Our series Where I Work is exploring what it’s like to work from home, as the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing lockdown measures makes this the norm.
Today we’re chatting with Sami Wunder, 31, a dating and relationship expert who’s been working from home since 2016.
Her company serves more than 85,000 women from around the world, with the aim of helping them attract the right partner and have brilliant romantic relationships.
She’s used to her home being her office as the CEO of a company she’s built entirely from home.
But since coronavirus hit, she’s also juggling full-time care for her four-year-old son, Aaron – while also pregnant with her second child.
Hey, Sami! How has coronavirus changed the way you work?
I have built my entire company while working from home, since 2016, so corona didn’t change much for me in that respect, except that now I can’t run my in-person events.
When I first started my business, my son had just been born. It was not easy juggling a new-born with a new business but it was also a huge advantage to be able to work from home, at flexible hours and not have a boss telling me what to do.
Perhaps, the only difference coronavirus has made is that my kid is now home all day. He has a lot of energy and needs constant attention like all four year olds do. My husband and I have to both work, so it gives the word ‘juggling’ a whole new meaning and level.
But again thankfully, we have a big house and a nice, green garden where he can still let his energy out and we can still enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. That certainly helps.
Talk us through your working space
I have my own office in my house. I decorated it myself.
Inside it, I have a gorgeous Mahogany desk, a comfortable chair, my laptop, camera equipment, a book shelf, a red carpet and a vintage seating sofa for a guest. I have a gorgeous chandelier to light the room, which makes me very happy.
It is my own little work paradise. I also have some incense sticks that I occasionally use to perfume the room and always have my water bottle by my side to remember to stay hydrated during the day.
Behind my desk I have a collage of photos of some of my happy clients who have found love. I’ve helped over 170 women get engaged in the past four years so I love it when they send me engagement or wedding photos – I’ve also been invited along to a few of my client’s weddings too.
What’s a working day like in lockdown?
I wake up in the morning, do my usual morning meditation and hydration and then have my breakfast with my family.
Then I retreat into my office for two hours of focused work during which Chris is with Aaron. After this, it’s my turn babysitting while Chris works. Then we all get together for lunch.
A similar round of work and baby sitting follows and we stop working around 6pm, at which point we have dinner together.
Then Aaron goes to bed and Chris and I have some time for each other.
Do you find any parts of working from home challenging?
If I can be honest, I love working from home. One can get up and take a snack break just like that. One can work in a T-shirt and pyjamas without getting judged. One can be working and then take a break by going downstairs and putting on a Netflix show for an hour. The joys of it are actually limitless.
However, as with everything else in life, it’s not all hunky-dory. Having a four-year-old full-time with both partners working has been quite a challenging situation for Chris and myself to be in.
We didn’t want to increase our exposure risk by letting people into the house, so a babysitter is not a possibility at the moment either.
Chris is a very supportive husband, so he regulates with his boss when he works and we take rounds to spend time with Aaron and at the end of the day, we´re both quite tired by the time Aaron is in bed.
I also miss human contact sometimes and seeing my clients in person. I have had to cancel all my live luxury retreats and events this year, which are such a sought after offering in my company.
However, at the end of it all, I am still grateful that my company is doing well even during these crazy pandemic times. The need for love has not diminished. In fact, if anything, it has increased.
We’re lucky we live in an age where we can easily connect online, I recently launched a virtual dating kit and it’s been selling really well. I feel very grateful that I’m able to coach women all over the world to find love, even during these strange times.
How do you stay focused and get stuff done?
Having my own office at home, gives me personal space for work that helps me to separate from everyone and just focus on the job at hand, when I get started with my day.
Also, I’ve made it amply clear to my family, that just because I am home and wearing pyjamas, it does not mean that I can be disturbed when at my computer. At the beginning, my husband and my relatives would just come into my room and start talking to me. That would seriously disturb my concentration and was no fun.
Now, I simply lock the door when working, especially with clients and it has eased out those disturbances as it’s a clear signal to my peeps that right now is not the time.
I also do my best to have boundaries around my working hours. When working from home, it can be easy to just get sucked into your laptop and work all day, especially now during the quarantine when one doesn’t have too many options to go out.
Having designated hours for work and being disciplined around stopping at the agreed time has been great for my healthy and sanity. It also ensures I get ample time to spend with my loved ones.
How are you doing mentally amid the pandemic?
I am doing well mentally during the lockdown. I know there’s a lot of pain and suffering in the world right now but I also believe that by holding faith and positive thoughts during these times, we each do our part in empowering and strengthening the collective consciousness of humanity in fighting this disease.
The only challenging part for me has been being pregnant during the pandemic. All sorts of worries come up when visiting the hospitals for my doctor appointments and also, the idea of birthing and caring for a newborn. But I am taking one day at a time for now and praying for a healthier world each day.
What advice do you have for people newly working from home?
I’ve mastered being able to focus on my work while wearing pyjamas but if you’re new to this, it may actually help to dress for work, so that your brain and your family can recognise that even if you’re home, you’re actually working.
Be mindful around the time you spend on work. Make sure you’re not over-working just because there’s nothing else to do. I encourage my clients to intentionally shut off their computers at 6 pm, no matter what.
If you have kids in the household, take rounds looking after them with your partner.