We are wherever you need us to be!
Last month, Hyphen was commissioned by a client whose brief required us to visit 107 sites across Europe in the space of just two weeks. For this, we mobilised 20 staff from five of our offices and set about organising visits to 12 countries. Some sites were literally within walking distance from our offices, others required travel through near empty airports with proof of a negative Covid-19 test in hand.
We caught up with CEO, Eddie Miles, and other members of the team to see how they got on…
Eddie, you have just returned from a trip to a number of sites in Europe and the United Arab Emirates. Was this difficult to organise?
It was fairly tricky because entry to the UAE was dependent on having proof of a negative Covid-19 test result prior to arrival and having been tested within the previous 96 hours. Travel from Sweden to Denmark was also only permitted for a limited number of reasons – in my case as I was in transit. Bear in mind that the UAE only opened to visitors a few days before my arrival and so, I spent the week before reading that country’s advice to travellers online and I also spoke to the Danish police to check that I’d be allowed in! Travel is possible but I would advise anyone planning a trip to spend time checking each country’s Covid-19 regulations.
The way of life in Sweden appears not much different to pre-Covid-19. It was quite liberating after over 100 days of lockdown in the UK. In the UAE on the other hand, everyone adheres to the rules of face mask wearing – even when driving a car alone! It was disappointing to return to the UK to find that the wearing of face masks on public transport was being observed in such a half-hearted way.
Other than the pre-planning required to ensure access on arrival, how easy has it been to work and conduct business?
Actually, really good, not least because I think people appreciate the effort you’ve made to reach them.
There is generally lots of space on flights, some great hotel deals and airports are far less crowded with no queues for security.
Another thing I’ve noticed with the reduced numbers of travellers is that flights are suddenly very punctual!
As somebody who has always carried a paper sketchbook, I was sceptical about recording and submitting site information in real time through tablets, but it’s proved intuitive and convenient to abandon a life-time’s addiction to print. Covid-19 has undoubtedly changed how we work and in looking for silver-linings, this switch to paperless is a strong contender. Just don’t forget to re-charge your pencil!
Any final advice?
It’s easy to forget the value in face to face meetings, however limited these opportunities might be at the moment. Don’t entirely become a slave to Teams or Zoom. In some ways, now is a good time to travel, provided you put in the preparation time. Also, as is my case in the UK, the two-week isolation period on return to the UK must be part of your plan from the outset.
With teams located across Europe and Latin America, Eddie was supported in with the visits by colleagues in Hyphen’s offices in Berlin, London, Madrid, Milan and Paris.
Speaking about her experience, Marie Mathey, an interior designer based in our Paris office said:
“The first day of visits raised an interesting challenge! I had to cover two sites, complete the corresponding reports, and have them issued all in the same day. Such a tight timescale required careful organisation. Thankfully, our client contacts were very welcoming and ensured a safe and calm working environment. It was a great experience!”
Manuel Olivo del Amo, an architect in our Madrid office, carried out eight visits during the two weeks – visiting sites across Spain and the Netherlands. He commented:
“This has been a unique and rewarding professional experience and it’s nice to be back on site after so many months in lockdown. As well as visiting and reporting in record time, I’ve also had to learn new ways of doing things. Everyone has been very welcoming when I’ve met the client team, and I’ve enjoyed finally meeting people face-to-face again.”
Finally, we caught up with Catalina Hoyos, who is typically based in our London office. Catalina was responsible for organising the logistics of this complex operation…
“This has been an exciting and fast-paced project that has required a high level of organisation due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation. I’ve been supporting the team coordinating the visits and being a bridge between our client and our Hyphen team. It has been a very interesting experience and I have enjoyed working with people all over the world, learning different ways of approaching a project and adapting quickly to a world that’s constantly changing!”