Unpopular opinion: we not-so-secretly love working from home. Sure, we miss each other tons – but if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we thrive on flexibility. After months of settling into our WFH routines, we finally said goodbye to our iconic 122 John St. office for good. Of course, working from home has its own challenges, and like everyone else, Matte PR has been adjusting our practices to fit the new normal.
We asked Heidi Ruggier, Emily Black, Wendy So, and Ellyssa Gandhi to reflect on some of their new day-to-day activities and share valuable tips for others who are in the same boat. After all, we’re in this together – even if we’re apart.
Walk us through your new normal daily routine!
HR: But first, coffee. Lol. I wake up and walk over to the stovetop where I brew espresso in my trusty Bialetti. Then, I take some time to get ready and settle into the morning news. Once I’ve read through the papers, I delve into my emails, dedicating one hour to answering priority messages and filing ones that I plan to answer later. Then I delve into Asana and work on priority activities for the day. I am doing a 16:8 fast now, so I usually have hot water mugs with fresh ginger and then have my first meal in the afternoon. I am amazed by the sharp focus and mental clarity that comes with fasting. When work is all wrapped up, that’s when I do my @Rachel_Fitness. It’s 30 minutes per day of exercise isolating specific parts of the body. Then I cook dinner and relax for the evening. It’s essential to switch off. WFH shouldn’t mean work all the time. Before bed, I’ll usually read. Right now, I’m reading Call Me By Your Name for my book club. It started during the pandemic, and I’m really enjoying it!
In your opinion, what’s the best and worst thing about WFH?
EB: The best thing is having home cooked lunches every day and getting an extra thirty minutes/hour of sleep every night. The worst thing is not seeing the Matte PR girls and being able to bounce ideas off each other IRL. Luckily I can pester them over Slack all day every day.
WSO: The best thing is definitely being able to be in the comfort of your own home dressed in pajamas/loungewear all day. Also no more must-have morning coffees and commuting on public transit! The biggest downsides are not having an office space to go into, not being able to see the team face-to-face and being “too comfy” at home. Not physically moving as much as definitely pushed me to finally ignite a somewhat WFH workout routine.
Tell us about a pandemic purchase you otherwise probably would not have bought.
WSO: This has to be my laptop stand. Never owned one ever in the office but it’s been a big game changer. Adjusting the desk in my room to be fitting for WFH has been a journey, to say the least. Cue my adjustable laptop stand and backrest.
EG: Just like the rest of the world, I’ve been cooking a ton more during the last 8 months than ever before. In the past, I wasn’t always motivated to cook for myself – especially after coming home from a long day at work. Now that I’m cooking three meals a day, I was finally ready to spice things up and treat myself to Our Place’s Always Pan! It’s so beautiful and nothing sticks to it so far.
HR: A bike! In the early days of lockdown, I said, “When the stores reopen, I’m getting a bike.” It has been a joy to ride around rather than drive, and it’s something I will keep up as we move closer and closer to some form of ordinary life.
Did you get into any binge-worthy TV this year?
EB: SO much binge-worthy TV. The best by far has been I May Destroy You. It’s a must-watch for everyone. I also got super into 90 Day Fiance (sorry, not sorry).
EG: After staring at my computer all day, I don’t usually watch a ton of TV or movies. But, I finally started The Sopranos! It’s so much better than I expected and can’t believe it’s taken me this long. I’m on season 4/6 and don’t want it to end.
HR: I rarely binge watch (usually after a couple of episodes, I’ve had enough for the day). However, in the early days of the pandemic, I was totally captivated by Love Is Blind. It was the show we needed at the time. This winter, I’ll be getting a subscription to the Criterion Channel and organizing a film-club for two with Samira.
Quick – give some love to your favourite local restaurants!
HR: I was at Banu a couple of Fridays ago, and the weather was absolutely beautiful. Now that the city has moved the makeshift street patios, tables are simply put on the sidewalk. I love the ambiance of sitting at a table right on the sidewalk! It felt like I was at a cafe in Rome or Paris. I really hope we get to keep this vibe going post-Covid.
I recently had a magnificent meal at Yuugi Izakaya. The Hotate Wasabi is one of the best things I have tasted, ever. So so so delicious. Also, the grilled oyster. You need to have the grilled oyster. It’s an event.
EG: As much as I’ve been enjoying cooking a lot more, I do miss going out to eat – maybe even more than I miss seeing my friends. I will definitely be bringing home my favourite meals throughout the winter, both to show my support and to make sure I get my noodle fix! Chinese Dumplings on St. Clair is my new go-to for freshly made pan-fried dumplings and crispy, delicious noodles. I also order the mouthwatering Gyudon Bowl from Gyugyuya on Dundas for a range of occasions from celebrating to curing a hangover.
As we head into the gloomiest time of the year, what are your top three mental health hacks for those isolating?
WSO: First, I would say to make time out of your day to connect with friends online, whether through text, calls or video chat. Withholding some sort of social connection to your support systems when isolating is incredibly important. Second, play up your daily meals at home. Don’t just eat the same foods over and over again. Use the quarantine to try new recipes that you otherwise wouldn’t have tried because “ you don’t have time at home”. Lastly, rather than thinking of every day as the same being in isolation, think about what you can do differently. It can be changing up your WFH playlist or switching up the orders of how you regularly do routines. Small changes make a big difference.
EB: Try setting boundaries in your professional and personal lives. It’s easy to get stuck into a pattern of working long hours and not shutting off. Make sure you’re sticking to your regular work hours and allowing plenty of time for self-care (whether it’s a bath, reading a book, binge-watching trashy reality TV, or chatting with friends). It’s ok to say no to things, even if you don’t have any plans.
HR: I was that weird kid who would answer “Winter!” when asked what my favourite season was. I don’t do any snowboarding or tobogganing these days (thank you, bad back). But, I still appreciate the stunning beauty of fresh snow, winter air crispness, and indoor coziness. My winter hack this year is to make my home as cozy as possible. Soft blankets, simmering soups and soft candlelight will all help fill this winter with good vibes.
Want to know more about how we seamlessly transitioned and our best tips? Head over to PRDaily where our president Heidi Ruggier broke down her key tools for managing during WFH.