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 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, overseeing packaging and label design and digital content creation.
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 the two. 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, the conversations between Christoffer and myself 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 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?
My business coach 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 the list get carried over to the following day, which can make me feel 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, Lady-Brains and The Mentor with Mark Bouris.
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 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. Most people I know work far fewer hours than I do, but they 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 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.