How th­ese cor­po­rate women shifted from the board­room to WFH (and even started home-based new busi­nesses)

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HALF a year af­ter the deadly virus started rav­aging our pop­u­lace, the pan­demic is shap­ing up to be a marathon—not a sprint. With the fin­ish line not yet in sight, "work from home" has be­come the mode of sur­vival for a great num­ber of pro­fes­sion­als.

And we all have come to terms with it. Bosses who once re­sisted the idea of "telecom­mut­ing" have hap­pily em­braced it. And so have their staff. Ev­ery­one now sa­vors more time for leisurely break­fasts and soak­ing in the morn­ing sun in­stead of rush­ing through in­tol­er­a­ble traf­fic. And what’s not to like about wak­ing up a bit late or work­ing be­yond "of­fice hours" as long as one keeps an eye on the bot­tom line?

Still, WFH tends to blur the lines be­tween the start of of­fi­cial work hours and the end— or when we can fi­nally re­lax and call it a day. More of­ten than not, this is when some dif­fi­cul­ties arise.

Here, four dy­namic women achiev­ers— and bosses all— that I am par­tic­u­larly close to re­late how they suc­cess­fully piv­oted to WFH mode and share more use­ful in­sights than I asked for. Th­ese ex­cep­tion­ally cre­ative, hard­work­ing ladies were not just un­daunted by the chal­lenges they ini­tially faced— they also found new op­por­tu­ni­ties or ad­di­tional busi­ness ideas that make them even busier and more ful­filled. To top it all, they like­wise found time to pur­sue their per­sonal pas­sion projects while work­ing from home.

Daisy Yu­nam Go For­mer Pres­i­dent of Wran­gler-philip­pines Founder: Awed­i­ble Con­cepts Con­sul­tancy & Mar­ket­ing Ser­vices Founder: Daisy's Cor­ner

Comi ng from my for­mer strictly cor­po­rate setup, here are some tips for adapt­ing to work­from-home rou­tines that in­clude zoom meet­ings as the new norm:

Wake up with a grate­ful heart. If you are alive and healthy and still have work to do, you are one of the lucky few! Get your­self in the right mind­set. Put on a com­fort­able but pro­fes­sional-look­ing top. And a lit­tle makeup won’t hurt. It’s not just about look­ing good; smelling good also stim­u­lates pos­i­tive vibes and makes you feel more con­fi­dent. Go ahead and spritz on your fa­vorite fra­grance. Find a quiet cor­ner in the house where you will not be dis­rupted by your kids or pets. Al­ways give 10 to 15 min­utes al­lowance. Go to your zoom meet­ing ear­lier in case there are some tech­ni­cal glitches.

On the other hand, those who have or are mi­grat­ing from cor­po­rate work to en­trepreneur­ship need a dif­fer­ent set of "sur­vival tips" dur­ing the pan­demic. Here are a few:

Be self-re­liant. You no longer have an ex­ec­u­tive as­sis­tant nor a mes­sen­ger to run er­rands for you. Learn to or­ga­nize your tasks and todo lists. Now is the time to ac­quire the dig­i­tal skills that you never had the op­por­tu­nity to learn. You will need th­ese skills to man­age your on­line busi­ness and to make life eas­ier for you.

Want to build a busi­ness but don’t know where to start? Look at things clos­est to your heart. Start from there and fo­cus on one thing— whether it’s food, bev­er­age, plants, pho­tog­ra­phy or even pet groom­ing.

When con­sid­er­ing ideas for your own busi­ness, aim to fill a gap in the mar­ket that other com­peti­tors have not filled in yet. Don’t be a “me-too” just be­cause ev­ery­one is do­ing it.

Be kind to your sup­pli­ers, cus­tomers, and even non­cus­tomers. You will need their sup­port to grow your busi­ness.

Fi­nally, keep your fo­cus, have a gen­eral plan, but keep your eyes peeled for op­por­tu­ni­ties along the way.

Faith Fer­nan­dez-mon­de­jar For­mer Direc­tor for Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, Avon APAC and Philip­pines Pres­i­dent and Owner of Good Faith PR and For­mag­gi­cal Foods

Afte r 19 years of ser­vice, the last three as direc­tor for Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, Asia-pa­cific and Philip­pines, I left Avon in March 2019. While it was in­ten­tional on my part to spend time and travel with fam­ily, and not rush into any­thing as I de­ter­mined the next leg of my ca­reer jour­ney, I re­mained fully con­scious of my de­sire to con­tinue grow­ing as a PR and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion pro­fes­sional. This led me to set up my own PR con­sul­tancy, Good Faith PR.

The first quar­ter of 2020 would have seen me work­ing on my first two projects but alas, the pan­demic struck and th­ese projects got shelved. Life in quar­an­tine, while it has shown the vary­ing facets of crazy and chal­leng­ing, be­came an op­por­tu­nity for me to un­leash a new pas­sion— cre­at­ing cheese­cake desserts. Af­ter fam­ily and friends raved about my sig­na­ture Peanut But­ter Cheese­cake, I re­al­ized I should spread this new­found love.

This gave birth to For­mag­gi­cal, my small on­line busi­ness of­fer­ing ar­ti­sanal cheese­cakes. Our first cus­tomers were fam­ily and friends but word- of- mouth feed­back helped spread the magic and sent new cus­tomers our way. Mak­ing cheese­cakes for For­mag­gi­cal and do­ing speak­ing en­gage­ments for Good Faith PR have cer­tainly kept my cal­en­dar full. Th­ese are the things that I find com­plete joy in do­ing. With PR pen in one hand and a whisk in the other, I am liv­ing up to my name, keep­ing faith and stay­ing hope­ful dur­ing this time of great dis­rup­tion.

How do I man­age to still look pro­fes­sional while work­ing from home?

Dur­ing des­ig­nated WFH days when I was still in cor­po­rate, I al­ready es­poused the prac­tice of dress­ing up even while at home. Putting on pretty clothes or sleek cor­po­rate at­tire has al­ways helped me tran­si­tion from my home per­sona to my pro­fes­sional per­sona.

When I re­tired, I made care­ful choices in what I would wear in­side the house on “work days.” Hav­ing nowhere to go was no rea­son not to dress up a lit­tle. Most of the time, a ca­sual out­fit that I felt com­fort­able in would do the trick. It could be a sim­ple slip dress or a week­end top jazzed up with one or two ac­ces­sories like a ban­gle or a nice pair of drop ear­rings.

A prac­ti­cal side to dress­ing up is that my clothes are not go­ing to waste. I get to use them, and let them spark a smidgen of much­needed joy dur­ing this pe­riod of re­stric­tions and trou­bling news. And at this time when a health cri­sis seems to have ban­ished all sense of nor­malcy, I never un­der­es­ti­mate the power of a bright lip color and the ben­e­fits of mois­tur­izer on my skin.

Nikki Bon­can Buen­salido Design Am­bas­sador, As­so­ci­ate Ar­chi­tect Vp-busi­ness De­vel­op­ment, Buen­salido+ar­chi­tects

It has been six months since the lock­down and it took a while for me to ad­just and find my bear­ings again. One day, we all found our­selves in the dark fig­ur­ing out how to op­er­ate our of­fice and work from home. It was not an easy tran­si­tion but with my hus­band lead­ing the way, we fig­ured out how to run our ar­chi­tec­tural firm re­motely, tak­ing it one day at a time.

Be­fore the pan­demic, I helped run our ar­chi­tec­tural firm, Buen­salido Ar­chi­tects, with my hus­band Ja­son but I was also a hands- on mom to our four-year- old daugh­ter. Fast for­ward to six months later, my roles have changed. I still man­age the busi­ness part of the firm while or­ga­niz­ing our B+ab­ble com­mu­nity talks on­line. I have also be­come a full-time mom and teacher to my daugh­ter. It has been quite a chal­lenge to do both, but by God’s grace, I am able to work while cher­ish­ing ev­ery mo­ment with my daugh­ter. More­over, I am more hands- on in run­ning the house­hold. I have started bak­ing bread and pas­tries for my hus­band, and tak­ing care of our small ur­ban veg­gie gar­den. And to help farm­ers in Baguio, I re­cently started sell­ing veg­eta­bles and fresh pro­duce in our lo­cal com­mu­nity with the help of my mom and sis­ter.

My hus­band and I have also con­ceived of ways on how to help our of­fice com­mu­nity. We are blessed with a team of tal­ented ar­chi­tects and artists whom we en­cour­aged to cre­ate art that inspires oth­ers to dream and imag­ine pos­si­bil­i­ties. We com­mis­sioned them to come up with play­ful art, dig­i­tal art­work, paint­ings, and sculp­ture that we can sell to help them earn a lit­tle ex­tra on the side.

Ar­ti­sanal Ar­chi­tec­ture, or AA, was born. Ar­ti­sanal Ar­chi­tec­ture is an ex­per­i­men­tal, multi- dis­ci­plinary, dig­i­tal plat­form de­signed to em­power cre­atives to ex­press them­selves, showcase their artis­tic ca­pa­bil­i­ties, and send mean­ing­ful and so­cially rel­e­vant mes­sages through the pro­duc­tion of op­ti­mistic, ar­chi­tec­ture- cen­tric art (or in the fu­ture, art­cen­tric ar­chi­tec­ture) that will hope­fully in­spire peo­ple to ef­fect pos­i­tive change to­ward a bet­ter built en­vi­ron­ment and, there­fore, a bet­ter world. This ini­tia­tive was meant to as­sist cre­atives in ac­quir­ing other sources of in­come dur­ing the chal­leng­ing times of the pan­demic and even be­yond.

The past six months have truly been a chal­lenge for me but God has also taught me to look be­yond the present and fo­cus on Him and His prom­ises for me. That’s what keeps me go­ing. I take it one day, one hour at a time, and I am ex­tremely grate­ful for the grace and fa­vor that God has been show­ing us since the be­gin­ning of the lock­down. It hasn’t been a walk in the park but it sure has taught me that I can do more and be more for oth­ers.

Cristina Ong-cruz Direc­tor of Sales and Mar­ket­ing Marco Polo Or­ti­gas, Manila

Work­ing from home has its gains and some chal­lenges.

We speak of gains when we re­al­ize that there are so many things you can do dig­i­tally in terms of meet­ings, calls, re­ports, and fol­lowthrough­s from home. You sim­ply need good In­ter­net con­nec­tion, ad­e­quate workspace, and a lap­top that is equipped to ac­cess re­ports and data needed. Vir­tual meet­ings, vir­tual ocu­lar in­spec­tion (amaz­ingly done by the team), meet­ing min­utes and slides can be shared in dif­fer­ent plat­forms such as zoom, teams, and google meet. One ad­van­tage I have that I ap­pre­ci­ate is a great view of the pool and the lush land­scape of the com­mu­nity. I can play mu­sic I like through “hey Google,” which is like Alexa. This en­hances my cre­ativ­ity.

The dis­ad­van­tage, of course, is time.you can­not sim­ply log out when work is done. At home, work can ex­tend un­til mid­night— even on week­ends— es­pe­cially when clients are on a dif­fer­ent time zone and when co­or­di­na­tion of group ar­rivals is needed.

On the plus side, quar­an­tine mea­sures have given me more time to de­velop other in­ter­ests such as tak­ing care and ar­rang­ing small and medium-sized plants, stuff that give me joy. I also learned how to do on­line pasabuy of es­sen­tials such as vi­ta­mins. I have also started ask­ing neigh­bors if they need to pasabuy. This al­lows me to get bet­ter vol­ume dis­counts on the items I like. Even bet­ter, I have built stronger re­la­tion­ships in the com­mu­nity where I live.

Over­all, WFH has made me re­al­ize what in­cred­i­ble bless­ings I have and led me to learn new skills that I wouldn’t have thought of at any other time.

PR Mat­ters is a round­table column by mem­bers of the lo­cal chap­ter of the United King­dom-based In­ter­na­tional Pub­lic Re­la­tions As­so­ci­a­tion (Ipra), the world’s premiere as­so­ci­a­tion for se­nior com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­fes­sion­als around the world. Joy Lu­mawig-buen­salido is the Pres­i­dent and CEO of Buen­salido & As­so­ciates Pub­lic Re­la­tions. ask­ipraphil@gmail.com.

PR Mat­ters By Joy Lu­mawig-buen­salido

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