NAVA+ and COVID-19: A Chat with Brian Estes part.2
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NAVA+ and COVID-19: A Chat with Brian Estes part.2

This article is a continuation of NAVA+ & COVID-19: A Chat with Brian Estes (1)



Our chat progressed nicely. 


Having passed the half hour mark of our telephone interview, we had already touched base on how NAVA+, as a locally based agency, had reacted to the COVID-19 pandemic in its first few weeks of transmission in Indonesia. 


The answers provided so far had given me an interesting insight into how woefully unprepared the whole world, including the Indonesian creative industry, had been. No sooner had NAVA+ started to organise working from home schemes in response to the pandemic, the situation deteriorated rapidly with government regulations enforcing the closure of all non-essential industries. 


However, Brian had also given me insight into the ingenuity of everyone involved at NAVA+. Having spotted and identified the problems early on, Brian and the rest of the board have reacted swiftly to ensure the safety of employees and the satisfaction of clients. 


Tell me more about Agile. 


It developed very quickly, and the whole premise of the initiative was to solve the problem of how can we be with our clients, help them think through and look for alternate channels, alternate opportunities to enhance or improve their products. 

At the same time it was also about finding who can we approach that we’ve always wanted to speak to in the past or we hadn’t really thought about, and doesn’t hurt to knock on their doors? Put simply we prepared a personalised forum platform that will give clients an hour of our time free of charge where we would happily to sit down and talk, and see whether we can come back to the client with something.

Look, I mean, I don’t think it’s going to make billions and billions and billions of rupiah, but I think if it…you never know, it’s open to the ones that we wouldn’t normally be able to approach, and there are some things that have come out of it, and we’re hoping this will develop further relationships for the future, when things do go back to normal.

How have you been handling this crisis as Director of Corporate Affairs?


Very carefully and working closely with my partners and senior leadership team. There are many aspects to be considered from a Corporate perspective during a crisis, including Business Continuity, legal issues, public relations issues and most importantly – employee concerns and communications.


How do you see matters progress? When do you think is the realistic timeframe before things revert back to ‘normal’?

The million dollar question! Generally I am an optimist, but I am a pessimist when it comes to these types of conditions as it is largely out of human control. WFH and social distancing can help, but we are at the mercy of the virus for the time being. I believe Indonesia is particularly challenging with the very large population and the need to keep some type of business moving forward. However, there may come a point whereby risks will be needed and we will all have to get back to work. Not exactly the same parallel, but even the Brits were working during The Blitz in WWII.


Thinking about the future, how do you think the whole working culture at NAVA+ will change after the pandemic?


I believe we will have a new culture. Working from Home has been a very interesting experience. Most of us believe that we work, in many ways, more focused and much more effective than when we are working in the office environment. It is perhaps possible that we will initiate working options for some employees to work from home, as has been prevalent in Western Markets for many years. I would also foresee and new dynamic of conference calls internally, even when you are in the office. I would go as far as to say that this will have a permanent change for the better when things go back to “normal” conditions.


How about you personally, Brian? How have you handled all these new changes, as well as working from home?


I think, as soon as I was able actually to get my family not going to school, people not going out, really battened down in the house, then, y’know, it was like, OK, I don’t need to worry about my immediate family, I can worry about my NAVA+ family, put my attention there. 


So yeah, I mean I’m going through just what everybody else was going through. It’s a new way of living, as you know your family very well, but you get them better (laughter)


I think the first week or two was a big adjustment, but… 


That was the eighteen-hour days you were talking about, I guess?

It was indeed! 

But I think the key is really having a routine. So, I get up at the same time every day, I shower at the same time, pull down my business clothes…y’know, the kids…they get ready for school, and they’re in their rooms and my partner works in the front part of the house, and I work in the other side of the house, and…I think that’s healthy. So we’re not slobbering around wearing our underwear and T-shirts and you’ve gotta have a mindset, and you’ve gotta have a routine, so I think that having got into a routine, things got, a lot better. 

But I think, the other thing is that working at home can be incredibly productive, yeah? I think what I find is, when you’re in the office and you’re trying to have a meeting, you tend to always always have some interruptions. Emergencies can pop-up from anywhere. 

But from home, when you have a call schedule, you just have to be able to call, y’know, there’s no choice. If the calls at three o’clock, you got to be there at 2.59, right? It’s not like, where it’s a little bit more easygoing in the office. 

However, the danger of working at home is because you don’t have a lot to do, you end up spending more time on the computer, and you can actually burnout. In my case, the first two weekends, I worked the whole weekend, because I needed to. I mean there were so many issues and things, questions needing to be answered, challenges needing to be addressed by myself and the team, and my partners. But after two weeks, I just said, I can’t work on the weekend; I can if there’s a crisis, but I have to shut off on Friday evening because, y’know, one needs to stay sane, right? 

I think that’s that, Mr. Estes. Thank you so much for your time. 

You’re very much welcome. 



Born and raised in the U.S.A. Brian graduated with a Master’s degree in International Journalism from Baylor University. After his graduation, he later moved to Indonesia, where he has since chalked up three decades of working experience. In 1999 Brian co-founded Brainstorm Communications. He was subsequently instrumental in helping to orchestrate the simultaneous merger of Brainstorm Communications, Advisindo Artistika and DDB International to become DDB Indonesia where he served as Managing Director in 2001. In 2009, Brian helped found NAVA+ Group with David and Maneha. Brian’s varied brand experience includes airline services, as well as consumer goods, technology, medical & consumer goods, and the alcohol beverage category.