WØRKS Co-Founder Suze Raymond sat down with Balance the Grind to discuss working from home, running a business during lockdown and the importance of work/life integration.
To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
Prior to co-founding WØRKS I had a 15-year career in commercial television as a producer and presenter at the Nine Network and Network Ten. During that time I worked predominantly in live broadcast, from the evening news and morning shows through to light entertainment and prime time productions like Hey Hey it’s Saturday.
My husband Christoffer and I founded WØRKS in early 2018 and now I work full-time as a Director of the company.
What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Most recently we’ve been developing several new collections of hand, body and home care products, which are slated for release in late Spring 2020. With that in mind, a lot of my energy over the past 12 months has been going towards product ideation, development and testing, and overseeing packaging and label design. So a typical day may involve anything from meeting with our organic chemist to test new formulations and liaising with our master perfumer to develop new scents, to negotiating wholesale trade deals and creating digital content.
We’ve also been building a new website, so I’ve been curating content for that. The new website will coincide with the launch of our new collections.
Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
I’m fortunate that my role allows me to work remotely. We have a warehouse where order fulfilment and wholesale distribution takes place, but for the most part my job can be done via laptop and phone in my home office.
I attend product meetings in person as they rely heavily on sensory experience, and I am present for things like photo shoots, but outside of that Zoom has made it easy to connect with suppliers and retailers in a way that still feels very real and personal.
I consider working from home to be a real luxury. Replacing the morning commute with a walk on the beach and having the flexibility to pop in and out of home life between tasks removes the traditional structure of the 9-5 workday. It doesn’t work for everyone, but I enjoy it.
What does work/life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
One of the reasons Christoffer and I started WØRKS was to pursue a positive work/life balance, so it’s definitely a high priority for us. To me, a healthy work/life balance means integrating my work life into my personal life instead of separating them. I strongly believe in doing work that fulfils personal values, not necessarily working less or creating strict barriers between work and personal life. It’s not a problem for me if the line between home and work is a little blurry.
As a husband and wife team, our conversations naturally segue into what’s happening in the business after hours and on weekends. We don’t see this as an issue, as those downtime periods are often when we’re at our most open minded and creative. We may hit a particularly creative streak and work through an entire weekend, but when that happens we stay mindful of taking a day or two off the following week so we don’t burn out.
We’re lucky that our roles are fluid and we can be quite flexible with our working hours. We see WØRKS as a lifestyle, not a job.
In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I have a fantastic business coach who recently introduced me to The List of Three. I’ve always started my work days by writing (admittedly unrealistic) to-do lists. By the end of the day at least 50% of the items on my list get carried over to the following day, which can make me feel overwhelmed and underproductive.
My coach instructed me to put only three items on my daily list. I thought this would reduce my productivity, but it’s made me feel calmer and more in control, given me the time and space to address those three essential items, and allowed me to gain a sense of satisfaction from finishing the list.
Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I’m a big fan of business podcasts, as I love hearing other people’s business journeys regardless of industry. With that in mind, I’m an avid listener of NPR’s How I Built This and The Mentor with Mark Bouris.
On a personal note, I find Stuff You Should Know weirdly fascinating and I enjoy Wine For Normal People, which is hosted by sommelier Elizabeth Schneider. The TED Radio Hour is a classic, and Dialling in with Habitus is a great insight into the design world.
I enjoy design-focussed newsletters that allow me to scroll through the latest in architecture, interiors, products and people. Some favourites are The Design Files, Yellow Trace, Habitus Living, The Local Project, Design Anthology, Australian Design Review, and est living.
Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I couldn’t live without my double shot soy latte first thing in the morning, so I’d have to say our ECM coffee machine. It’s programmed to turn on 20 minutes before I wake up so it’s ready to go as soon as I get out of bed.
If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I’m a first generation Australian, with my family on both sides being British. With that in mind I’ve always been intrigued by the British monarchy. I’d be fascinated to get an insight into how Queen Elizabeth II has historically balanced her royal duties with being a mother and, more recently, a grandmother.
Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
It’s a cliché, but you can’t underestimate the significance of working in a field you find personal value in. I know people who work far fewer hours than I do in jobs they dislike, and they only live for the weekend. I think that if your work aligns with your personal values, work/life balance has a way of falling into place.
From a practical perspective, if work is negatively impacting your home life because you simply don’t have enough time in the day, I’d suggest outsourcing some domestic duties. Finding a few extra hours a week by hiring a cleaner or subscribing to a grocery delivery service may allow you to achieve your work goals without dropping the ball on your home life.