Working From Home Tips From Culture Trip’s International Staff

Ben Harten-Beilis stresses the importance of taking breaks in the day to unwind
Ben Harten-Beilis stresses the importance of taking breaks in the day to unwind | Courtesy of Ben Harten-Beili
Alex Wexelman

Staff Writer

Staying safe and sane during COVID-19 quarantine looks different based on where you live. These tips come from Culture Trippers in seven different countries across four continents.

Coronavirus is disrupting everyday lives around the world, but the international team at Culture Trip are still working and trying to keep things as normal as possible. Below are their tips on how to cope with this new reality, and some personal accounts of dealing with social distancing.

Nicolo Gervasi, Social Video Producer
Sardinia, Italy

“As [Italy is the] worst-affected country in Europe, self isolation isn’t as much of a choice as it is the law: we’re only allowed to go outside to buy food or medicine, walk our dogs or go to work if smart working isn’t an option. I’m lucky enough to be able to work from home but, as I unfortunately don’t have a dog to walk, it can get a bit claustrophobic at times. The balcony has become my go-to work station and I’ve noticed I’m not the only one.”

Nicolo Gervasi has take to working from his balcony in Sardinia, Italy

“I find myself looking at my neighbours reading, sunbathing or just breathing in some fresh air on their balconies – a habit I’ve probably adopted to make up for the people watching one normally does when out and about every day. Another trick I’ve adopted is taking frequent espresso breaks, getting on group video chats and doing home workouts. Oh, and my massage chair has become my best friend as it helps me stretch those sore muscles from my new-found sedentary lifestyle.”

Mandy Tie, Mandarin Commissioning Editor
Shanghai, China

“Over the past two months (yeah, that’s how long it’s been for us in Shanghai), I’ve been stacking up books under my laptop, so I can dance and sing while carrying out some of the more technical tasks. I recommend soaking up as much sunlight as you can possibly get and speaking to your family and loved ones at regular intervals (even though they can get on your nerves sometimes, and vice versa).”

Molly Codyre, Junior Copywriter
London, UK

“My work from home (WFH) tip is to get up and leave the house before working, even if it’s just to sip on your coffee; I think it’s ideal to go for a walk. Another tip is to cook your lunch. It’s very cathartic and nice to do something different. Eat it outside, away from screens, with a book. Reading helps promote creativity.”

Molly Codyre’s workstation at her partner’s parents’ home

Mina Dinic, Social Media Manager
London, UK

“I recommend doing a group FaceTime with drinks and a game such as charades to keep things fun and sociable after you’ve finished working from home. I also get myself fully dressed each morning as if I’m off to the office, and then get changed after I’ve put away my laptop, which helps give the day structure and keeps you in a healthy routine.”

Alex Wexelman, Staff Writer
New York City, USA

“Each day brings out a different facet of my personality. One day I’m stretching on the floor as the sunshine warms my body; another day, I’m in bed, listening to National Public Radio to keep on top of any pressing updates; another day, I’m reading, watering my plants, cooking, journaling, watching nature docs and writing songs. Essentially, I am attempting to stay safe indoors while also not forgetting about the things that make me happy when I do have the ability to shake the shackles of home off and go outside. (And, I do still go outside, but only for brief walks with a distance between me and a friend – that’s been essential to sanity.)”

Author Alex Wexelman’s messy bed workstation in Brooklyn, NY

Alison Thomson, Head of Copy
Brighton, UK

“My stay-sane tip is to walk the dog on the beach. Social distancing is not a problem (it’s not exactly crowded, and there’s a lot of beach to go round). Getting to gaze out at the horizon is very calming.”

Danielle Hallock, Commissioning Editor
New York City, USA

“My tip is to set aside an hour every day to exercise and use the streets of the city as your gym. I’ve been stretching and strength training in the living room and recommend walking, running and biking down the streets.”

Danielle Hallock’s lit-up workspace in Williamsburg, NY

Tal Gottesman, Editorial Director
London, UK

“I’ve worked from home quite a lot in the past, though of course not under these circumstances. For me, changing location is key to maintaining energy levels and concentration. I have a number of different spots at home that I use throughout the day, and I think it keeps things from feeling sluggish.”

Marcy Ayres, Senior Photo Editor
New York City, USA

“I am trying to stay sane by cooking a new, big meal at least twice a week so that I am continuing to eat well and have a nice evening activity. My boyfriend also adopted a dog right before the lockdown started and taking her on walks several times a day has really helped. Plus, the fact that we are locked down together means I have someone else to talk to. I make sure I get out of the house and keep somewhat of a normal routine for [the dog] Greta’s sake. Plus puppy cuddles always help with the down time. I am also trying to add things like the Met Opera streamings to my calendar, and schedule time to do virtual museum tours to hopefully help as time goes on.”

Greta, the dog, hangs in one of Marcy Ayres’ workspaces

Jillian Anthony, Deputy Editorial Director, North America
Los Angeles, USA

“I live in New York City, but decided to come to Los Angeles where my family lives to ride out the quarantine. I’m in Pasadena at my sister’s place and planning on staying away from my parents for some time. She has a roommate, as well as a dog and a cat, and I brought my own cat here with me, so it’s a full house. I’m making sure I’m working at a kitchen table rather than from bed (most of the time). I’m scheduling time to get out of the house for a walk twice a day (and walking Lola the dog makes that easy). I know regular exercise is a huge part of maintaining my mental health so I’ll be running as well as using the free Nike Training Club app, which is great for beginners and offers plenty of no-equipment workouts for home. My friend group talks on massive FaceTime chats, and they’re so fun (and a surprisingly good UX experience). And I’m saving a little time to still plan for future travels, when the world starts spinning again and I can venture farther from my doorstep.”

Jillian Anthony is joined in her workspace by her sister’s dog and cat

Ben Harten-Beilis, Senior Product Manager
Tel Aviv, Israel

“From the perspective of a WFH parent, [my spouse and I have] found it key to allow each other a period of continuous focus and work throughout the day, so we’ve split our days into morning shifts and afternoon shifts, allowing each of us a consecutive five hours of work. More importantly, we’ve also found because of the limited work time and our daughter that if we don’t prioritise it, we end up not having taken a single moment’s break in the day to unwind. So we are trying to schedule in time in our day for short breaks and to have lunch. Simple things help as well, like maintaining our normal morning routine of getting dressed for work and kindergarten, having breakfast and coffee, and then splitting up for activities and work.”

Bieke Claes, General Manager
New York City, USA

“Shifting perspective helps for me. Our grandparents were called to war; we’re called to sit on a couch. We can do this. I shift perspective, for example, by practicing gratitude. I am grateful to not have coronavirus symptoms; I am grateful to have internet so that I can stay informed and connected; I am grateful that I can do my job from my computer. Gratitude as attitude.”

Bieke Claes is working from here home in New York

Cedric de Schaut, Chief of Staff
Wevelgem, Belgium

“I’d like to run the Athens Classic Marathon on the 8th of November in Greece. I’d use this WFH period to prepare. I’ve started this week, so every day I’m going to run a tour of 8km (5mi) until Friday. On Saturday, I’ll visit my brother who was living in Portugal but had to move back to Belgium because he wanted to be closer to the family during this crisis. I’ll cycle to his place and back (100km (62mi) in total). From next week onwards, I’ll double the running tour to 16km (10mi) and cycle every two days on top of that 30 km (18.6mi). And so on.”

Maya Sapieka, Freelance Editor
Sydney, Australia

“Moving is the most important part of working from home to stay healthy, sane and productive. You take for granted how much you move when you work in an office environment. If leaving the house for a good walk around a park or a trip to the gym or studio isn’t possible, then a good yoga session in the living room or bedroom is key. There are plenty of free classes on YouTube, or sign up to an online program, or use an app. Thirty or forty minutes is ideal, but even 10 minutes when you wake up will have a positive impact on your day.

“Having a strict schedule is pointless in my opinion. Things get in the way and as soon as you’re behind on one thing you feel like you’ve failed. Structure on the other hand is so important. There should be goals in place to help you structure your day. Over my morning coffee I write a list of all the things I need to achieve for work and then make sure I also include: moving and stretching, doing something creative like drawing, studying or inventing some bonkers cake recipe, one item of housework, prepping dinner or touching base with friends and family I haven’t spoken to in a while. Knowing how long the list is helps you to establish how much time you actually have to realistically get things done properly.

“Some people say that having a designated spot in which to do work is essential. But sitting in a chair at a desk all day doesn’t work for me. I fidget and move around constantly so I have about four different work stations in my home, including the floor. As long as the TV isn’t on, a change of perspective and position and posture can really help.

“Above all, don’t sleep in late if you can help it. Too much sleep can make you depressed and apathetic. And don’t forget to sit in the sun for a solid 20 minutes, or take vitamin D tablets if that isn’t possible.”

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