#WFH Diaries: Ilya Andreyev of Cheil Russia

As confinement continues in most parts of the world due to the coronavirus pandemic, we're checking in with creative people to see how they're faring. Here's an update from Ilya Andreyev of Cheil Russia.

Give us a one-line bio of yourself.

I'm a creative director at Cheil Russia, proud to lead a great team of talented creators, innovators, storytellers and crafters. I believe we are in one of the most exciting industries of our times. 

Where are you living right now, and who's with you?

I'm in Moscow and currently staying alone in an apartment with a view of the city skyline.

What's your work situation like at the moment?

It's intense, yet very exciting. We haven't practiced remote work much until now. So it's adaptation and learning time for the team and myself. Conversations take the most significant chunk of my day. As probably everyone else does, I do hours and hours of video calls. At the same time, surprisingly, I realized I have more opportunities to stay focused on hands-on tasks compared to the usual way of working. I feel more exhausted at the end of the week but much happier with the outcome.

Describe your socializing strategy.

Probably like everyone else in the world, video-conferencing apps and chats play a vital role. When the team switched to 100 percent WFH, I felt the need to keep the spirit of unity regardless of being separated by distance. First thing every Monday, I do a "check-in call" looking ahead to the working week for our team chat. I greet the team, share a couple of highlights of what we expect to happen, and wish a good mood and health to everyone.

Last thing every Friday, the team gathers for a meeting called "check-out." We celebrate the end of the working week and freely share our thoughts and feelings about the past week in a relaxed way. This should be the last meeting of the week before, hopefully, a chilled-out weekend. Saturdays and Sundays are reserved for calls with my parents and my brother, people I miss very much.

What are you reading?

A couple of titles at the same time: Good to Great by James C. Collins, Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull, and Noon: 22nd Century, a science fiction book by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.

What are you watching?

Mostly TikTok.

What are you listening to?

I really like to have music on while working. I love to discover new stuff every day. While everybody is desperately waiting for Spotify to launch in Russia, I listen to various shows on Soundcloud and Mixcloud. 

How are you staying fit?

Staying fit is super important to me. Three times a week, I do workout sessions over Skype with my remote coach. He left Moscow to quarantine in his hometown of Tyumen, 2,000 km away from where I am. I have never done remote training before, and I must say, those sessions are really, really intense! 

Have you taken up a hobby?

Actually, staying fit has become a hobby. 

Any tips for getting necessities?

Don't let anxiety and fear drive your decisions. Try to act with a cool head when choosing what to get. Get what you really need. Don't overbuy, and if you can, order online.

An awkward moment since all this started.

An awkward moment is that I can't remember any! I think it's very natural to expect funny stories when you get into a completely new context. It's like traveling to a country with a culture that is different from yours. It's when you inevitably get into funny accidents. But that hasn't happened in my case. That's awkward because I want to have a fun memory to share. It would be strange to get out of WFH season without any fun things to share, but we still have time.

Best work email you got since all this started.

Not one but many emails from my colleagues all over our global network that makes us feel connected while being separated by thousands kilometers, time zones and quarantine.

An aha! moment since all this started.

Don't postpone dreams for later. In 2019 I was planning to run a marathon. This was my big dream. So I began my preparations. But they were not going very well. I was overwhelmed with work, projects and other stuff. So I was thinking of postponing the run until 2020. Then I sat down and said to myself, no, I'm going to make it this year. I made an effort and made this dream come true. I still feel happy and proud of myself. I realized that if I had postponed it until 2020, I would have run it in … who knows when? It would be one less dream to come true. Don't postpone your dreams.

What's your theory on how this is going to play out?

I'm an optimist. Everything will be alright because people are smart. Many of us have, in a sense, the luxury to step out from a routine we've been in for years, if not decades, and think about things we didn't have time to think about. When smart people have time to think, they find solutions to make things alright. We will definitely find the way.

See the full #WFH Diaries series here.

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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