Akos Papp, Freelance Creative Director

From the Whopper Detour to 5-month Covid Detour in the Amazon Rainforest. Akos Papp talks a bit about his experience getting stuck in Peru for 5 months unable to return home.

What was it like working remotely in the Amazon rainforest?

Besides all the stress that comes with being stuck in a foreign place, it was an eye-opening experience. The entire planet collectively tested remote work in 2020, but I -unintentionally- pushed the concept to the extreme. I was always a proponent of remote work, and always fantasized about the “digital nomad” lifestyle. But I don’t think I ever believed it is actually doable. But now, after doing it for 6 months from a remote jungle lodge, I have empirical evidence that it truly does work. Which makes me very excited about the future of our industry. Creativity has to be nurtured, and we have to face it: for some people, the office is not the most ideal environment to be creative.

What was the biggest challenge?

In terms of work, I don’t think I faced any challenges that the rest of my team who all WFH-d didn’t. That’s the beauty of it. Once you’re remote, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re in your Brooklyn apartment, or in the Amazon rainforest. You have access to the exact same things online. In terms of getting home, well, that was indeed quite a challenge.

How complicated was it to finally get home?

As non U.S. citizens, we couldn’t get on any of the U.S. “Repatriation flights”. We could have gone back to Europe, but The U.S. wouldn’t let people in from the E.U. So we were in this impossible situation for months. Finally we were able to get on a flight to Mexico, and from there we got on a commercial flight back to NYC.

What is something the industry isn’t paying attention to that they should?

Many companies plan on going back to the office once the world “gets back to normal”. But the truth is, a lot of creatives prefer working from home, or from a beach, or from a lodge in the Amazon. Not because they don’t want to work, or want to hide from their bosses, but because they are genuinely more productive and creative in a non-office environment. When an agency says they won’t allow remote, certain talent will just pick another place, that does. This way, agencies that won’t adapt, will miss out on a huge pool of creative talent.

What’s one thing from our current situation that you hope is part of the post-COVID world?

The absence of elevator small talk. Isn’t life just better without it? On a serious note though, I’m hoping for some sort of hybrid solution between office and remote work to be the standard in the industry even in post-COVID times. So everyone can work from wherever they want, but agencies would still have a physical community space, where people can gather, do work, and be human together.

By Sasha The Mensch