*Written by fashion maven and PR powerhouse Gail McInnes. Gail is the founder and principle of fashion public relations agency Magnet Creative Managment, co-founder of Stylist Box and guru of all things Canadian fashion. Gail is also a working mom who has found herself working from home a lot more these days. She shares her secret weapon for staying connecting while working from home, no matter where you are.
In my line of business (working with fashion and lifestyle brands), a big part of my job is connecting and meeting with industry leaders, journalists, fashion stylists, personalities, and influencers. I miss being having in-person meetings. There is just nothing like seeing people in person – without a mask covering their face.
Before the pandemic, we were shifting towards more flexible work environments. Many offices were allowing their employees to work from home a couple of days a week, and coop work environments like We Work and Project Spaces were expanding across the country, allowing small business owners flexible, shared office space.
The pandemic has sped up our notion of what a work environment should be. Trend forecasters had predicted that where and how we work would be changing, but the pandemic has sped everything up.
We are in the new age of the office where, if you work predominately using a computer; we can work from anywhere—something many traditional fields resisted. The office needs to be mobile and flexible, and employer’s ability to adapt needs to come along with it too.
We’re no longer expecting to return to the office any time soon. Remote working and working from home is here to stay, and there’s nothing we can do to change that until either our numbers go down or the holy grail of a vaccine is discovered and delivered to the population.
Offering the flexibility of where to work is a luxury for many people, but if your role is mostly computer-based and you can hold meetings online, then why not offer your employees the flexibility to work where they feel most productive?
Many studies have shown that employees have been more productive during the pandemic. No more wasting time in the lunchroom chit-chatting with employees by the watercooler— being at home means you have to prove you are working hard and not wasting time; thus, productivity has risen immensely.
I started my business, Magnet Creative Management, over a decade ago in the basement of my 2-bedroom apartment on College Street in Toronto. Since then, I’ve worked from home on and off, in the showroom at my fashion showroom Stylist Box, on the floor backstage before fashion shows, private members clubs like Soho House and The Spoke Club, and hotel rooms while travel ling. Now I’m back at home again. All I need is my laptop, my phone, and an internet connection.
We can plop ourselves in a park and hotspot our phones (thank God for unlimited data plans) and work in the shade by a tree or, if you are lucky enough, you can escape the city while staying connected to clients and the office.
For those lucky enough to have a cottage, access to secure WiFi can be more challenging. If you are in an area where the majors aren’t servicing, the internet can be crazy expensive. For our family cottage, I was researching how much internet would be. The only provider I found was offering 1/5 the speed as the city AND charging three times as much.
Rather than fuss with a slow connection, we decided to install a signal booster, to improve the quality and reliability of our mobile phone signals, despite the more remote location. Cellular signal boosters amplify the cell signal in your home, regardless of the carrier or service provider. This way, we could all can have access to the web, hotspot our laptops and iPads to our phones and surf away. After researching a wide range of signal boosters, we installed the weBoost Home Complete system (ok, my husband installed it while I watched in admiration). This device can provide ample coverage for a home as large as 7500 sq ft, while amplifying signal from even the most distant cell towers (within reason of course).
The first weekend we installed it, I streamed Beyonce’s Black is King on Disney+ while my husband live-streamed the Raptors game. It was a dream! And we don’t have to move to the one corner of the cottage where we could find a signal. Now even if I have to work or my son needs to attend school online, my whole family can stay connected at our home away from home. We’re continually recommending our neighbors get one too.
Now that the second wave is here and the possibility of another lockdown looms, we know we can take off to the cottage and have internet access to work without any interruptions. If the third wave comes, you will know where to find me.
*header photo by Andrijana Bozic