Getting back to Business safely during Covid 19


The Government published their Covid-19 Return to Work Safely Protocol on May the 8th. Irish owned company Coalesce has been assessing with their photographers and videographers, how they will work under this protocol with clients as the economy starts to reopen and Government restrictions ease.

Since March we’ve kept communication lines open with clients. Our photographers have worked on press shoots for clients and also minimised their travel by using family models and in some cases shooting virtually.

While our videographers have used remote video to create corporate video which connects our clients to their staff and customer base and keeps everyone safely at home, including the videographer.

Even though our staff and creative business partners have been able to travel to take images to accompany press stories and media releases, they have restricted movement as much as possible.

Now as restrictions gradually begin to ease clients will hopefully be able to increase their movements from 5km up to 20km radius of their homes and meet with up to 4-6 individuals who aren’t family members in an outdoor location. This opens the door for further opportunities in corporate and public relations video and press and pr photography shoots.

Since the start of Covid-19 restrictions our staff and business partners have had to adapt our behaviour and procedures to protect us and our clients. Contact logs and the monitoring of health have become the norm, as has proper hand and respiratory hygiene.

Now as we begin to move around more with Phase 1 and hopefully Phase 2 our Covid-19 Business Plan has had to adapt further. Event booking procedure has changed. There are more questions to be asked in advance of the shoot and less time allowed for shoots to limit contact time with people who are not your family members.

Shooting and filming outdoors makes the process much simpler and at the moment Irish weather has facilitated us with blue skies and lots of sun. At some stage though we may have to enter a client’s site and it’s this scenario we’re looking at in our current risk assessments and this article.

To keep it simple we’ve picked a simple scenario. As events will not be happening for the foreseeable future we are looking at a site visit involving a maximum of three people and the photographer or videographer.

We’re asking how can we get Coalesce photographers and videographers on a site safely and how can we limit our contact with our client and their staff when we are on site to protect everyone.

We’re also going to look at the use at PPE and the challenges this poses for the photographers and videographers at Coalesce.

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Planning your Shoot

Pre planning is everything during Covid-19. When a client books a shoot it is essential they plan all aspects of how the Coalesce photographer or videographer is going to carry out their work on their site. The Coalesce team can help you with this.

Grainne Doyne our specialist in Operations, Quality and Projects is our guide on all aspects of a site visit and the risks involved. She has been working with co-founder and Lead Worker Representative for following the Covid-19 protocol, Orla Murray to ensure that at all times Coalesce is adapting to follow Government guidelines and protecting everyone; their staff, business partner’s and clients.

Grainne’s experience is at senior level management within the healthcare/hospital/life science and pharma sector working with single and multi-site teams.

Among Grainne’s areas of interest are operations, process development and problem solving. She has the perfect skill set to create and manage visits to sites during a health crisis.

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Our Covid procedures are the reason why everyone at Coalesce and their business partners have had to monitor their health on an ongoing basis and will complete a back to work form three days before they are due to attend any photography or videography event.

Our clients will now be asked before we arrive on site what their Covid-19 protocols are and what we need to do to adhere to them. These are in addition to our own procedures that we at Coalesce have drawn up as part of our Covid-19 Business Plan.

We will ask questions like how many people will be on site at the time of the visit? Is there a clear path for the Coalesce operator to enter and leave the building and what planning is in place to facilitate the setup and the process of the shoot? Grainne and Orla will help our clients in the pre-planning of all these operations.

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Arrival at a client’s premises

While we will be completely guided by the client on how we are to enter the building. All contact with surfaces will be minimised at door and touch points in the building and even when waiting in a room or space.

Hand sanitiser will be used on entry and after any instances where we have come in contact with a surface on site.

We have a contact tracing system in place in our company Coalesce and we understand how important it is in relation to working in a Covid19 environment.We would advise Coalesce staff and partners not to use touch screen sign in and to use their own pens.

Our staff and business partners will bring their own water containers and will not fill it up on a clients site or eat any food on site unless it is their own. If an identity badge is needed we would ask that the person handling it first uses hand gel before placing it on a surface where we can after practicing good hand hygiene, can then put the badge on ourselves.

Our gear is heavy, and can be difficult to transport using stairs, but we will avoid lift transport unless absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, we will not be sharing the lift with anyone else and minimising all contact with lift buttons or touch points.

When we set up on site we do not need anyone else in the room. If furniture needs to be cleared back we would ask this is done in advance. A video call can be made so we can review the site remotely in advance if needed. All of this can be determined in pre-planning.

We have long lenses to keep our distance. The room or space should be large enough to facilitate social distancing of 2m or more at all times and well ventilated.

It’s not normal for us at Coalesce to shy away from the chat and fun side of our job, but unfortunately this is the new normal. Our models or anyone participating in the video or photography shoot only need to enter the space when we are ready to shoot. They don't need to come in and have a chat first.

Ideally we want to keep the time in the room together down to 15mins or as little time spent together as possible. To help them get into position we may place markings on the floor to guide them and all our communication skills will be tested while we correct our subjects poses from a distance.

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The use of PPE

As part of this new normal all our staff and business partners carry hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes as part of their kit. PPE is also available, in particular in case one of our staff members or business partners takes ill on site and needs to be isolated.

One of the biggest issues that showed up in all of our risk assessments has been around the use of PPE. While you can’t beat proper hand and respiratory hygiene to protect against Covid- 19, a mask will offer protection to those around you especially on busy sites.

Wearing a mask as a preventive measure during a shoot could pose more of a risk to our photographer or videographer than protection. Our camera’s spend most of their life moving between surfaces and up against our face. A mask is compromised if you are constantly touching the front of it. So our cameras will be receiving a lot of TLC and disinfectant wipe downs on site so we can mask up and keep everyone safe.

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Microphone and sound are also a big challenge. Where possible remote recording should be used, especially in the case of a voice over. This also applies to any video content that we can shoot without the subjects leaving their home and using our remote video service.

If we do have to go on site to record getting a lapel microphone on a subject up for a shoot, is another big challenge. While hand hygiene is compulsory, it still involves close contact.

Even doing a handover using gloves or hand hygiene still presents significant risks so we would prefer to work around it. We can, in some instances use a boom pole and hold the mic over the subject, but if we had to use a lapel mic it would involve a handover similar to the identity badge.

After practicing good hand hygiene with a disinfectant gel, a clean mic will be placed on a surface 2m away from a client. The client will then be asked to use a hand gel as well before they handle it and clip it on

They can also if they wish use gloves in conjunction with hand hygiene, but gloves should be applied and disposed of after each use safely following HSE and WHO guidelines. This process or hand over will have to be repeated when they remove the microphone as well. Again all of this would need to be discussed in pre-planning.

In order to make sure our photographers and videographers are well informed around procedures and protocols we will be doing regular training to keep our skill sets up to date in relation to any changes in protocols.

Again as mentioned before staff and business partner's will fill out their contact tracing logs on completion of a shoot, clean down the equipment ready for the next shoot. No staff member or business partner will be cleared to do another shoot if their log is not up to date.

And that’s a wrap!

While the photographs and video will still remain to the same high quality, more time and effort will go into the pre-planning of these shoots, but as I said at the start we're here to help you with this.

So subscribe and connect with Coalesce to see keep the conversation and the ideas flowing.

About Coalesce Creatives

Coalesce is made up of an Irish group of experienced and quality creatives who collaborate and all work under the same set of quality standards in the areas of corporate and pr video and photography. Our clients range from charities and government bodies to large corporate bodies, startup's and SME's.

Our vision is simple.

We believe that together we are stronger.

We believe in creating a new way for individual creatives to come together, become stronger and create exceptional work.

We believe collaboration, innovation and education will strengthen our creative community and create a long-lasting coalition.

Individually we are remarkable; together we are exceptional.