Why Oriflame India’s MD Frederic Widell won’t go back to the office every day

Lockdown CEO Diaries: From hating work from home, Frederic Widell, VP-Head of South Asia & MD, Oriflame India has come a long way to thinking of it as an alternative work option.

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What helped Oriflame India's MD Frederic Widell maintain his productivity during lockdown is sticking to the same work schedule as before

Lockdown CEO Diaries: From hating work from home, Frederic Widell, VP-Head of South Asia & MD, Oriflame India has come a long way to thinking of it as an alternative work option.

In the beginning when the lockdown was announced he didn’t have any dedicated workspace at home. It wasn’t an option for him then. “To be honest I hated working from home. I always felt when you come home after a long day at work you need time to disconnect,” says Widell.

He even had doubts about working and managing his company remotely. “I was very skeptical, I was also fearful of what would happen, and how could I lead the team effectively from home. I was a bit worried about Oriflame in general, in India,” he says.

But, he quickly adapted and created multiple workspaces to cater to different work demands. “I do many different types of meetings, it could be one to one, one to 10, one to 2,000, or even one to 5,000. So, I invested in new technological support tools for these varied requirements,” says Widell.

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For his large public appearances, he built a home studio with a tripod, a screen to project on, lapel mics, LED Ring Lights amongst others. Then there is a nice lounge setting with his home library as the backdrop. And lastly, there is his favourite outdoor workspace where he spends most of his time, especially in the months of February and November when the weather is nice in Delhi. “That’s where I do more internal stuff with my staff because it can get a bit noisy due to the birds,” he says.

But, what helped him maintain his productivity is sticking to the same work schedule as before. “I very quickly realised that I have to adapt to the same discipline as before,” he says. He kept to a similar sleeping pattern, meal timings and working hours. “I think that’s difficult for many people, but I’m happy that I managed that,” he says.

What he was careful about was not overworking. “It’s very easy from home that you overwork. Somebody sends you an email and there is a feeling to reply immediately. So, when I stopped working I distanced myself from the computer and read a book or watched Netflix. It is important because there’s a day tomorrow also,” says Widell.

But, would he go back to his original schedule once the office reopens? “I will not revert back to 100% office attendance when the pandemic is over. I think I will probably practice three days in the office and two days from home,” he says.

The year has taught him what works while working from home and what doesn’t. Work from home certainly works for individual work that requires peace and quiet. But, it doesn’t work for culture building or collaboration. “Creativity, innovation and brainstorming is difficult while working remotely and it can impact the business in the long term. So I also want to be in office at least three days a week and meet people at work,” he says.

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