's emptied the linen cupboard to cover her desk and filing cabinet in towels to dampen down the noise bouncing off hard surfaces. She's kept the domestic theme going with a laundry basket strategically placed to block the hallway leading to the make-shift studio to remind herchildren and Rainbow the schnoodle to stay away.

Corin's redeployed three mattresses to create make-shift studio walls and Stanley the dog is a broadcaster in the making, standing by waiting for his moment to shine.

Guyon Espiner works from home during the Covid-19 lockdown

Guyon and Nico are doing their best, but Boris remains unimpressed by their efforts. Photo: Supplied

Investigative reporter Guyon Espiner has several new co-workers, one who is particularly catty. Guyon is the most junior of the three desk mates, with Nico, 6, second in command, and Boris fulfilling the role of ultimate boss of everything. Boris decides if and when his team can work and blocks access to technology at will.

Boris puts the kibosh on another story

Impossible-to-please Boris spikes another of Guyon's stories. Photo: Supplied