My Lockdown Escape: How Flexible Working Changed My Life

25th Jun 2021

By Thomas Burt at OpenPayd.

It’s 6 o’clock in the evening and after a long day at work I stare out of the window looking at the cold, grey British winter. I have become convinced that I’m clinically bored! I’ve been living with my parents for 6 months and the only real social contact I’ve had is at the OpenPayd weekly quiz on a Friday night and a 4-day trip to Greece I took with my friends when the COVID restrictions were temporarily lifted. Something had to change!

After a chat with my manager and a couple of days planning, I was on a flight to Brazil with my laptop, arriving in Sao Paulo at 6pm on Sunday evening. The hotel offered a 24/7 co-working space with fast internet and free coffee! I was up at 6am the next day due to the big time difference, and checked in for our morning compliance call. Even with the early starts, I knew after the first couple of days I had made the right decision. Just being somewhere different was great, but to be somewhere so different from England in so many ways, it was really refreshing. I jumped on a bus to Rio the following week and checked-in to a hotel by the beach. 

Due to the time difference, I finished my working day at 2pm Brazil time. Most afternoons you could find me relaxing on the beach, enjoying the sun and failing miserably at speaking Portuguese to the locals. The weekends were filled with adrenaline and adventure. I plucked up the courage to do a skydive for the first (and last) time over the tropical Brazilian countryside. We took a helicopter ride at sunset over Copacabana beach in Rio, and a hot air balloon to the pyramids in Mexico (Mexico City was a necessary and eventful detour on the way back to the UK due to COVID Travel restrictions). I ate fresh mussels at the beach and went to Samba parties at night with adventurous, like-minded people who were also lucky enough to be escaping lockdown life in Europe. A few months into my experience I received a call from work asking if I would be open to joining the team in Malta, to help build out the compliance function. It didn’t need much thought! I had been really enjoying being somewhere different and exploring a new place so felt it was the perfect time for this opportunity.

After a couple of weeks back in the UK and countless PCR tests I was hopping on a plane to Malta. I am currently writing this blog whilst enjoying the view from the balcony of my new apartment in Sliema. I spent last weekend narrowly avoiding turning my kayak into a shipwreck and racing around the island on electric scooters. 

It’s been an incredible year and I’m truly grateful for the experiences that I have had - with a necessary mention going to those people that helped make it happen. There was a tremendous degree of goodwill and flexibility shown by the OpenPayd team and it’s something I massively appreciate. Next year, I will be taking full advantage of the new flexible working policy, allowing staff to work abroad for 60 days each year. I still haven’t made my mind up on whether to go back to Brazil or try somewhere new! Perhaps, I will close my eyes, spin a globe and go to whichever country I point my finger on. Though if I accidentally land in England, I’ll definitely be spinning again.