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Inside The Office

We Ask 10 Founders For Their Best Working From Home Tips

So, you’re working from home now. For those of us who aren’t used to doing it, trying to transition into work mode from the comfort of your living room may have you feeling less than productive.

We chatted with 10 female founders to find out their best tips and practices. Here’s what they had to say.

AMETTI, Tessa Horovitz

  1. Look good, feel good. It’s easy to stay in your pajamas all day while working from home. The clothes we wear affect our mindset and can really make a difference in our productivity levels. Wear something functional yet appealing to maintain your focus and motivation to stay on track.
  2. Make a to-do list. Write down everything you need to do for the day/week but play close attention to priorities and what needs to get done for that day and build out accordingly. This will help you prioritize your day to guarantee maximum efficiency and help you focus on what really matters first.
  3. Check in with your team often. During stressful times like these, knowing that you’ve got the support and trust of your team is vital. You can set up different video chats, virtual group chats, etc. to keep everyone connected and accountable. 

Astrid & Miyu – Connie Nam

  1. Get yourself into a routine – Just like going into work every day it’s so important to make sure you have a routine at home. Set your alarm an hour or so before you’re due to be at your desk or wherever is most comfortable for you to work. This will give you time to have breakfast, get showered and changed (avoid staying in your pajamas all day, however tempting that is). If you have enough time, pop out for some fresh air, do some meditation, settle your mind and mentally prepare yourself for the day.
  2. Make a to do list – During this time it can be quite overwhelming with news and updates coming in regularly which affect your everyday life and you can find yourself getting easily sucked in and distracted. To make sure you are still hitting your work goals and to keep yourself motivated, write a to do list. It’s so simple but everyone gets a little sense of achievement ticking off that task you really didn’t want to do. It will help keep you structured and motivated.
  3. Communication is key – The people we work with are the people we see more than anyone else so whilst we are working from home it’s important to stay in touch with these people for both work updates and also just to chat to someone who is going through the same thing that you are. We’re a tight knit team at Astrid & Miyu so we are having daily video calls throughout the day, but also twice a week towards the end of the day getting together on Skype with a glass of wine to unwind and to just have a chat (about non work related matters and Coronavirus).
  4. Make time to switch off – When you’re working from home its hard to stick to regular hours and to put the laptop away and just switch off, especially during these unprecedented times. But it’s so important to stick to that routine, give yourself a switch off time and spend times with your loved ones, reach out to friends, take part in activities you enjoy doing and keeping some sense of normality in your life!
  5. Stay positive – It’s a tough time at the moment but it’s really important to stay positive and be grateful for what you do have. We currently have a 30-day gratitude challenge at Astrid & Miyu. It’s just a simple rainbow coloured spreadsheet split between each of our Head Office team. Everyone has to write one daily thing they are grateful for. Some things are so heartwarming, and others will just give you a much-needed giggle.

Atelier Choux – Daniella Gelman

  1. Set up a daily schedule for yourself and your children and get them on board with it if they are old enough to understand. We find our children react really well to schedules and alarms – you can set these up on your phone.  While they do a specific task, you can try get in some laptop time or answer emails. [If it’s helpful we can share our actual schedule!]
  2. Have toddlers create pictures and cards for their friends at school – and send them digitally to the parents, or even by snail mail
  3. See if children want to facetime with their friends from school. Our 3-year-old loved doing this with another child in her class and it was adorable to see the interaction.
  4. The following have been really helpful – coloring books, index cards and markers, legos, playdough and temporary tattoos.
  5. Involve your children in cleaning up clutter, organizing their toys and even wiping down furniture. With some soap bubbles and gloves this can be a fun activity. This is a great time to get them involved in caring for their home.

BRABAR, Wendy Herman

  1. Make a weekly plan and try to schedule your entire week in advance. Staying on track and keeping a schedule and building a routine into your plan for the week is so important. Eliminate busy work focus on what matters during this time where anything can happen or change by the minute.
  2. Create the space you need to be productive. It’s important to have a space in your home where you can easily set up and get things done in a normal way. Being too comfortable at home or in a space that is hard to focus, can hinder you from staying focused and meeting regular deadlines.
  3. Optimize your stamina. It is important to carve out time for your personal health and wellness practices during this time – this can help with keeping your body on track and your mind at ease. If possible, go out for a walk or run around the block or at the local park and focus on the gift of being home with your family, your safety, and good health at this time.

Brassybra, Katherina Borve

  1. I think it’s important to distinguish between work and family, even when working from home. With two kids home it sometimes gets a little crazy when trying to have a meeting. iPads have saved me a little there, so the kids can focus on something else. It’s not easy to have a home office when the children are home so sometimes, I have to start my day with a workout before I start working, for me it helps to start the day.
  2. I try to make myself a cozy home office with some plants, some nice things at the desk, a nice notebook and water bottle or coffee cup. I dress comfortably and when it comes to lunch, we make it together.

Monique Morin Lingerie, Monique Morin

  1. Planning my day and calendar the same way I would in the office is the best way to stay productive.
  2. The increased number of emails and phone calls you get when working from home can significantly reduce your productivity. I find myself to be more productive when I have my phone on silent mode and only return calls and emails during a set time.
  3. I find file sharing apps and tools are essential to manage a remote team. Adobe creative cloud and Trello are working best for us.
  4. As most of the tasks are performed in front of the computer while working from home, I make sure to take breaks away from the computer a few times during the day to rest my eyes and relax my shoulders.
  5. Make sure you keep ergonomic seating positions during the day.
  6. Meal and snack preparation. You need to keep your energy level up.

Posh Peanut – Fiona Sahakian

  1. Try to have a lot of patience. Juggling distant learning with my kids and running a business in no joke. Set aside a few hours between meetings and work life to pay attention to their wants and needs. They’re also confused on why we’re spending so much time working and not playing with them between homework.
  2. I work with my kids around me. We don’t all have luxury of space to create a separate office. I believe your kids gain value from watching you hustle. For instance, yesterday we had a design meeting and I printed out sketches for my daughter to draw her own designs and create mood boards while I took the call. Get them involved if possible and it keeps them busy while you work.
  3. Breathe. We can’t juggle it all and that’s ok. We’re all doing our best.
  4. Wine.

Ruthie Davis – Ruthie Davis

  1. For me, it’s really important to get up, make my bed, take a shower and get dressed in a comfortable but still chic outfit while working from home. And of course, this includes some great shoes!  I usually wear my wedge or jogger sneakers while at home. I just like the feeling it gives me as I work in my home office. I am a visual person, so I like the vision of myself looking great in my office where I then design cool shoes!
  2. Another great tip while working from home is to take mini breaks from my desk and laptop and to do something physical. Between conference calls and emails, I will do a load of laundry, Swiffer the floor, organize the shoes in my closet or try on some apparel items that I may have ordered online.  The key is to do mini chores to get your blood flowing and not to get carried away with a big household project that will detract from your at home workday.

The Fold, Polly McMaster

  1. One of the most important things about being a leader is having sight of the bigger picture, but also being over the day-to-day running of the different teams. That is why communication is vital. Keep in regular contact with your team and make sure you all know what you are working towards. Let them know you are there and how they can still reach out to you for support and advice. Ok, so you can’t meet in person, but keep that one-to-one meeting in the diary and do it through Zoom or Skype. Face to face definitely is better where possible.
  2. Try and keep some boundaries. I try and keep home and work separate. I usually try and work away from home when I know the kids are there, but if I have no choice I’ll try and keep to a schedule. I work in my office and then once I am out of the office, I’m on ‘home time’ until the kids go to bed. I find that easier than letting the two merge – that way both get my full attention without distraction. I am lucky enough to have a husband who is in this with me 50/50 so we work together and help each other out when we know there’s a big meeting or challenge ahead. It’s about balance in your relationships too.
  3. Make sure you save some time for your own personal growth. If you are consumed by the day-to-day it’s really hard to make time for strategy and innovation which is crucial for the future of the business. Take the time to be inspired, make the most of your extended network and peers. I find meeting other business leaders and sharing advice, challenges, plans or just having a heart to heart over a virtual glass of wine is so beneficial.
  4. Utilize the advice and support of the board/ your investors. They will help you navigate your way through whatever issues/ challenges you might be having.

The Sis Kiss, Megan DiVincenzo

  1. Some wine and a prayer!

About the author

Natasha Zena

Around age eight Natasha Zena was told it was a woman’s job to take care of the home and since then she has built a career out of telling women they can do whatever the hell they want to do. She is the co-founder of Lioness, the go-to news source for everything female entrepreneur. Natasha was recognized as an emerging leader in digital media by The Poynter Institute and the National Association of Black Journalists. She has mentored women entrepreneurs and moderated panels at a number of national accelerators, Startup Weekends and conferences such as The Lean Startup Conference, the Massachusetts Conference for Women, Women Empower Expo and Smart Cities Connect. Natasha is also the author of the popular whitepaper, "How To Close The Gender Gap In Startup Land By 2021." In her spare time, she writes short fiction and hangs out with her son, Shaun.

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