AUTHOR: Valerie Carlson
DATE: May 28, 2020
Guildhawk’s Self-Isolation World Tour – Tips, Tricks and Insights
As we always say, we are nothing without our amazing people. And Guildhawk people are based all over the world. Given that almost all of those people are currently experiencing an unprecedented period in their lives, we want to take some time to check in with them, understand their experience of the COVID-19 crisis, and maybe even get some tips for making the most of isolation along the way. We’re hoping to see what some countries might be doing differently, what approaches are the same, and ultimately, what we can all learn from each other over the course of this shared human experience – where we are at once on our own, and yet all in it together.
On to Brazil this week, where our people are keeping busy, busy, busy. Most of our respondents work from home as standard, so their working lives continue more or less as normal. For those who run businesses, they are using this time to take a step back and look at the bigger strategic picture, develop new skills and try new things.
Fuelled by plentiful coffee, our people in Brazil are active – from playing games to keep the kids entertained and cooking elaborate, healthy meals each day, to studying and home schooling.
Other activities occupying their time are catching up on reading, getting regular exercise, and relaxing in front of classic films and entertainment shows.
All spoke about the importance of creating and sticking to a routine, getting outside for fresh air, and speaking regularly to family and friends, with some also highlighting the importance of their faith in getting them through difficult times.
Each and every person highlighted that current circumstances in Brazil are making people kinder, more community minded, and less focused on individual goals and pursuits, including within a business context. Many also referenced their reinforced respect for key workers, and how clear it has become that we all depend on each other.
Time to take our tour to Canada, which is now starting a staggered lifting of pandemic restrictions.
It seems our people in Canada have been using this time primarily to brush up on their culinary skills! From watching Masterchef, to trying a new recipe every day, Guildhawk’s people are cooking and baking up a storm, from scratch and to great effect!
As linguists, most continue to work as normal, and use free time to spring clean, exercise, and catch up on reading. Swimming and cycling top the list of physical activities, along with long walks in nature.
Respondents suggested keeping up with the news and medical recommendations, and staying on top of the recovery numbers, as a shining light in the midst of often otherwise bad news. They also advised focusing on the positives – more time with family; longer, more meaningful conversations; and a reinforced appreciation of the many good things already present in all our lives.
This week, our tour takes us to Greece, which started introducing its first COVID-19 measures right back at the end of February; well before much of the rest of Europe.
Our people in Greece are old hands at self-isolation at this point, and had some advice for those who’ve had less experience – namely, give yourself a break!
Almost all our respondents addressed the idea that we should be using this time productively. Their general consensus was that there is no obligation whatsoever to take this opportunity to “improve” yourself. While some did indeed recommend learning a new language or taking up a new hobby, all were quick to specify that anything along these lines should be to help you get through the time as happily as possible; not because it’s what other people are doing.
Food was a recurring theme in our Greek responses, from wine and chocolate, to fruit and tea. And chosen entertainment varied from high-brow plays and concerts, to whichever television programmes offered maximum escapism with minimum mental effort!
Every person spoke of their pride at how the crisis has been handled in Greece, with many referencing their pleasant surprise at public adherence to regulations. Some put the latter down to the hard-won wisdom and perspective gained through the many years of financial hardship the country’s populace have already experienced.
Next, to Russia, where much of the country has been in lockdown since the end of March.
Our people in Russia remain positive in the face of self-isolation. Largely working from home as standard, they have not really seen a vast change to their daily lives.
Every respondent was keen to mention that there was no chance for boredom, with work, hobbies, and family commitments occupying their time. Reading and physical exercise topped the list of activities outside work, as well as learning new languages, honing existing ones, and teaching others online to do the same.
Their advice for getting through this was overwhelmingly to make the most of it; to do something you’ve never had the time to do, to reconnect with the people who are important to you, and to move your body!
Every person we spoke to noted that they were pleasantly surprised by the degree to which everyone is adhering to lockdown rules – staying home as much as possible, and physically distancing when out and about – and how people are taking care of each other; families, friends and neighbours alike.
This week, our tour takes us to Italy, which has been in full lockdown for over 5 weeks. The situation in Italy is particularly serious, with one of the highest national rates of COVID-19.
Our people in Italy are doing their very best to maintain a positive outlook, and get through to the other side of this crisis.
Along with work, reading and gardening, all respondents are keeping up with daily government updates, and trying to eat fresh.
Several respondents referred to a visible increase in charitable donations and work done by local groups, with some of our people working as volunteers. This is part of a general shift they are sensing towards more solidarity across different classes and groups.
There is definitely a trend amongst our Italian folk for classic 80s films, which help them relax and are a good distraction (think Indiana Jones and Ghostbusters), and – at the other end of the scale – for virtual museum and gallery tours.
Every person we spoke to highlighted the importance of positive thinking. They suggested using this opportunity to focus on the things that are important to you (and emptying your life of the things that aren’t), as well as looking forward to the future and all the good things to come once the current crisis ends.
Next up on our Self-Isolation World Tour is the UK, which has been on lockdown for just over 2 weeks now.
Guildhawk’s people in the UK are taking up a lot of new hobbies to occupy their time – installing and tending vegetable gardens, learning new sports to play with their kids, knitting and trying new recipes.
Everyone we spoke to talked about the importance of daily exercise, whether that be yoga in your living room, or a bracing walk close to home (which is still possible in the UK, unlike some other countries under lockdown).
Many of our people in the UK have kids at home, now that schools are closed. They spoke about being grateful for this rare opportunity to spend time together, as well as their reinforced respect for what the country’s teachers do, after 2 weeks of home-schooling duties!
Each person recommended not spending too much time on social media, or constantly ingesting news updates. And, just like for our Spanish respondents, across the board they highlighted a strong new sense of community and a recognition of the work being done by healthcare and other key workers to keep people safe, and our world turning.
The first stop on our world tour is Spain, where many of our linguists have already been in isolation for over 2 weeks.
Our people in Spain told us that work has been a major factor in keeping their minds occupied while in lockdown, supplemented by home exercising (like yoga or tai chi), and lots of reading (recommendations include the currently omnipresent Elena Ferrante) in free time. Other pastimes cited were cooking (from scratch), wine (naturally), and cartoon-watching with the kids.
Most of the people we spoke to recommended using this time to catch up with the people and things that sometimes get neglected during our normal, busy lives, such as friends living in other countries, and furniture in need of upcycling. And every single person mentioned the community spirit they feel, the solidarity with their neighbours, and a nationwide respect and gratitude towards healthcare and other key workers.