In continuation of our series on Zags Working from Home, we chat with Antonella Mediati, a ’96 Business Administration graduate and executive leadership coach based in Paris. Antonella works with tech companies as well as individual executives in France, throughout Europe, and in the USA designing and facilitating coaching programs tailored for high potential individuals and teams with a focus on performance and lasting, positive change. She has worked with some of the most influential companies over the past 24 years including Amazon, Microsoft, and Macy’s, as well as a tech startups IoT/Blockchain. (Some answers have been lightly edited for length and clarity.)
How long have you been working from home?
Antonella: I have had the opportunity to work partially at home for over 14 years when I started my career with Microsoft back in 2006. Now in my own coaching business, I use my home office in Paris as my home base, yet I often travel to meet with clients and businesses.
What are the biggest benefits of working from home?
Antonella: Having flexibility and autonomy. There is no need to commute and deal with traffic or public transportation. No interruptions. I can fit in a yoga class in the morning and be the boss of my own schedule.
What are the most challenging aspects of working from home?
Antonella: Creating structure and discipline in the day as well as the lack of human contact.
What three tips do you have for individuals who are new to working from home?
Antonella: Create your own structure and positive habits!
- Have a dedicated workspace. Based on studies from neuroscience, it is important to keep your space clean, uncluttered, and have a “something special” that is dedicated only for work, such as a special pen or notebook. If you have a dedicated desk or table that is a plus, but it’s not 100% necessary if you do not have this luxury.
- Schedule individual 25-90 minute focus times directly on your agenda every day and be reasonable with your “to-do” list. It is amazing how humans will prioritize scheduling meetings with others but rarely schedule dedicated “focus time” on their calendars. After 90 minutes of focused work, your brain needs to take a mental break. A great method that I follow and encourage clients to follow is the Pomodoro method, which you can find more about online.
- Use the Chunking Method. Reflect on your theme of what you need to accomplish ahead of time (no more than 2 at a time) and deconstruct them into “chunks” or categories that are much more manageable. Then further break this down into specific actions. By breaking down problems, your brain can deal with chunks one at a time and get you almost effortlessly to your end objective!
- At the beginning of the month: What 1-2 themes do you absolutely need to progress on by the end of the month? How will you feel when you accomplish this theme? Break these themes into categories.
- Sunday evening (for the week ahead): What can you realistically accomplish for the week? Break down your categories into subcategories and plan your workweek by day (at the beginning of every day). When things get tough, focus on the reward (how you will feel after accomplishing X).
- Every morning: Further break down your categories into daily tasks. Accomplish these tasks in 25-minute Pomodoro segments. Be realistic and give yourself a reasonable number of tasks to accomplish in the day.
What technology platform(s) do you find especially helpful to as you work from home?
- Zoom for video conferencing
- GSuite for all the collaborative tools (from the Cloud to Email to Calendar and more)
- Calendly to share my availability effortlessly with customers so we can focus on high-value discussions rather than schedules
- Doodle for group scheduling
- Canva – great for creating your own marketing flyers or online content
How do you create a community with your work colleagues without being in the same location?
Antonella: Being part of coaching and like-minded communities around the globe (NeuroLeadership, International Coaching Federation (ICF), WIAL, etc.) and having coaching colleagues and mentors in New York, Seattle, London, Germany, and Paris has been essential to exchanging perspectives and providing a community.
Do you find it helpful to create a dedicated office space to use as you work from home or do you change your work locations throughout the house throughout the day?
Antonella: Yes! I have my dedicated desk, notebook, and pen (as I mention above). However, in the summer months, I love to work outside on my terrace. Listening to the birds zooming by is the guilty pleasure I have during my breaks (that and I love coffee). Although recently, I had my window open and bird flew in while I was conducting a coaching session. I could not keep my cool.
Do you usually dress for work or comfort?
Antonella: I always start my day with a little yoga routine, then shower, eat breakfast and dress up in something that makes me happy. I always dress in something clean, sometimes colorful, yet always joyful to me. (I don’t like to wear shoes, however).
Are there any other insights you would like to add about working from home?
Antonella: During this COVID-19 time especially, check in with your emotions. Our brains and our subconscious are working on overdrive due to world events and it can hinder our concentration. It is important to be gentle with yourself and do a quick “labeling of your emotions” should you start to feel a bit stressed or anxious. As soon as you label the emotion, imagine releasing the emotion. It is a little Neuroscience trick than help you refocus.
Visit us again next week to hear from alum David Machado!