“My four-year-old has an uncanny ability to pop in during my most important meetings”: How Torontonians are coping with working from home

“My four-year-old has an uncanny ability to pop in during my most important meetings”: How Torontonians are coping with working from home

In the before-times, “working from home” was something you told your boss when you were too hungover to face a day at the office. Now it’s a global imperative, and those of us who are fortunate enough to still be employed are juggling Slack, Zoom, kids and pets. Hopefully, things will go back to normal sooner than later. In the meantime, here’s a look at how some prominent Torontonians have embraced the new normal.

Steve Paikin—TV anchor, The Agenda

From his home office in the attic, Yonge and Eglinton

“My home office has always been in the attic. To borrow from a book title, it’s far from the madding crowd—nice and quiet. It’s where I usually prep for The Agenda, which made it the obvious place to set up a makeshift studio. We had an external camera and a microphone delivered. Everything is functional, but I prefer working from the studio. There’s nothing like interviewing a guest who’s sitting a few feet away. That’s how the most memorable conversations happen.”

Natasha Walji—director, Google Canada

From the couch in her lounge, Parkview Hills

“The room is bright, sparks creativity and has a window overlooking a lovely oak tree in our front yard. My favourite art piece, a colourful oil painting, hangs on the wall. It fills me with inspiration. There’s just enough space around the couch to do quick yoga stretches when I need a break from sitting in my chair. I miss the buzz of the office, though. My four-year-old daughter is the biggest disruptor. She has an uncanny ability to pop in and say hello to everyone during my most important meetings.”

Mohamed Lachemi—president and vice-chancellor, Ryerson University

From his home office, Mississauga

“There are six of us living at home right now. I share the office with my daughter, an interior designer, because she also needs to use the computer. But the space is quiet, and I can get privacy when necessary. My days are filled with virtual meetings and conference calls, making sure the university can operate. The best part is that I don’t have to commute, which usually takes an hour each way. Now, the whole family can eat dinner together, which is a blessing during these challenging times.”

Photo courtesy of Joanna Griffiths
Joanna Griffiths—founder and CEO, Knixwear

From her office and workout room, Deer Park

“When we designed this house, I put my office and workout area in the room with the most sunlight, hoping it would encourage me to exercise more and work from home. Spoiler: it didn’t work. Before self-isolation, I barely used this room. Now, it’s where I spend more than 14 hours a day. My biggest complaints are that it gets too warm because of the windows and I constantly feel like I should be exercising. Which aren’t real problems. I’m one of the luckiest people in the city.”

Roy Gori—president and CEO, Manulife

From his home office, Midtown

“My home office is a good, quiet place to work, even though my dog, Monty, interrupts from time to time. My favourite part about working from home is getting to eat lunch with my family. They’re always making me laugh. I also like being able to hop on my bike trainer. I think it’s important to break up the day with a bit of exercise. The most frustrating part of self-isolation is not connecting face to face with my colleagues, but I know everyone is working really hard right now.”

Annamaria Enenajor—partner, Ruby Shiller Enenajor DiGiuseppe, Barristers

From the couch in her living room, the Annex

“I like working on my big couch, surrounded by a bunch of pillows. I’m nine months pregnant, so if I’m not comfortable, nothing gets done. My couch functions as a cushy command centre: I can spread books, documents and computers around me. I also always have my phone by my side. It’s my lifeline to the outside world. The living room isn’t a bad setup in terms of productivity, but I miss the social interaction that comes with being in court all the time. I miss my colleagues, too.”

Siamak Hariri—co-founder, Hariri Pontarini Architects

From his home office, Summerhill

“This is my ‘treehouse,’ an upstairs room where I can look far into the distance and future. Working from home is all about surrounding myself with beauty to keep my spirits high. I miss working in the studio, where it’s very hands-on, sketching and making models, riffing off one another. It’s similar to jazz music, which involves constantly rebounding ideas. It’s hard to do that over Zoom. The quietude of home, however, has created a wonderful sense of pause and reflection.”

Stephan Jost—director and CEO, Art Gallery of Ontario

From the sewing nook in his basement, Little Italy

“Few people know that I’m an enthusiastic, if untalented, tailor. Usually when I’m down in the sewing area, I’m making dresses for my daughter Monique. But during self-isolation, I’m spending eight hours a day on the phone, in lieu of my regular in-person communication at the gallery. The key to a good home office is ample light, technology and a big glass of water. Our home art collection has become more important, because it reflects the potential of human creativity to solve problems.”