Our mini series Where I Work is looking at how the coronavirus pandemic is changing our working lives – as well as nosing around people’s snazzy home offices.
We’ve (virtually) met posture experts, barefoot athletes, and interior designers all getting stuff done amid lockdown by working from home.
Today we’re chatting with Elisa Pantazopoulos, 29, a jewellery maker, designer, and the founder of Eli-O jewellery.
Elisa splits her time between the flat she shares with her boyfriend in Geneva and her jewellery workshop – just a 30-minute walk away.
‘I think now more than ever we should support our local businesses,’ says Elisa. ‘They are what brings life to our city.
‘As a small business owner, I put so much heart and soul in everything I do and I hope you fee all the passion I put in making each and every one of your pieces! They bring a huge smile on my face.’
Hey, Elisa! Has coronavirus changed the way you work?
I feel pretty lucky because even during these hard times I’ve still been able to go to my workshop which is where I make my jewellery.
My schedule has definitely changed slightly, but I’ve tried to work as much as I can from home and then go to the workshop when necessary to make the pieces for my clients. Because I’ve always been an independent jeweller, I’m used to doing a lot of my admin work from home anyway!
Then I work on my actual pieces when in the workshop. So, nothing much really has changed for me apart from I organise my days differently. I try to stay at home as much as I can and then have more intensive days at the workshop to prevent going there too often.
Talk us through your working space.
I feel really, really lucky because my workshop is in such an amazing building.
It’s in an old-ish building where I share the workspace with other independent women. We have a little interior garden where we can enjoy the sun and everyone has their own space.
Even though I’m an independent worker, sharing my workplace with other women is always good because I never feel alone; but when I need my me-time I have the space to concentrate.
The building is pretty old, so we have really nice wooden floors and stone walls and I have a cute little corner as my showroom where I show my pieces to my clients and just underneath is my workshop.
So I have everything in a little space but it is all very cute and I feel very privileged to be able to work there.
What are your personal rules for getting stuff done? How do you stay focused?
One of the things I have to do when I wake up is write down all the things I need to do during the day, I usually write these lists days in advance so I know what’s coming next!
I’ll take on the list first as my priority and I make sure to work through each point properly so that everything on my agenda is done. For me that’s the best way to stay focused, it means I know my goals for the day and how I can achieve them.
Have you come up against any challenges working during lockdown?
As I was used to doing all my admin from home beforehand, the main thing that’s changed for me is that I just organise my days better. When I choose to stay home it’s for a few days and then when I choose to go to the workshop it’s also condensed into a few days.
What I usually do is start my day responding to emails at home and then I go to the workshop at 9:30/10:00am. But now because of the coronavirus, the days I have to go to the workshop must start really early and finish late, so that my work for the week can be done in two or three days and then all my admin can be done on the other one or two days.
What’s a working day like during the pandemic?
Usually I start my day around 8:00am. I start all of my admin, I’ll respond to all my emails and then pay or send invoices. Depending on how much admin I have, I generally go to the workshop around 9:30 and then start the day making the pieces for my clients.
Then I get home at around 7:00pm. Of course sometimes there is a larger load of admin, so I would stay at home longer in the morning, but usually that’s how my day is.
How are you doing mentally in lockdown?
Thankfully now I’m much calmer than I was in the beginning. In the beginning I struggled a little bit because I was anxious for my business, I was always trying to find a way to keep my business alive.
As everything began to fall into place I knew how to reach my clients via Instagram or email so I have still been able to have contact with my clients and my orders are still coming in. So I think that calmed me a little bit.
Of course the health situation around me was giving me a little bit of anxiety, but I guess in these strange times we’re all a bit uncertain.
I think everything is starting to become more normal. Every day is a new day and I think every day seems to go a bit better than before, so I am grateful.
How are you looking after yourself?
I feel so lucky to be able to work with my hands during these very difficult times. I’ve realised how making jewellery and working with my hands in general is actually incredibly meditative, it really calms my mind and my body. All the things that make me feel anxious I seem to totally forget about during the day, because I’m concentrating so hard on what I’m making.
I know that when you’re an independent brand it’s pretty difficult to separate your work from the normal everyday and general home life. With time, I’m definitely getting better with the balance and I try to not get too anxious about work and just live one day to the next – although I’m definitely not a pro at it!
What advice do you have for people newly working from home?
I think just be very organised and have your day with set business hours like you would have going into a workplace – I’d start your day at 8:30/9:00 and finish around 18:00/18:30.
I think the more you’re organised and committed to start early the better your day will be and you’ll be more focused on what you need to do.