Updated: Jul 15
All of us are locked down somewhere in the world.
As the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic handcuffs nations and borders, I'm serving my sentence in Melbourne. All this while, I've been receiving and exchanging stories of lockdown with friends from all over. I spoke previously with Ritesh Kumar Singh, a business economist and CEO of Indonomics Consulting in India.
The COVID-19 Lockdown Series is a cumulation of stories shared with Affluent Society by its members and members of Platinum Circle.
Katya Zavialova is the South East Asia Country Manager of Bentley Motors where she takes care of regional sales. Originally from Russia and growing up in the UK, she started her automotive career with Bentley Motors in 2008, growing in areas of Marketing, PR, Training and Sales. Since 2014 she has been based in the regional office in Singapore. She is also a keen linguist, a passionate sourdough baker in the making and mother to Freddie.
Affluent Society (AS) spoke to her about her experience with the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore.
AS: What is the lockdown like in Singapore?
I am based out of Singapore, located close to the famous Old Airport Road Hawker centre! On June 2nd Singapore came out of our ‘Circuit Breaker’ period into a phased re-opening of public service facilities, of which we’re currently in Phase 2 of 3. Local sentiment is that we are cautious of other countries re-opening too soon and while itching to return to ‘normal life’. We have to be respectful to the restrictions in place as we all adjust to the new normal.
AS: What challenges did you face when the lockdown started?
The biggest challenge was for our family life with our 6 month old boy at the time. The day we paid for day care, the Singapore PM announced the beginning of ‘Circuit Breaker’ measures and since then we have had to juggle 2 full time jobs and looking after the little one at home. This certainly came with its challenges but also many positives as we were present for all the ‘firsts’ – crawling, standing-up and special developmental steps we would have missed had he been in daycare and we’d have been working away. Some expected challenges included keeping fit and ensuring we actually leave the house to stretch our legs during the day!
AS: How are you coping with the lockdown?
We have adjusted incredibly well. Daily we go out on walks and make a special effort when we head to the supermarket. That’s a real family day out activity in these times! Baking sourdough has also helped to focus on something new and allowed space to ‘switch-off’ from work at home. Sharing a sourdough starter or freshly baked bread with neighbours gave a real sense of community and appreciation for the kind things in life.
AS: Anything positive came out of staying and working from home?
Working from home has been a great opportunity to be very flexible in the daily schedule. Daily tag-team activity with the husband of work telephone conferences and nap times with the little one has meant work became intertwined with our daily life. The most rewarding aspects has to be the daily delights of watching the little one grow and develop and unexpectedly turn up by the table ready to chew on your laptop cables. The days have flown by as the ‘lost’ time commuting or going out were filled with new experiences of baking bread, hanging out with the family or regular video calls with our family and friends back in the UK.
AS: What's happening to return to normalcy?
Working from home has proven to be very effective, hence our organization is extending this opportunity until further notice without the necessity of working in the office. Our organization has extended a small contribution to purchasing some office equipment to support the new working arrangement at home, such as purchasing a good office chair or any accessories that would replicate the office environment. Bentley take great responsibility in the health of their employees, so strict measures are in place should you need to go into the office for a short period of time, ensuring your temperature is taken, sanitization of the office space is regular and every employee needs an authorization to head into the office.
Next up: We speak with Edward Mandla about his COVID-19 lockdown experience in Australia.
The COVID-19 Lockdown Series is brought to you by the Partners of Affluent Society including SO Sofitel Singapore, a luxury boutique hotel housed within an iconic heritage building and decorated with a perfect blend of both French style and chic Singaporean influences in the central business district.