Social distancing hobbies: tech team edition

Like most of the global office-based workforce, the Aspectus Group team is working remotely (see some of the tech team’s faces at the end of the blog).

We’re lucky to be able to do so, but going fully remote is not without its challenges for a business. For a culture-focused company like Aspectus, keeping that culture alive and protecting mental health are top priorities. That’s why we’ve set up several initiatives from guided meditation sessions on Microsoft Teams, motivational talks from an ex-Sky Sports producer, through to a wellness buddy scheme.

Something our CEO has tasked us is to share what hobbies we’re thinking of taking up or what we’ve been up to outside of work.

It’s fair to say most people fall into one of two camps. You’re either part of the ultra-hustle culture where you’re using your time at home to learn a new language or how to code, or you’re using this time to focus on your mental health and do things that bring you joy.

So, starting with our technology team (other teams to follow in coming weeks) we’ve collated some of the things people are turning their hand to during this time – from self-case to self-improvement.

Astor Sonnen, account manager:

  • Sorting the garden – de-weeding and preparing it for some sunny weather
  • Replacing the nice living room mirror with a dartboard (see picture below)
  • Home circuit training
  • Watching Tiger King and being thankful that my parents didn’t call me ‘Joe Exotic’
  • Listening to country and downstairs’ rave music
  • Learning to juggle

Ellie Campbell, senior account executive:

  • Listening to Yale courses online. The ‘moralities of everyday life’ is pretty mind-blowing. Loads of university courses are free to stream online now
  • I designed some stuff in pen and ink and watercolour, trying to get back into art again
  • Finished ‘Testaments’ by Margaret Atwood and ‘The Last Night of the Earth Poems’ by Charles Bukowski. I’m now reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Lots of bath bombs and books
  • Hanging out with my family cat / taking photos of/with my family cat
  • Enduring some family ‘banter’

Ellie Clark, account executive:

  • Knitting (Hmu if you want a knitted accessory, hats are a speciality)
  • Jigsaw puzzle
  • Home workouts/yoga
  • Reading – currently halfway through Homo Deus
  • Running outside (in the daylight!)
  • Getting up at normal time and ‘commuting’ – 20-minute walk before starting work

Garry Dix, account director:

  • Taking Animal Crossing and the interior decorating of my house in-game incredibly seriously
  • Doing a thirty-day challenge that maxes out at a disgusting number of sit-ups, crunches, leg raises and a two-minute plank
  • Adult colouring and join-the-dot books
  • Baking and cooking (flapjacks, homemade ramen, chicken and leek risotto are a few early highlights)
  • Walking – below is a photo of allotments from today’s walk, you can’t see them but loads of people out tending to stuff

Hattie Curl, account manager:

  • Using House Party app to do daily workouts with mates and have random video chats
  • Making my little dinosaurs in their moulds – and painting them will follow soon
  • Lots of walks and lots of reading – just finished The Secret Barrister, very interesting read but a bit heavy going in places
  • Had a virtual pub night with mates where we all had drinks and tuned into the live stream of Bongo’s Bingo which was a laugh
  • G&T and Scrabble night (I lost)

Izzy Dann, account manager:

  • My book club’s gone virtual this week; after that, I’m finally going to read Michel Foucault’s Abnormal: Lectures at the College de France, 1974-1975, which has been sitting on my shelf for far too long
  • Yoga with Adriene and ClassPass digital workouts
  • Painting – going to complete all these unfinished pictures of mine and paint the pond in absence of swimming in it ( )
  • Getting outside absolutely every day, lest I become miserable
  • Honing my #TinCanCook skills but also baking a Nigella cake on the weekend, as we all need something to look forward to
  • Virtual pubs with pals, complete with life-dissecting

Melissa Jones, integrated account manager:

  • Downloaded a lot of audiobooks. Would recommend So Lucky – Dawn O’Porter, Grown Ups – Marian Keyes, The Flatshare – Beth O’Leary
  • Colouring books
  • Opening all the windows (I have no garden so is the best I can do)
  • Themed movie nights – we do this a lot anyway, but we’ll pick a random actor/actress and find a film they’re in that we haven’t seen before
  • Remembering that I don’t have to be productive in my ‘spare’ time

Michael House, head of technology:

  • I have a strict rule to get up early and go for a run every day. So far so good
  • Spending a lot of time in the garden, currently have created a hanging pot garden and planted a veggie patch
  • Am learning finally to use a cutthroat razor – figure knicking my neck is way better when people can only see me on video screen!
  • Preparing for the arrival of baby number two

Sofie Skouras, deputy head of technology:

  • Getting through my stack of books (see below) from some of the classics, like The Great Gatsby, through to new debuts novels like Queenie
  • I’ve downloaded Sims 3 for some nostalgic fun (which I’ve got very into)
  • Going on walks in the forest near my house
  • When I go to the shops for food, I pick up some daffodils too to cheer up my working from home station
  • Enjoying the extra sleep I get without a commute!
  • Catching up with family and friends on WhatsApp video
  • I’ve recently considered getting into candle making…

Stacey Cockram, account executive:

  • I did this quick 20 min yoga stress-reliver this morn and walking in Epping Forrest
  • Lighting all the candles to make me feel zen
  • Reading (just finished Circe by Madeline Miller and now I’m reading The Handmaids Tale)
  • Also enduring some family ‘banter’. Boardgames yet to be brought out, but they will soon – this will either make or break us
  • Using House Party to video chat my nan and friends
  • Write some handwritten letters (no one does that anymore, so it seems like a good time to bring this back)

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