Lockdown & Remote Work: How to Adjust to Working From Home.

COVID-19 lockdown has forced the majority of the workforce worldwide to work from home. Lyda Michopoulou is a freelancer and a member of Stone Soup coworking space. She has worked remotely since January of 2017, and she has long experience in distributed work. One could argue that being a remote worker, Lyda would have an advantage over other workers who were abruptly forced to change their routines. But let’s see to what extent this is true. 

Lyda will help us answer the question, whether working from home is the same as working remotely. She will also share her own experience.

Stone Soup Coworking Member

Adopting a work from home routine and how is that different?

Lyda considers herself lucky as she didn’t struggle much during this transition. Her life as a freelancer requires her to travel around Europe and work from different countries. One of Lyda’s consulting gigs is to an American startup in the travel industry called NextVacay. She is working on US time, following a specific time frame and specific online tools. For that reason, the processes and dynamics within the organization haven’t changed much with the lockdown. 

Because of the corona crisis, Lyda is telecommuting from home and she spends most of her time hosting or participating in online meetings. This has decreased her actual working time and disrupted her usual working routine from Stone Soup.

Lyda had a functional working routine for herself, allowing her to work from anywhere as long as the WiFi connection was strong.

Fast WiFi

 

However, working from home is completely different from working from “anywhere in the world”. Social distancing, the new norm that has been given to all of us, is hardly a gift. Being able to keep a working pace, your motivation high and your productivity under control can be compromised especially when you are forced to work without a suitable working environment. 
It is quite easy to fall into traps such as working all day long, without proper breaks or even realizing that your working time is up and you should relax. Lyda sees the value of participating in virtual coworking spaces such as Stone Soup’s and Digital Nomad Girls’ Inner Circle, in finding a sense of belonging and support. 

Online Meetups

How to do your best during the COVID-19 era?

Instead of isolating yourself at home binge watching TV-series and movies, you have the opportunity to do something to better your skills and develop yourself. You can host or join online meetings with friends (networking), figure out how to support others with the skills you already possess or participate in activities that are valuable for the community.

During the previous weekend, Lyda participated in an online hackathon, called: “Hack the Crisis Austria”. She mentored a team who was tackling a challenge: “How can we support the mental health of people”. Lyda has only positive feedback to give about it. It made her more eager to participate in a bigger scale and even think about organizing something similar in Greece.

Stone Soup Coworking Member

Shaping the future of remote work after coronavirus

The corona crisis has unprecedentedly escalated the need to work remotely. The situation might be temporary but it pushes the gears of change and those won’t come back. Companies keeping previously a negative pose to the idea, are forced tο consider continuing with remote work after the lockdown.

Having a global network of contacts, Lyda has heard discussions about the struggles of friends and partners and has acquired some interesting insights. Many companies don’t understand how to use the online world to better support their work. There was no time for guidelines and transitioning. A new culture and priorities need to be set on the go. And of course, this changes the balances and threatens the up to now acquired stability. Companies and teams are being troubled by basic aspects of functionality such as what would be the best way, time, frequency, and means to conduct online meetings.

The discussion moved from online meetings to how people handle the grief that comes with being locked inside their houses. Lyda’s perspective of the situation was altered due to an article on Harvard Business Review. If individuals and companies go through the stages of grief we will be ready to accept what lies ahead and work with that.

After the lockdown is over a changed situation and land of opportunities for digital nomads and remote work is to be expected. The ground will be paved for the companies to keep workers distributed. And they would most probably like to shape their businesses in a way they could cope with similar future situations.

Creative Innovation

COVID-19 and coworking in Athens

Are coworking spaces closed because of COVID-19?

Numerous countries around the world are in the beginning stages of managing their own outbreaks, in each country the situation is very different and governments make their own decisions about how they can deal with the virus best. In Greece, it’s been a week since most companies and organizations were instructed to conduct their businesses remotely.
It’s crucial that we all follow our country’s respective measures and instructions for our health and protection. Even if Stone Soup is not directly obligated to stay closed, we have taken all precautionary measures and since March 12th we are not accepting any new members. As all coworking spaces are based on the social interaction of their members, we have recommended to our members to work from home as much as possible.

Stone Soup coworking community

This abrupt lockdown and necessity to work from home, is disruptive and apart from having to recalibrate your tasks and your own workspace, you may also face difficulty to concentrate and a feeling of solitude. This is why coworking space operators are exploring how we could work together online and keep the human interaction alive. 

To keep the community of Stone Soup active we boost our communication on online channels like Slack. Feel free to visit the #westaytogether channel to get webinar invitations, to share things to do, to arrange video calls, to share yoga videos or to start a group for people to enjoy online video games together, and many more ideas. COVID-19 virus shouldn’t put the coworking spirit in Athens down!

Stay tuned ’cause from Monday 23rd and on, we will start our Virtual Coworking (VC) sessions. At 10:30 we are going online and we want to see familiar faces and hear familiar sounds, while we all focus on our tasks. If you can’t do without this passive ambience of an office space full of people getting work done, join us! Let’s cowork virtually in Athens, and lets – under these peculiar circumstances- try to minimize the side-effects of COVID-19 and all negative thoughts.

You will get the rest details about Stone Soup’s VC operation through Slack by the end of the day!

Why Life in Athens is Attractive to Remote Workers?

Life in Athens is exciting. If you don’t go to neighborhoods like Acropolis or Plaka you will find yourself exposed to the local people and culture, while living in the center of the city is affordable and not a status quo indicator.

That was the reason why Paulin chose Athens as his base over other European cities. Paulin is a young full-stack developer from France who switched to a remote working lifestyle and he joined our space to share workspace and to meetup with other residents.

work remotely

Life in Athens is Different

Having worked and lived in several capital cities like Paris, Madrid, Lisbon, and Athens, Athens was the one to win him by comparison. Despite its rich history and many sightseeing opportunities Athens still remains affordable without losing its authenticity, even in the city center. This is quite rare for a big European capital city, as most of them end up as huge expensive tourist traps.

What he finds attractive is the hectic way the city is organized, and the possibilities this imperfection provides. Due to its flawed nature, there are lots of organizations determined to reform the community and to create a functional environment for the various vulnerable groups of people. This state invites Paulin to dare think of ways of improving the everyday challenges and make a positive impact on his local context. Therefore, upon his arrival, he was drawn to pick a cause and become part of the change in need.

Following a Social Cause

Paulin discovered quite by chance Social Hackers Academy, a coding school, where they teach vulnerable groups of people, and that was a cause he wished to volunteer to. SHA aims to enable refugees, migrants, and unemployed people to develop skills in the ICT sector and consequently find a job.

He joined in October 2019 as a volunteer teacher of Web Development courses instructed in English and he thinks highly of the whole idea and execution. In a bit more detail, each class is composed of around 15 people, and while the preparation of class material is mostly taken care of by the organization, the instructor gets the freedom to approach the topic of the lecture by choice.

The class is practical with students using laptops during it, and the environment is pretty dynamic and well-organized with a substantial impact on the student’s skills and life.

It is truly fulfilling to see those people successfully following every lecture and being able to take advantage of the opportunities they get. Knowing that there are former students who have found jobs afterward makes it even more meaningful and fuels the cause!

Further Information about SHA:

If you are interested to get somehow involved too, your input would be more than welcome. Specifically, SHA needs mentors in Hard Coding, and Soft Skills, people to run Workshops and/or speak in monthly Meetups, Marketing and Communications specialists as well as laptop donations and any possible funding support. Feel free to contact them and talk to them in person.