What do a script writer, a restauranteur, personal trainer and a planning creative have in common? Morning rituals and great socks, that’s what …
After months of disruption to our typical work/life routines, and a serious shake up to the way many of us view our ‘office’ and our professional style, the traditional September reset may look a bit different for people this year. While some will be heading back into the boardrooms again, many will be settling into new rhythms. No matter where you work though, your morning routine, what you wear and your personal professional style are integral to tackling each day with positivity and confidence. In this second part of our Own Your Office series, we caught up with four LSC gents to find out how they own their office and what helps them walk brighter.
Daniel Alexis is a writer and creative consultant who works with brands on award-winning campaigns and writes scripts for TV.
I usually wake up naturally between 5am and 6am and spring out of bed with a new idea or a solution to a writing problem that’s been bugging me. This year I’ve been co-creating an original TV drama series with my writing partner James Barber and Can Can Productions, so I’ll head straight for the coffee machine while trading voice notes with James about a ‘new direction’ or script edit. Then I’ll check my various work email accounts and write a to-do list. I’ll flit between Radio 4 Today, LBC and Twitter for news and inspiration, and if I’m working from home I’ll enjoy a long hot bath and read, then nip out for a walk, pick up some breakfast and be back at my desk ready to start work at 9am.
I’ve spent the majority of the past twenty years working in corporate and creative offices in Central London, so I’ve always dressed in formal business attire or semi-casual. Shirts, preppy blazers, nice shoes, and suits when necessary. But lockdown was a revelation. I bought sweatpants and trainers for the first time ages, and have found it hard to return full time to my old wardrobe. So, now it’s a bit of a mish-mash – my look is way more casual and I love it. Lots of comfortable clothing, lots of black, but I like a loud print or bold colour pop too. Now, whether I’m going into town for a meeting, working from home, or spending the day writing from my favourite Japanese restaurant, Kibou London, I like to feel comfortable as opposed to adhering to previously assumed dress codes as I used to. I’ve also started wearing jewellery too which I never did before.
The enforced work from home scenario during lockdown made me realise how much more efficient I am when I don’t have to go to an office five days a week. I was wasting over three hours a day going back and forth. These could’ve been put to better use, when you factor in getting ready, commuting, dedicated lunch hour, chats at the watercooler etc. After realising this, I wanted to cut back on my days in the office and work from home almost entirely from this autumn. I consult for a wonderful creative agency – working with their luxury clients on marketing, advertising and PR campaigns – and I spend the rest of my time writing and developing my original TV drama and comedy projects, as well as being part of the writing team for a continuing drama series which airs on Channel Four throughout the year. In terms of work/life balance it’s the happiest I’ve ever been. So much variety. I get to do all the work I love with the added bonus of more time to read, exercise, travel, see friends and family, and spend quality time with my husband. It’s perfect.
Switching to autumn/winter the shorts will go to the back of the cupboard and the jeans, chunky knits, leather jacket and overcoats will come out. But I always love a pop of colour, hence why I love London Sock Company so much. So it’s ‘all black everything’ teamed with a bright sock, Spotify in my ears at all times, and lost in my own colourful world even when it’s raining cats and dogs and the London Underground is at capacity. I still have a spring in my step and a smile on my face no matter the weather or the location I call my office from one day to the next.
Mark Runacus is co-founder and planning partner at creative agency Wax/On
Some years ago I made the shift to early morning exercise. I know it sounds unfeasibly keen, but I now get up at 5am and then enjoy a brisk but short walk to the gym. That’s followed by another short walk to my new shared office space. If I’m feeling bouncy I’ll be listening to disco. I’m still a bedroom DJ, musically stuck on a dancefloor in 1977, with no intention of leaving any time soon. If I’m in a more serious mood, it’ll be some chilled beats, maybe even nature sounds.
After 30+ years working in the ad industry, I never thought I would be without a formal office, but I’m one of those who has completely changed the way I work. I have to thank my business partner for taking the brave decision to make us office-less. He would put a positive spin on it and tell everyone we were “virtual”. I just kept saying: “We’re homeless!”. I’m now fully on board with it, and love hot-desking and bumping into people who do completely different things. I must say the garden terrace, the café, and the bar do help. Oh, and the dogs. (My workplace is very dog-friendly.)
There really hasn’t been a big back to work moment for me. Once the lockdown restrictions began easing, I started hot-desking. Some days it was just me and the security guard. I would occasionally treat myself for lunch and worked my way through the menus of the few Uber Eats restaurants that had re-opened. I have noticed that nearly all my colleagues do want to get back to a workplace. Maybe not every day, but they miss the real human interaction and sense of community. I do not underestimate the mental health challenges that those younger colleagues have endured. Shared accommodation and a home space not conducive to any kind of modern work.
It sounds corny, but the people I work with are inspiring and uplifting. The flat whites from the café are a great cerebral catalyst too.
Michael Neuner is vice president of operations Hakkasan Group in the UK and Europe
The prep for my morning starts before going to bed – diary, who will I meet, where, when, evening plans. After a good night’s rest, I have become an early riser over the years. Good shower, clean shave, appropriate outfit with accessories – sometimes a pocket square, but always socks that suit and add some fun. A cup of peppermint tea, and a light breakfast prepared by my wife (unfortunately no fry-ups allowed!)
For sure. I no longer wear ties, and have definitely become more informal. But socks have been a special accessory for many years.
I understand that lounge wear has enjoyed a huge boost during the past 18 months and think that this more casual approach will continue. I believe that this idea of the ‘special accessory’ – one which adds a real point of difference, a talking point, an element of fun – will increasingly be sought after, no matter how formal or informal you professional dress.
Fun is the most important element in life, both private and professional. We all work very hard, not just in the world of hospitality, so adding some colour with my socks helps me walk brighter and reminds me of the brighter parts of life, no matter how difficult a day becomes. It is also a good talking point throughout the day, trying to put a smile on other people’s faces
Christopher O’Brien is a personal trainer based in London
QUICKLY DESCRIBE YOUR MORNING ROUTINE. WHAT SETS YOU UP FOR A POSITIVE DAY?
My morning starts with a coffee nice and early. I usually have an early morning session from 7:00am with a client, so I need to wake up, get ready and get out pretty quickly, so like to keep it simple.
While wearing tracksuit bottoms daily may be a stylistic change for a lot of people thanks to working from home more these days, it is nothing new for me since I am a personal trainer. My work wardrobe is training gear and that’s what I spend most of my time in. I like block colours, and most importantly everything to be comfortable and high performance.
I have been very lucky to have had work all year round and have not stopped at all, so for me, there is no real back-to-work shift. The pandemic made many people look for new ways to train outside in the fresh air, away from their usual gym set up, to help stay active and mentally positive, so I’ve fortunately been busy.
I walk brighter when I feel comfortable. Great footwear and socks – ones that are able to handle any action I throw and them, and maybe even add a bit of bold colour – are the most important thing for me.
How do you #OwnYourOffice? Share your style snaps and tips for walking brighter with us @londonsockco.
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