Luana Loria (Italy/Cultural projects) and Margarida Branco (Portugal/Distribution and retail) – Corona Story

Margarida Branco and Luana Loria

How is Luana coping with the crisis situation at her host enterprise, a bookstore in Lisbon, Portugal?

The bookstore “Ler Por Ai” (Lisbon, Portugal) closed on the 13th of March due to Covid-19 spreading across Europe and Portugal and according to the measure of the Government. I started my Erasmus exchange at the bookstore on the 3rd of February and due to the current situation, the owner Margarida and me talked about the opportunity to work by teleworking, although it would be not possible to perform all the tasks indicated in the work commitments. Therefore, I decided not to go back to my family’s house in Italy since I considered not safe traveling to go back to my country in this period and I chose to collaborate by teleworking with my HE, Margarida Branco, keeping on our exchange in Lisbon.

The communication with Margarida is daily established by WhatsApp, by email and by phone. About the tasks to perform, we decided that I will be more focused on researching contacts of writers, professors, journalists and academics to invite for the participation to the Thursday’s events “Noites de Prosa”, in which the purpose is discussing about literature and books. In this way, I will continue to learn how to organize events such as book presentations and literature’s talks. Another task which will be efficient to perform remotely will be researching new books theme and geography as finding Asian female writers and Lusophone African writers. In this way, I will still research geographies of future “book of the month” and suggesting related events.

Currently, it will be not possible to organize the bookshelves and to receive, income and provide books on consignment. It means that I will not be able to focus completely on gaining administrative skills regarding the management of a cultural project. However, using the books database, I will continue to organize, research theme and geography for each of the books and update the database with this information. This is a very time-consuming task, and will help organizing the bookshelves when we return to the bookshop.

The remote work will be executed using all the possible technological tools in order not to delay with the tasks indicated in the work commitment. My HE is searching for support from the State, for example the lay-off status, when incurring a “business crisis” because of the breakdown of economic activity due to the new coronavirus. The effect of the lay-off is the extraordinary support for the maintenance of employment contracts, with or without provision of activity, which lasts for one month, although it can be extended every month, exceptionally, up to a maximum of six months. My HE has explained to me that she is still searching for other direct financial supports and loans and we are in daily contact to talk about the tasks and the news about the support by the State. We are still in progress to make our remote work relationship more efficient and fluent. I believe that it is normal to find some difficulties and to take some time to organize it in a more productive way, since we are crossing a real exceptional historic period. I also believe that creativity and technology will be very helpful tools to reinvent and to concretize new ways of working. I will try to use them to share ideas and opinion with my HE in order to suggest new professional experiences in crisis time.