Today’s Office: Advantage Advertising’s Toufic Beyhum on navigating the new normal in Namibia

Toufic’s standing desk, “overlooking all my beautiful creatives in the studio”

Thanks to the pandemic, the world of work is changing – and it looks very different depending on where you’re based. In The Drum’s new series, Today’s Office, we ask adland to share what these new normal routines look like. This week, Advantage Advertising’s creative director Toufic Beyhum tells us how lockdown in Namibia was short-lived, and how he never became a fan of brainstorming on Zoom.

I’m back at the office already, and have been since mid-April. Thank God!

We only had a three week lockdown here, very early on in March, so I’m at my standing desk every day, overlooking all my beautiful creatives in the studio.

Namibia was never really hit that hard, to be honest, so other than not being able to travel abroad, having to homeschool the kids and the whole annoying thing of writing your name and sanitising your hands before going into a shop, it has been pretty much ’normal’ for us here.

So I’ve been in the office at 8am, as normal. And, as normal, I head home some time in the early evening, whenever I can get away. The only thing that’s different is that I don’t go out for lunch as much – just because signing in and sanitising everything all the time has taken a lot of the fun out of eating out.

It was nice, during lockdown, to be at home and eating with my family, although I did find myself sneaking out at the weekends to go play tennis with a friend, which involved climbing over a fence to get on to the court. So gangster, right?

During lockdown, I couldn’t really take to brainstorming on Zoom. So I told my team that, if they were happy to, they could come over to my place and we could all sit in the garden, two meters apart, and do some brainstorming face-to-face. So they all did that and we had so much fun, and it was very productive too.

The challenge is coming up with ideas that don’t involve crowds, shaking hands or travelling far. And that is particularly challenging in this region. But I’ve managed to stay inspired in the same ways I always have – by the people around me, by music, photography, books, documentaries, going out into nature. And I’ve been taking pictures whenever I can – mostly out of the city and mostly still life or landscapes.

The only thing that is missing is not being able to go out into the world and be inspired by other cultures, or go to international art fairs and shows. I’m optimistic that that will all happen again soon, though.

Toufic Beyhum is a creative director at Advantage Advertising in Namibia, a photographer and impassioned advocate for side projects.

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