M2A Operations: Locked Down But Not Out

This article was written by Matt Dellowe, Head of Operations, M2A Media.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog about the role our Media Operators play in delivering high profile news, TV shows and live sporting events to our clients’ customers around the world over the Christmas season.  While most of us are tucking into our turkeys and nursing sore heads from the festivities M2A Media Operators are diligently supporting our live video products, which service global sports rights owners and broadcasters. Enter 2021 and the world looks like a very different place.

As we enter a third national lockdown due to COVID-19, many companies are continuing, understandably, to struggle running ‘business as usual’ operations, with numerous companies being forced to take severe cost cutting measures just to make it through this prolonged ‘period of uncertainty.’ 

Given the nature of our business it was imperative, when the Covid crisis hit, that we were still able to deliver the first-rate, 24/7 Operations service and support that our clients rely on 365 days a year. 

To ensure business continuity we at M2A had to make a number of changes. Within three days of the first national lockdown in March 2020 we had enabled all of our 24/7 Media Operators to work remotely from home and continue to provide the same high level of support to our customers, with the ability to access all of the tools and systems that were available to them in our Central London MCR. Here’s how we did it…

Every Cloud…

All of our products and services run in the AWS Cloud, including the majority of the monitoring and operations tools used to maintain them. Therefore, organising secure, remote access to these systems for Operations staff was relatively straightforward. They were very quickly able to access all of the same operational tools and services that they use in our MCR and we made sure they had all the necessary equipment and office furniture to ensure they would be just as comfortable working from home as they would be in the office.

We also use a wide selection of comms tools such as Slack, Teams, Google hangouts, Discord and Talkback to keep in touch with each other and our customers, and importantly, we visit a virtual pub for the quiz night on Fridays. It’s not as good as a trip to our local Craft Beer Co, but these are tough times we’re living through and sacrifices need to be made. And for those team members looking to maintain a healthy balance, our weekly Zoom Yoga classes have been popular.

In many cases we’ve seen an increase in productivity with Media Operators working shifts from home, as it enables staff to maintain a healthy work/life balance, whilst still covering the 12 hour shifts needed to provide our 24/7 Operations service. 

In my view, the main shortcomings of running Operations remotely are; poor home broadband connectivity, mainly affecting staff living in rural areas and simply being unable to have face to face meetings.

Innovation from adversity

Whilst the Government was ‘following the science’ our clients started following a variety of cool new live events to maintain customer satisfaction during the first lockdown.

We saw the introduction of brand new e-Sports, a virtual Grand National and we also live streamed several world class chess tournaments, which were surprisingly gripping! 

It wasn’t long before live sport returned in June.  In fact it came back very quickly and at an epic scale across Europe, at which point the M2A Operations team was at the ready to scale services back up. Due to our live streaming services audiences were able to ‘stay at home and save lives’ and still enjoy the thrill of live sporting events once more.

Is this the ‘new normal’? Will we continue to work remotely 24/7?

Whilst the vaccine is rolled out nationwide, I guess we’ll have to wait and see.   What is clear is that the M2A Operations team continues to live up to its good reputation, guaranteeing the availability and quality of live streams and VOD assets for our customer’s global audiences and maintaining the operational integrity and continuity of all of M2A’s applications, systems and services.  

It may be a very different world to the one I wrote about in 2019, but I’m pleased to report it’s ‘business as usual’ at M2A Media.

If you’d like to learn how M2A Operations help secure broadcast operations for major global brands 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, get in touch.