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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

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.

The best coworking spaces in Europe: Find yours in Greece

We are very happy to be mentioned in the latest Nomad Capitalist article, titled: “The best coworking spaces in Europe”. It feels great when your hard work gets recognised!

Are you a digital nomad? 

Nomad Capitalist is all about helping people like you “go where you’re treated best”. You may read the full article here and when the road leads you in Athens would be fun to pay us a visit!

Embracing the nomad lifestyle entails so many opportunities for expanding yourself either professionally or personally. Changing your basis frequently can be super exciting and could rock your world as you have the potential to meet so many people, be exposed to new ideas, different cultures and try new things.

How do you achieve to get some real influence?

It is helpful to keep track of local meetups and checking the local fb groups for digital nomads to find events relevant to you and generally keep an exploring attitude. Or you could go straight to the source of all the magic itself and mingle with the locals at hubs while you’re also having your work done. In a previous article we shared some tips you need to know to start working remotely and we vote for the first and fifth suggestions we mentioned there. Sharing some real time conversations on your break time with people from the local community may lead you to discover so many more than what you could merely by yourself.

Find your hub/ coworking space

Wherever you may happen to be, there are plenty of options for creative hubs and coworking spaces all over the world. Helping you with that choice there are numerous articles reviewing the crop of the cream of them, and many platforms (e.g. coworker etc) where you may find actual ratings of them. 

In union there is strength

Hey! Do you know the slack community ”Freelance Athens“? If you are a freelancer in Athens you should definitely go check it out! It is an initiative started by two digital nomads, Kim Gillick and Lucy Xu, based in Athens and its aim is to give the freelancers of Athens a nice, tight and functional online community to turn to when they are in need of some support!

Recently, we hosted their first event: “Staying Social as a Freelancer” here at Stone Soup. At the event, Kim and a very active nomad, Nathan Sudds, shared some useful insights and experiences relevant to Athens freelancers, helping the community to expand beyond an online-only presence! It’s been a successful and well organised event moderated and facilitated by Karolina Sieler, who recently joined the Freelance Athens’ team remotely.

Who is Karolina?

Karolina is from Poland and she has 6 years of experience as a teacher and a public speaker in England and Scotland. She used to be a university lecturer and – occasionally – a speaker at conferences all over Europe, until she realised she was craving a new challenge. After exploring new professional options for a bit, she initiated her first business by setting up a community for entrepreneurs, start-up owners and freelancers in London, called FBIZZ Freelancers Hub. She spent 2 years running events for the community, inviting speakers and facilitating panel discussions. She used the community’s platform as a ground for creating a business blog while she took her first steps as a freelancer. Two years ago, she decided to start a new chapter in her life and become a digital nomad.

Being a digital nomad: dreaming it vs living it

“My vision was to start from London and spend 5 years there, then go to Hong Kong for another 5 years, then New York etc. I was dreaming about living the big city life but only after a year and a half in London I realised it wasn’t right for me. Therefore, I decided to keep my work life in London and explore my opportunities in different places, including Athens.”

Being a freelancer may become frustrating and lonely. The reason Karolina appreciates Athens so much is for the vibrant city life that gives you the opportunity to build deep connections with local people, as well as, with other expats. This is the main reason she seeks for opportunities to engage and comes back whenever she is able to.

Karolina’s business and vision

Over the years, she has finally figured out the ideal business model that makes her happy and at the same time supports her financially. Karolina has built her own online platform supporting law students in the UK called 1stClassLLB. She creates online courses and runs a YouTube channel.

Both in London and in Athens, she tried at the beginning to work from home. She soon realised that she was missing the sense of belonging to a community or organisation. She was set out to find a coworking home and to be able to share workspace, initiate activities with other coworkers and potentially work on a common cause. 

Karolina drops occasionally by Stone Soup and has joined Kim and Lucy, to fulfil their common vision, that is to unite the Freelance Athens community both online and offline.  “I am very satisfied with my decision to work from here. Ever since I started I feel part of a big family, plus I witness myself being more productive!”