Thanks to the pandemic, the world of work is in flux – and it looks very different depending on where you’re based. This week, Olga de Giovanni - global PR and communications manager at Ebiquity discusses transitioning from working out of her London pad to Italy’s Amalfi coast and back again. She also explains why she’s been chairing virtual yoga sessions for her friends.
After spending lockdown in my sweet little flat in London – where I am now – I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to work for the past two months from my home back in Italy, which is dotted along the countryside of the Amalfi coast.
During my time in Italy, my set up was quite rustic given that my family’s house is nearly 100 years old, with not an ergonomic chair or a fancy desk in sight. But my great grandfather’s writing desk in the studio was just perfect.
The view is incredible. The windows open onto the valley where you can see the sea, and the loud sound of crickets accompanies the whole scenery.
When I came back to London this month, I had to make some changes in the house and move a few things around, but I’m now quite comfortable.
However, I must admit that the biggest challenge to me has been the 'no - to - limited' human interaction everyone has experienced over the last few months and the unsteady internet connection that goes with it.
As part of my job, I have daily interactions with other teams worldwide, so video calls and live messages have been part of my everyday. But clearly, a friendly chat in the communal kitchen or a face-to-face meeting can’t be replaced by a Zoom.
My usual working day has always been longer than average – I’m not a 9am to 6pm person – so that’s remained the same.
What has changed is that my day now starts with a long run – yes, after more than five years out of the game, I’m running again. I guess I was ‘missing’ the challenge of commuting to the office, so I needed to replace it with a new one.
When I do get home after stretching my legs, I’m ready for the long day at my desk between zoom calls and emails. During my time in Italy these were occasionally interrupted by my father, who came with some fresh fruit or local sweets to make the long day a bit sweeter.
My daily routine has been completely flipped around. I was used to going to the gym either in the morning or in the evening with my friends, attend industry talks and events, and enjoy exploring new places in London. When I realised that it was no longer possible (at least not in the same way as before, as you now have to book a 'slot' to access the gym) I felt the need to organise something to interact with friends via zoom and book some time in my diary to do a different activity.
So, I decided to set up virtual yoga sessions to keep healthy and create a new sense of community among my friends. It is important to interact in a ‘normal’ way.
However, I have to admit that we often end up just chatting and doing very little exercise, but even then, it feels good to do something together without being physically together.
After being in this situation for more than six months, I'm now confident in saying that I've managed to find a balance between my personal and my work life. But it hasn't been easy.
When lockdown came into force, I found myself realising how terrible I was at saying ‘no,’ and even worse to keep on working and continuously look at my emails. But between my friends and my family, I slowly realised how important it was to close that laptop if I didn't want to burn out within a month - this situation was never going to be a sprint but rather a long run.
So, created a new routine to ensure that certain activities were happening in the week, and others only at the weekend.
The pandemic forced radical changes on humans and businesses like I've never experienced before and has accelerated changes that were already underway.
I reckon this new agile way of working, fuelled by human necessity, has allowed us to make the most of the digital world we live in.
Having said that, the new 'normal' that we are currently living is here to stay for some time, so we better plan and adjust. Currently, I am happy to stay home, but I would like to plan to go back to the office and book my desk for a couple of days a week.
The booking system the business has put in place made me realize how safe it is to go to the office. But as we are encouraged to work from home when possible, I am happy to do so. And I think many people will continue to.