by Roshawnna Novellus · 09 Jun 2020 · 4 min read
Being a leader in charge has always been in my blood. Growing up, I was a "bossy girl," the one with the ideas, the troublemaker, and the instigator. As the third of six children, I naturally fell into the mediator role between older and younger siblings. But when the older two left for the military or school and with both parents working full time, at 12-years-old I became the gal in charge, and I quickly grew to meet those challenging responsibilities.
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"Can you turn on your video, please?" That was about a year ago when I was on a global call. I was called out by another leader, and I totally panicked. No one ever had called me out for not having my video camera on during a meeting.
During a recent meeting on Microsoft Teams, I couldn't seem to get a single word out.
The coronavirus outbreak has required everyone to abruptly adjust their entire lives with little to no warning or time for preparation. Schools across the country closed in a matter of days, many businesses were suddenly forced to work from home until further notice, and individuals everywhere were left wondering how to get the basic daily necessities. As the founder and CEO of a company as well as the mother to a young boy, creating and sticking to this new normal has been quite an adjustment and doing it from multiple angles has been nothing short of a challenge.
I went from struggling to take vacation time as a first-time PR worker to working wherever and however I wanted.
I feel I'm at my most productive when I am free to travel, learn, and create without the constraints of geography, an office, or a time card. So, when I founded Final Straw just over two years ago, I sought to develop a company culture that inspired people to approach everyday problems with ingenuity, and was determined to create a team that was 100% remote. Initially, there were people who pointed out all of the reasons that a company operating remotely couldn't be successful; however, I knew that I could make the model work.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies were resistant to implementing remote work for a variety of reasons such as concerns about technology and infrastructure, a lack of trust that employees would get their jobs done, the longstanding (and understandable) bias in favor of face-to-face interactions, or some combination of these factors. However, not only has the COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to switch to remote work despite their reservations, it's clear at this point that it's going to be very hard to put the genie back in the bottle. Remote work is here to stay, at least partially. By analyzing the pros and cons of remote work we've witnessed over the past few months, we can apply various insights towards maximizing its benefits while minimizing the downsides.
We're living through an unprecedented time. It's scary, but I've been here. I started my career working for design firms in 1993, then added a side venture in the mid-90s, a custom kid's bed linen business that I ran for 10 years. In the late 90s, I added a second moonlighting layer (because who needs a social life in their 20s): smaller, then bigger interior design projects in whatever waking hours I had. In 2004, I got an opportunity from one of those side clients to launch my own interior design firm. It took a nagging gut instinct to make the leap, but I'm grateful that I said yes.