Where I Work: Lesley, the CEO of Nicky Clarke hairdressing who’s working from home during the coronavirus lockdown
Our Where I Work daily series is going inside people’s home offices as the coronavirus lockdown makes working from home the norm. We’ve been inside a home office on a houseboat, met a barefoot athlete who has no chairs, and seen how a mum has made her daughter a mini desk so she can feel involved in the working day. Today we’re seeing how Lesley Clarke, 67, is working during the pandemic. Lesley is the CEO of the Nicky Clarke hairdressing, styling, and haircare empire, and also runs a new business called AZURE by Planet Friendly Beauty, offering a range of haircare products which are made from natural ingredients, are free from irritants and packaged sustainably.
Since lockdown began she’s been working from her home, where she lives alone, as her autoimmune condition makes her one of the vulnerable.
Hi, Lesley! Has coronavirus changed the way you work? I’m in the fortunate position of having my own office in our main offices and also a fully functioning office in my house. Before the lockdown I mainly worked from home and held lots of meetings both with external and internal people in my sitting room and dining room. I would go into the office if I needed to but found working from home helped me achieve more. What are your personal rules for working from home? How do you stay focused? I have a routine – although now my routine incorporates housework, which it didn’t before! I always get up at the same time and go to bed at the same time – this hasn’t changed. I never have a problem staying focused – to be honest, I have a problem switching off from work. I always make sure that I break for lunch and make sure I eat.
Talk us through your home office. I have a dedicated office. It has two desks, two computers, a printer, scanner, and a shredder. Lots and lots of bespoke filing cabinets, but I have had to add to this so it looks a bit messy now and not streamlined at all. I’m a bit anal about mess, so this upsets me a bit. The office has cream suede curtains, parquet flooring, bespoke oak filing cabinets. A glass desk and a white wooden desk. It is decorated in very calming colours. I do tend to work from other areas of my home too for a change of scenery – such as the sofa or dining room.
Have you found working in the lockdown challenging? I’m doing more video calls now, which I must confess, I don’t like! Although I am used to working from home I really miss the face to face interaction. I have never liked talking on the phone and I don’t think that will ever change – you can tell so much more about a situation face to face. What’s a working day like for you? I start my day at 9am and read as many newspapers as I can. I like to know what is going on as this can shape my outlook. I then go through all the emails that might have come in overnight from all of my companies.
Next up, I make a list of tasks that I want to do that day and make any phone calls that I have to make. Then I start answering all the emails that need my attention. To be honest, most of my day is taken up with emails. I also spend quite a bit of time on the internet looking at lifestyle. I break for lunch at 1:30pm and I might go into the garden for this and potter about a bit.
I finish work at 6pm. I do tend to work much longer than this but that will be sitting on the sofa instead of behind a desk. What advice do you have for people new to working from home? Plan a routine and stick to it. Make sure you have meal breaks and eat properly. Get up, have a shower and get dressed. Don’t work in your pyjamas – your mind set won’t be the same as if you are dressed.