curatd. Gets cosy with Leanne Wookey - Interiors Director of leading design and architecture firm tp bennett - chatting through her 2020 office setup and how she manages working from home.
How would you best describe what you do?As the Northern Interiors Director of tp bennett, I manage two teams across Manchester and Leeds, helping them to deliver exciting projects, keeping them inspired, connected and driven to provide the very best environments for our clients. I believe that everyone deserves great design and the greatest part of my role is encouraging our clients to collaborate with us on their design journey, allowing them to be part of the change they are aspiring to achieve.
Has your work changed much this year due to the pandemic?Interesting question. I would say the work hasn’t changed, I would say the way we approach certain aspects of it has. Our adaptability has proven key and allowed us to strive further; to excite and invigorate our clients to see an opportunity to evolve, take stock and really truly engage with their teams and what they want to achieve going forward.
What does your physical home working space set up look like?I work with two screens that sit alongside my task light on a 1400 x 800 mm desk. I use a Humanscale office chair and a footstool I made that helps keep my feet elevated when I need to stretch out. There’s a Muji Aroma Diffuser that kicks out Lavender vibes to keep me as relaxed as possible - helped along by my plants and headphones. My water bottle sits on a Terrazzo coaster I made before lockdown and I have a cafetière of coffee that holds up to eight cups, although I’ve had to make myself cut down. In terms of things to read, I have books, design magazines, a Dulux Trade swatch book, a Raj colouring book and a variety of notepads. My Site Kit is also always ready for me to rush off to site visits in Leeds and Manchester.
What does an average day look like for you?
Firstly, I check in with the team on Teams with a better Meme or Gif than the day before.
I always have coffee and pastries in hand - during lockdown I was very fortunate to have Pot Kettle Black bakehouse open to the public nearby, although that means I now always crave a Pain au Chocolat, so I’ve had to settle for mini pastries that I pop into the oven.
Teams calls with clients take up most of my day whilst we have been in lockdown unless I’m on a building site. I’m usually either presenting key stages or co-ordinating with the wider construction teams. I also often have design reviews with the teams which involves throwing ideas around, sharing inspiration we have found and sharing sketches.
Lunch can be at any time of the day - most days it’s later than it should be, which is something I’m trying to work on. Signing off at 6pm to join our TPB Yoga session from 6pm – 7pm is always a perfect way to end the day as well as catch up with our wider team down in London.
What's the one piece of equipment you couldn't work without?
My mouse. I obviously couldn’t work without my laptop but I am not a trackpad kind of Girl. Without my mouse, I would be lost!
Are there any rituals or self-care practices that have really helped you during this time?I have an hour in the morning that I dedicate to just me, a cuppa and the birds. Since lockdown has been relaxed, I have been trying to get in some swimming first thing too. There are also several practices we’ve put in place to stay connected to our TPB family - yoga classes, meditation and Friday drinks where we catch up about things that aren’t to do with work. I’ve also started facetime-ing with friends through the week - something I never did before lockdown at all.
What practices will you keep in your working life even post-pandemic?Making time for me. It’s very easy to let life become work and work become life - something that’s even harder to separate when your work is your passion. Something I used to feel guilty about was making plans during the week. Now I make sure that I take that time away from work because I understand the importance of doing so.
At what time of day do you feel most creative?Around 11am. Once I have eaten, done a little exercise, and had a coffee, my brain is in the best place.
At what time of day do you concentrate the best? Why?7am - when no one is emailing or calling me!
What has been the biggest challenge of working from home?I miss the social interaction with the team. We are a very collaborative and social bunch with a full mix of interests, which makes for a great environment. Although throughout lockdown we have had Monday morning catch-ups, show and tells and Friday drinks every week, we do all miss being in the same room as each other.
And what has been the best thing about it?The flexibility. To have time in the sun, and take time for things like a proper lunch instead of running from meeting to meeting. Balancing my life and work.
If you could use one word to describe how this year has been for you work-wise, what would it be?Resilient. We are all a lot more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. Being able to adapt in times like this as a business, as a team, as a person, teaches us things we never thought we would learn.
Want to know more about how curatd. can help with your working from home needs? Take a look here..