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My husband Sreejith Jeevan and I have been working from home, by choice, for almost four years now. It is a system that requires some level of scheduling combined with adaptability and certainly a lot of patience. It’s easy to forget that it’s home and easy to forget that it's an office. Being able to keep both in mind and structure our activities, accordingly, leaving just enough space for the odd mix-up, is very critical.
Anoodha Kunnath and her husband, Sreejith Jeevan have been working from home by choice, for almost four years now. Their home is a studio and office for Anoodha's production company, Curiouser as well as a retail space for Sreejith’s clothing brand, Rouka. Creating the perfect work-life balance requires some level of scheduling combined with adaptability and certainly a lot of patience. From the positives to the drawbacks of living in your workplace and working in your living space, the couple shares a few tips to keep in mind when it comes to working from home.
Our home in Kochi is also the studio and office for my production company, Curiouser Films, and the former garage of the two-block compound on which our home sits is now the retail space for Sreejith’s clothing brand, Rouka. This compound and its buildings were once home to Sreejith’s late grandparents, and much of the structure and foliage that we have is a result of their planning and foresight. About three and a half years ago, when our son was born, we decided to combine the spaces into both home and office, so that we could be around for him throughout the day. Our home is based on Ravipuram road, which is a busy street off Kochi’s main thoroughfare, MG Road. Living and working in one space has shaved off a considerable amount of travel for us, and in the current circumstance, feels like a blessing we hadn’t noticed before.
This is our typical day…
My husband and I wake up between six and 7:30 a.m., spend some time doing yoga on the terrace or meditate. The place is really quiet in the mornings before the area starts to bustle with activity once shops on the street open and traffic picks up.
Work time starts at 9:30 a.m. when the team gets to the studio. Once that happens then the entire ground floor is abuzz with work-related activity. Our three-year-old son Spandan spends his day in his first-floor playroom and the terrace when there’s no playschool; of course, occasionally he runs down to inform us of his playtime discoveries. We have a nanny for him till 5 p.m. After which, if he is not napping, he joins us in the workplace for an hour.
At 6 p.m. we gather for some tea and step out into the city for a bit, before returning for the night. The store closes at 7 p.m. and by the time we return, the house, as well as the roads around, would have quietened down.
The work space on the ground floor.
This is when we usually tend to the house, take stock of things, what has to be fixed or cleaned, and we get to some heavy gardening duties. Since the new strictures of the Corona-virus pandemic have been enforced, it's the only family that comes round and then the entire house, except the store area which is shut, becomes the family space. The terrace is the hotspot. An inflatable pool is pulled out for Spandan and his cousins, which would’ve been filled with rainwater from that morning, a few foldable chairs and small side tables for resting and snacking, and voila, terrace picnic.
There are drawbacks to living in your workplace and working in your living space..
While you may have set a routine for yourself, it takes time for everyone else to acknowledge and accept that fact. From casual house visits during work hours to errands, there are many friendly intrusions that you have to figure out and tactfully deal with. And it’s likely such situations wouldn’t have arisen if you were setting out from home for a nine to five job outside. The fact that anyone from work can see you at any time of the day—sometimes in your PJs if they turn up too early or when you are sick and haggard takes getting used to. Your life, you have to accept, is largely an open book.
Sliding panels were removed from old teak wood shelving in the studio converted to open shelves with office material and a small pooja corner. Repurposed bharani jars hold stationery.
The playroom evokes a childlike sensibility with a quirky use of repurposed fabric that forms a backdrop for Spandan’s cavorts.
A Hand painted in the balcony of the playroom
The positive side of working from home…
For us, the chief positive is constant childcare. The fact that one of us is always in the building, even if the other person has to be out on work. Or, even better, both of us are around even if we have help for Spandan. Our work is sometimes difficult to contain to a day. As entrepreneurs in design and filmmaking, we have to use both sides of the brain. So, on days when most of the work time go in figuring out logistics, accounts, and other mundane details, we use evenings, nights, and weekends for the creative thinking part of our work. And during such times, it is a huge advantage to be able to just go down a flight of stairs and access the studio.
What are the things you should keep in mind when it comes to working from home?
· A physical division or demarcation of the workspace, if possible, even if it is a corner of your dining table.
· A routine or timetable that will help you make sense of the time you have. To best harness the day, set aside separate time for work tasks and
domestic tasks. This is also an intangible way to send a message to colleagues and relatives that you must not be interrupted during the work
· Be sure about the routine or space divisions but not too rigid for it to ruin your day if there are any interferences. Keep some space for
· Also, be flexible about the use of spaces. For instance, your living room could end up being the shifting conference hall in case of staff meetings
or long concept discussions.
· Use multitasking furniture: In our case, the large office table also works as a dining table or display surface when we host get-togethers or
events. We like making changes over time, so we ensure that every piece of furniture we choose can multitask. So, having a unified sensibility
in both home and office definitely helps make this easier.
· The lighting in our workspaces is functional even though it's decorative. However, in the office, a black vintage cupboard with files and folders
does not look out of place or ‘un-office’ like.
· We’ve repurposed several objects. For instance, some of the items we used in our wedding decor like a selection of Bharani, or ceramic jars,
double up as both stationery holders, pickle jars, and even planters. As long as you have a unified taste, everything will always be useful.
The two storey home in the busy Kochi city centre was built in the 1960s
The living room on the ground floor has been decorated with personal items that have a resonance for both Anoodha and Sreejith.
We are both children of parents who have had interfaith marriages. So this collage artwork represents deities from both faiths.
A pin-up board in the studio for schedules, tasks, woven fabric samples, brainstorming, moodboards and concepts.
The artworks on the walls in Spandan’s playroom are all about him or by him. To match his enthusiasm all the furnishing highlights are in bright colours with accessories made from repurposed fabric.
Family heirlooms are part of the decor and functionality alike. Many pieces of furniture are timeless classics from the 60s and 70s, all crafted in wood and still retaining the aura and memories of the people who used them.
Spandan’s play room.
All the artworks have been done by one of the three family members and resonates with Kerala scenes.
A view of the workspace from the hall.
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