This article isn’t meant to gloat or make you feel jealous. It’s just about seizing a moment in time. Last year around August, we’ve been working from home for around six months. At L’Institut Idee (my place of employment), our bread and butter had been in-person alignment sessions. When the pandemic hit we pivoted quickly to turn out real-life sessions into virtual experiences. Now, we can literally do SMP’s, brainstorming, and strategy sessions pretty much from anywhere in the world from the comfort of our own homes. So, when the opportunity came up and the European borders started to slowly open to Canadians last year, I seized the chance to work from a new home. I wanted to work remotely in another country, specifically Greece. I used Expedia.com to search for the best flight, tours and hotel options.
Some important things to note about traveling in the COVID era. The government has issued a travel ban, which means that many insurance companies won’t cover you if you leave the country, especially for any COVID-related illnesses. That meant that the group insurance I have with work was essentially useless for traveling outside of Canada. Luckily, my Visa Avion card would cover me for the time I was out of the country, but once again not for anything COVID-related. For my own peace of mind, I got tested for COVID before I left and was negative.
The only positive part of traveling is that the airport is a ghost town. Only travellers can enter the airport, and they have to do so while following clearly-marked instructions. It’s not at capacity and all restaurants are closed, though some shops are open. You have to get your temperature checked before going through security but that only takes seconds. The most uncomfortable part of the whole journey is having to wear a mask for an extended period of time. From the airport to the plane and all the way to ground transportation. So if you do decide to take a trip, find a mask that’s comfortable for the long haul. You are only allowed to remove your mask when you eat. Oh, and remember those warm meals that you could order based on your dietary restrictions? Kiss that goodbye as you get no choice and the meal is cold.
Greece has a policy for anyone entering the country where you need to fill out a PLF (Personal Locator Form) that indicates all the places you will be staying in Greece. You must have it filled out before boarding the plane. They also do random COVID testing upon arrival and I was one of the lucky ones to get tested. I had to stay indoors for one day then if I didn’t hear from them I was good to leave the apartment and carry on with my plans. Once again I tested negative. Personally I think every country should do this. Staying in quarantine for 14 days because you might have the virus isn’t as accurate as getting tested and knowing you don’t.
What I thought would be the biggest challenge, the seven-hour time difference, actually became a big advantage. My typical day was doing my work in the morning, having the afternoon to explore the sites, and then jumping on Zoom calls in the evening. I’m not going to lie, having meetings back-to-back all the way to 10 pm was tiring. But it’s totally worth it when you wake up every morning and see the Acropolis from your balcony.
At the end of the day, if your business allows you to work remotely, do it! Leaders, although you may be worried about your employees traveling the world while working for you, embrace it. The pandemic has taught me to seize every moment in life because you just don’t know what the future will bring.