Month: March 2020

Business as usual while working from home: Tips for embracing agile working

by Louise Sharp |

As coronavirus dominates the news, and governments make decisions about protecting our health and wellbeing, many companies are imposing travel bans and recommending a work from home policy.

Agile working models are becoming increasingly popular and, amidst this current health situation, I have been reflecting on the pros and cons of working from home and the journey that we have been on at @MakaraHealth, where we have been employing a largely remote-working set-up from the start.

It’s all about mindset

Having had many conversations over the years about agile working, my honest reflection is that it is quite simply down to mindset. If you want it to work, you can make it work. I feel just as connected to my talented team at Makara when I am working remotely, as when I am with them face-to-face. Here are my learnings from employing an agile working model:

1.Trust and empower people

Just because you can’t see your colleagues, co-workers or boss, does not mean you or they aren’t working! Presenteeism is hopefully becoming a thing of the past but, as working from home becomes more prevalent, we need to really think about our tone of voice when we talk about it. All too often ‘oh yes, they are working from home’ is delivered dismissively as if that person is less committed as a result of location. A culture of trust and empowerment is key to making the most of the benefits of working from home.

2. Stay connected and turn your video link on

You can be just as present while working remotely if you stay connected. Simply dialling into Zoom or WebEx meetings with your video link live so people can see you creates the next best thing to a face-to-face in-office meeting.

3. Make an effort

When working from home, you might not have that conversation in the corridor or at the coffee station but, with a little effort, structure and planning, you can have even more productive meetings. Set agendas, put shorter meetings into the diary (try 15 mins rather than 30), make the most of the amazing technology we all have access to. Agree how working from home will work best for your team and make an effort to stay in touch. For many, having the social interaction is a key part of their daily routine, so make it happen.

4. Take regular breaks

Without the distraction of an office environment, productivity can often be higher. However, taking regular breaks is just as important. It’s easy just to stay at your computer all day when you are working from home so try setting yourself reminders in your diary to take short breaks. If possible, get out at lunchtime, or work from different rooms in the house for a change of scenery. Finally, message or call co-workers to ensure you strike a balance – we’ve found that Slack helps us feel more connected as a team and it allows for the more informal catch ups we might otherwise miss.

5. Enjoy it!

Above all else, enjoy it. Working from home saves the commute and adds back precious time into your day.

#agileworking #healthcarecomms #workfromhome #businessasusual #agilethinking #coronavirus

The power of clarity in medical communications – practical tips for elegant copy

by Gillian Wain |

In medical communications, when trying to indicate a formal relationship between ourselves and a client or KOL, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of using pompous words or too many of them. However, using obscure or long words to impress (even unwittingly) usually has the opposite effect.

Your reader is likely to prefer Anglo-Saxon words to Latinate ones, as they are more natural sounding and less pompous.

For example:

‘We will get together at 6pm’ rather than ‘We will congregate at 6pm’ (‘to congregate’ is the Latin version of the Anglo-Saxon ‘to get together’)

However, it’s important to make sure that the structure and grammar are sound so that it’s clear that an educated choice to use Anglo-Saxon words has been made.

Something else that tends to creep in when trying to be formal is using too many words:

‘owing to the fact that’ – can be replaced with ‘because’ or ‘since’

‘had occasion to be’ – can be replaced with ‘was’

‘in this day and age’ or ‘at the present time’ – can be simplified to ‘now’ or ‘today’

or old-fashioned phrases:

amongst – can be replaced with ‘among’

prior to – replaced with ‘before’ and

whilst – replaced with ‘while’

When reading written work or emails through, it’s also worth looking out for obscure/stuffy words and overcomplicated phrases to see if there is a way to express them more elegantly without sounding too casual.

For example:

‘The meeting is scheduled to take place in London on Friday 14 March.’

Could be written as

‘The meeting will be in London on Friday 14 March.’


‘For your convenience I have set up an online poll and would be very grateful if you could indicate your interest in attending by completing your availability. Please click here to complete the poll:’

Could be written as

‘To assess availability of participants, please complete this poll:’

At Makara Health we employ senior medical writers with at least 10 years of writing experience who you can be sure will get the tone right. We also have a structured QC process on everything we write to ensure consistency and clarity. However, regardless of experience, it never hurts to ask yourself – could this be written more simply? Will I say more with less?