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Inside ASSOS During Lockdown.
Smart working translates into Italian as “lavoro agile” which is a pretty apt term for us at ASSOS. We’re staying agile, working smartly with technology, and making the most of the current situation so that we do our bit to flatten the curve — while still remaining firmly ahead of the curve when it comes to advancements in cycling apparel.
Among our Advanced Creative Design Centre — those responsible for developing, testing prototypes, and refining our collections—the restrictions on riding are hitting hard. With the ASSOS HQ on the border of Southern Switzerland and Italy’s northern province of Lombardy, there’s a split in the company with around half of the team under full Italian wfh, while the other half are able to ride their bikes.
We first caught up with Ribo, ACDC’s head development officer for his thoughts. He spoke to us from his family home in Italy, where an indoor rowing machine and his English Setter dogs form his daily training:“Right now we’re in the final phase of the Winter 21 collection, working solidly on Summer 22 and testing brand new fabrics for Winter 22. It’s an exciting time. Aside from a few of us not being able to test the prototypes in the usual manner, the most difficult aspect is in the execution. Of course, the designers can continue to design — but that’s as far as it goes right now. The pattern cutters, printers, and seamstresses can’t take the prototypes any further. Given this situation, we’re focused on gathering our ideas meticulously into a database and then collaboratively fine-tuning every concept, ready to be turned into prototypes as soon as the situation is back to normal. The same applies to our suppliers–we’re preparing briefings with detailed graphic sketches that we’ll send over as soon as the facilities reopen.”
CEO Derek Bouchard-Hall, based in Lugano, Switzerland. A former pro cyclist.
“Working from home has been OK so far. I have a good home office and everyone on my team communicates well via email, phone, and video conferencing. But it’s starting to get old. We at ASSOS went to remote working very early because we were concerned about the health of our team, so we have been working from home for weeks already. The novelty is wearing off, and I miss my colleagues.
I think the global cycling community has really done a good job understanding the importance of following the recommendations of one’s local authorities when it comes to cycling outdoors these days. We all need to continue that for as long as it takes. There are great ways to ride indoors today.
For those who can, short, solo local rides on quiet roads are a great way to reconnect with your local natural environment. I’m staying closer to home on my rides and only go for an hour or two. I look for the steepest climbs within a few kilometers of my house, rocket up them, and head home. I’ll do this in any weather — my closet can handle anything.
Soon enough, we all can get back to riding in groups and on greater adventures. Until then, there are many other ways to enjoy the bike and stay fit that are also wonderful. Keep riding, everyone — just be responsible and adapt!”
When not working, what does your day look like? My two teenage daughters are homebound too, and I try to have fun with them. Puzzles and garage tennis are big hits. More time with the family is an unexpected upside to this awful virus. We also have had some really nice family bike rides on very quiet roads — southern Switzerland is absolutely gorgeous this time of year.
Luca Zanasca, ACDC head engineering officer at ASSOS, based in Italy.
Elite marathon MTB racer.
“I race marathon MTB and so many races have been cancelled. I’m still riding a lot indoors and doing core training, like planks and proprioreception exercises, but the intensity is a lot lower than usual in the period. I rely on Zwift for group training rides, but I am currently riding without a specific objective — not knowing what, or when, the first race back will be. As soon as there’s some clarity on that front, then I’ll get back on a specific training schedule. I think it’s a good opportunity for everyone to learn how to be patient; the fitter we can keep in this period, the more prepared we’ll be (and the less chasing we’ll have to do) when the races restart.
I’ve been working from home for almost a month now. At the beginning it was a bit of a shock to the system, but now I’ve got into a good rhythm. It’s very different to working in the office—especially given my role at ASSOS.
I can still work as normal on the concept and theoretical aspects of designs as well as liasing with suppliers to ensure that the future collections stay on schedule, but the practical side — like prototype testing, which is a daily must for me––and the direct contact with colleagues just isn’t the same. We have to wait for this to pass.”
When not working, what does the rest of your day look like? I’m reorganising my house and trying to enjoy my free time in a different way than usual.
Do you have any indoor cycling-related tips and advice?
Stay hydrated. And try to focus—indoor training can get boring, so focus on an objective: are you doing it to keep fit, be ready for the next race, or something else?
Elisabetta Borghin, e-commerce inside sales & customer service rep at ASSOS, based in Italy.
“I don’t race but I ride my bike almost daily. What I’ve learned in this period is the importance of where you do your indoor training. I have to make sure it feels welcoming — music at full blast, with my bike on the balcony or in the garden. And I’m learning just how much you have to drink while on the trainer. I also do a lot of yoga and core training, so this is a good opportunity to work on those elements, which you shouldn’t underestimate on a bike.
I’m confident that I’ll stay in shape—all of us will. I’m taking my training on a week-by-week basis and making sure there’s as much diversity as possible. I’m also making sure that my nutrition stays on track too.
Are you working from home?
Yes, it has made a big difference to the way in which we work, and my own routine too. There have been ups and downs, but I’ve found where I can make small changes to habits to make things better each day. The biggest challenge is communicating with colleagues, keeping the workflow, and supporting each other.
The hardest thing is not being able to freely move around and visit friends and family. Here in Italy, you can’t just “go on a bike ride” or enjoy a hike with your dog in the mountains.
When not working, what does the rest of your day look like?
Busy in the kitchen trying new recipes, meeting friends online for e-aperitivos, and trying to get outside in my garden when the sun is out. It’s a good time to get your life in order, sort out your wardrobe, and make the most of living in your own space that you’ve created.
Jess Evans, ASSOS ambassador, Conwy, Wales.
When not riding her bike, Jess is part of the Community Therapy Services (NHS) Rapid response team — supporting hospital discharges and preventing admissions for elderly, vulnerable people. A rehabilitation team for anyone housebound.
“I’m 100% still riding my bike but I guess that training has changed. Without realising it I have been coming home from work mentally drained, lacking focus due to races being cancelled and my usual training/ turbo sessions have been put on hold. I was hoping to use some local time trials and maybe a road race or two to sharpen up for Battle on the Beach but obviously that is not possible now following the COVID-19 outbreak. I also had a few training camps planned over the coming months, the first of which was booked for April in Mallorca but due to the travel restrictions and the cycling ban in Spain, all trips have been postponed.
My plan going forward is to find my focus, ride little and often, and lose myself in the mountains.
Working, training, and racing full time can be relentless and tough. My advice is to stay focused and use this downtime to remember why you ride your bike in the first place and fall back in love with the simple pleasure of cycling.
Has your working situation changed?
Work has changed dramatically. At the moment I feel this is the calm before the storm; we are having daily meetings, problem solving, and preparing ourselves for what may lie ahead.
I would normally see between 8 to 10 patients a day at their homes for general strengthening exercises and progressing people back to being independent following hospital admission, but my current working day now consists of between 1 to 2 home visits — only if they are urgent and many follow-up phone calls as everyone is in self-isolation. I am talking my patients through their exercises and advising them the best I can at this difficult time and ensuring they are managing and not lonely during the isolation period.
The biggest challenge from a work perspective has been the uncertainty of my role over the next few weeks and months. I know that I will be involved, just not certain how. From a cycling point of view losing my target events has been tough, holding onto that gritty determination is hard without an end goal.