Life at Desana

Work from anywhere: Desana team in Athens

July 10, 2023

“The office as we know it is over.”  That’s a quote from Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky who recently announced his company’s decision to allow their employees to work from anywhere.

He continued,“If you want to know what the workplace future looks like, look at young companies, because…young companies are flexible, they’re mobile, they’re kind of more nomadic. I think that’s probably what the workplace of the future will look like in 10 years.”

It’s hard not to feel like he’s talking about us. Our company was actually named after a nomadic Amazonian tribe. We chose the name Desana because it reflects our values and our vision of the future of life and work.

Like the Desana, we live for movement, new experiences and connections, expansion and growth. One of the ways we encourage this is by giving our employees the freedom, trust and autonomy to work from anywhere.

Three of our team members embarked on a month-long workation to Athens, Greece, last month. We caught up with them and asked them to spill the Ouzo.

Hello! Who are you and what do you do at Desana?

J: Hey, I’m Jo and I lead our fabulous Supply team, making sure we have partnerships with quality workspaces across the world according to customer demand.

H: Hi, I’m Holly and I’m an Account Manager. I help our customers get the most out of Desana.

G: My name’s Genevieve and I work within our Customer/Business Development team, advising our Enterprise customers on how to implement Desana as a flexible working solution.

How did this workation come about? Why did you choose Athens?

G: We were throwing around lots of options to begin with. It’s a little overwhelming at first when you have such a full choice, but we knew we definitely wanted to be within a couple of hours either side of BST, with access to the sea, great food, and loads of culture. Athens ticks all of those boxes, plus I’d heard great things about it from friends who had spent time here.

What’s it like there?

G: Brilliantly chaotic. It’s small enough to walk pretty much everywhere, and we’ve found our favourite routes, past our favourite vintage shop, and the man who owns the fruit stand and lines up his strawberries perfectly every morning, dodging all the mopeds and being dodged by all the cats - there are a lot!

How has Desana facilitated this remote working situation?

J:  Desana is remote first, so as long as the timezone (and wifi connection) doesn’t critically affect our work, we are free to work from wherever we want. Athens is two hours ahead of the UK so I really enjoy having quiet time in the mornings to get focussed work done before the rest of the team comes online back home. Plus, being two hours closer to the east also means that I can conduct my calls in Australia at a much more reasonable time.

What does being able to work remotely mean to you, personally?

G: I discovered that I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) a few years ago when I was at University and the dark winters in the UK would badly affect me. I’d spend hours sitting in front of an SAD lamp to get vitamin D. It was miserable.

Last year, the monotony of starting and finishing work while it was dark became overwhelming. There was also construction going on in my flat so I decided to bite the bullet, listen to my body, and head to sunnier climes.

I’d visited Lisbon before in winter and loved it, so I decided to return. I stayed for a month and it was honestly the best decision I’ve ever made. My whole mood shifted in such a dramatic way. So much so, I decided to do it again this year, but this time to Greece!

I’ve come to realise that having a workation like this doesn’t need to impact your career, contrary to what society makes us think.

I previously felt that, because I didn’t do a gap year or travel after University, I might never get the opportunity to, since I wouldn’t want to jeopardise my career progression. However, my experience of working from Lisbon last year proved that didn’t have to be the case. I found that so liberating.

How has it been using Desana in Greece?

J: Easy peasy lemon squeezy. The app is very user friendly and is geared towards the user quickly being able to see everything they need to know about the space and giving them the ability to book into it instantly through their company’s Desana subscription.

Desana already has workspace partnerships in Athens so it’s been great to use the network I helped set up from my spare bedroom back in Bristol in lockdown and to meet the people I’ve only ever connected with virtually!

We’ve been loving Impact Hub Athens, Stone Soup and Selina Theatrou out here.

How is working from there different from your regular routine back at home? How does it make you feel?

H: The most obvious thing is that the climate is totally different from the UK. At the time of writing it’s brilliantly sunny and 29 degrees outside. Personally the wonderful  weather makes such a massive difference as the sunshine helps you start and end your day on such a positive note.

It also means you just want to walk everywhere to make the most of it. We’ve been walking to every workspace so far, up to 40 mins. Because of the time difference (we’re two hours ahead), we’ve opted to start our day at around 10am and finish slightly later. I think I’ve found my ideal working routine!

What have you been doing in your time off?

H: I’m a real foodie so I’ve been enjoying sampling loads of traditional Greek dishes. I read that Greek is considered the healthiest cuisine in the world, so that makes me feel slightly better about the sheer volume of food I’ve been consuming!

Some highlights for me are the incredibly thick 100% Greek yoghurt with pine honey and walnuts, saganaki cheese, greek salads (pretty much every single day), Tomatokeftedes, olives, Moussaka, Tzatziki, Melitzanosalata, Greek Fava ...and of course the obligatory shot of Ouzo after each meal.

We planned for a week of holiday while we were out here. We visited one of the islands, Paros, which was absolutely stunning and so relaxing. We chose the perfect time of year because it’s not peak season so we got a really good rate for our villa and have managed to get a table at all the restaurants we’ve wanted to try.

Have you met any locals?

H: Yes! Going to the coworking spaces makes it easy to meet local people. I am obsessed with Google mapping and chatting to locals to get their best recommendations.  

We always try our best to use Greek greetings and pleasantries. It’s nice to have locals correct us when our pronunciation isn’t quite there.  Brownie points for trying, hopefully.

How does it feel to be able to travel and work with your friends, colleagues and partners?

J:  It’s crazy to think that this time last year I hadn’t met Geni or Holly but already in the space of eight months I’ve shared two of the most memorable workations of my life with them.

I now have two new amazing friends in my life (for life).  We’ve also been able to establish an excellent working relationship because the time we’ve spent living and working together has allowed us to develop a deeper understanding of how each other thinks through and approaches their role and daily challenges.

What cool experiences have you had that you wouldn’t have had before?

J:  If I didn’t work for Desana I probably would have never considered spending a month in Athens or Lisbon.

You think you’ve seen a place when you have a four day city break but spending time actually working here, rather than just being on holiday, allows you to experience what it would actually be like to live there - you start to see the same people (and cats!) and get to know what day to take the bins out!

Where would you like to workation? Perhaps you’re already on one and are using Desana? Share your pictures and tag us on Instagram or tell us on Twitter.

*Photos by Genevieve Hudson, Holly Farmer and Jo Muskus.