Operating from a different place could actually help to infuse more creativity into your profession and give your personal life a boost too.
Even as the pandemic has wreaked havoc, it has led to new ways of living. Many people have left the bigger cities for smaller towns where homes and the standard of living are more affordable. Others, who have deeper pockets, have chosen to move to places that offer more solitude and a better quality of life. The flexibility of the work-from-home culture has opened up a range of opportunities and options.
We talked to Veena Ashiya, Founder & Chief Energy Officer of footwear brand Monrow, to understand how she handles the specifics of working remotely from a resort in Goa, while her business continues to centre in the cities.
What gave you the idea to move elsewhere to work?
Being from the creative industry, I always have a constant urge to experience something new. When we all were hit by the second wave of the pandemic, fortunately, I was quarantined with my husband who is as creative as me and it felt like having two like minds in one room. No wonder that we were able to bring a bunch of creative ideas together to the table.
To highlight the best amongst them, was the decision to move to a place where panoramic views would inspire us. That led us to choose a scenic villa by Postcard Hotels & Resorts, whose founder is an ex-employee of Oberoi Hotels, which means exceptional service was guaranteed. This establishment based in Goa is a 300-year-old Portuguese villa, which continues to serve meals in the cutlery and crockery initially used by the family! We were thrilled by this concept of going back 300 years and living a peaceful life. It was truly an enigmatic experience, like a time machine that brought magic to our lives.
Did the new space help your creative processes? Does it show in your latest creations?
I feel that a new space and surroundings have been a massive inspiration for us. Our ‘pleasure of walking’ collection stands for the idea of enabling walking. This specific range consists of never-seen-before styles by Monrow, that have an alluring design and is functionally enabled which makes it ideal for any type of outing. A 15-minute walk inspired me to curate an entire footwear collection that can offer the pleasure of a small walk.
What were the challenges of being away from the city? Is a digital marketplace enough to sustain a business such as yours? What are the services that have supported your growth?
Being a founder of the footwear brand, I believe in the omnichannel experience. It was clear to me that if a brand can be formed digitally then it automatically becomes accessible for purchase and in order to provide this experience what’s better than retail. It’s like having a penfriend with whom you can connect virtually to share things but the impact that you gain from meeting them in person is wholesome as you make a connection with them on many levels. Similarly, it goes for any brand, as there’s a complete brigade of talented individuals behind it. Having said that, the same strategy worked magic for our brand as well. As a result, today Monrow is spread in 17 locations across India with some of the largest and most reputed partners on board like Reliance, Future Group, Project Eve, to name just a few.
Were others inspired by you to do something similar? What was the reaction of people close to you?
The best reaction I received was from my father, who gave me and my husband the title of King and Queen of Good Ideas. He appreciated and loved the fact that we did not compromise on our work, neither did we compromise on our desire to get stimulated by new things. So yes, cheers to that!
Do you think you will continue to work in the new space, or will you go back to your original arrangement once things return to the way they were before Covid?
Personally, after experiencing the hybrid model, it seems to me that it is impossible to go back to the traditional way of working, and that’s what I will be adopting for my 21-strong team too. However, we can’t deny the fact that the most productive and innovative work happens in the office, with the right company. I truly believe in the process where collaborative and creative forces come along when people sit together and work extensively.
But I now also believe that in addition to the work environment, it is important to have an ambience that brings you closer to nature. The idea of using 25 per cent of our office space for an indoor garden will not only help the employees feel better but also improve work efficiency. All this seems more important now than it ever did before.
You can do it too! Veena offers some tips on making the transition to working from a remote location…
- Give yourself time to adjust: Initially, it took a while to feel detached from our respective work desks and adjust.
- Make a checklist: It always helps to have a list of essentials to tick off so you know you won’t be stuck far away from your office, missing some small thing you need!
- Get connected: Before you move, make sure you have proper WiFi connectivity in order to work remotely in an efficient manner. Making sure that the working space was enabled with a quality internet connection to execute work flawlessly without any technical glitches is all important.
- Be comfortable: The next thing I paid close attention to was to have work-friendly furniture on which we could actually sit and do productive work comfortably. Once you have this – voila! – you are ready to spread your wings at work and then there is no looking back.
- Find a balance: I also ensure that post-work hours between six pm to nine pm is purely time for indulgence, in which I can pull off activities like swimming or running around the property on a daily basis. That is how you strike the perfect balance between work and personal life, and making the best of the location.