As the world changes and evolves, so do the way we work. Many businesses have either partly or entirely moved online. And due to the new reality brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, more are embracing the shift to digital.
Through his startup, Utiva, Eyitayo Ogunmola is helping people prepare and adapt to the future of work. He shares with us how he continues to drive this goal while working from home.
Current role: CEO Utiva
Location: Washington, D.C.
Current computer: Huawei MateBook
Current mobile device: Samsung Galaxy S10
Describe what working in this pandemic is like, in one word: Energy
Tell us briefly about what you do and what your job entails
I lead Utiva, a technology education company that combines remote learning models with instructor-led approaches to help people acquire the skills they need to make a transition into new tech roles. The core of my role is leadership and front support to the Utiva team and faculty.
You’d typically see me on calls speaking with folks, clarifying expectations, and providing direction and leadership to the Utiva team. The other face to the work that I do is scaling our partnership and support system. I am always looking for another relationship to build a better learning program and develop a relationship to access a new market for Utiva.
Officially I started working from home in 2018. But this is certainly the first time I would do a two month stretch without stepping out.
Walk us through a typical workday since you started working from home.
I have a bad habit of starting my day with 30 minutes just staying in bed and enjoying my company. This is usually because I never go to bed with my phone. I wake up at 3 a.m. because I lead a team in Nigeria with a five-hour time difference.
When I get up from bed I rush to have my morning coffee. If I don’t have my morning coffee, then I’d probably struggle during the day.
3:30 a.m. – I’d typically rush to check my email and answer emails that are urgent. I never stay more than 30 minutes attending to those.
4:00 a.m. – I will do a morning devotion and also have 15 minutes of yoga. I started Yoga recently but it’s a way to distil the entire day in just 15 minutes.
4:30 p.m. – Standard standup meeting with my team. Well, this is always more than 15 minutes. We always have something more to talk about. At the same time, I am working with the Utiva main team to clarify expectations and run through roadblocks.
6:00 a.m. – I am running through strategic meetings. I keep all major meetings between 6:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. my time and usually that works best for our partners in Nigeria. I ensure I make all strategic decisions within that time. By 9:00 a.m. my own time (2:00 p.m. Nigerian time), I am off to sleep.
I typically get my second round of sleep between 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon. Around that time, Nigeria is shutting down and my life in the US kickstarts.
What apps, gadgets, or tools have you been relying on to work from home, and how do you use them?
My life is blessed with the Google Suite. I have all my Google apps opened on my computer and I am always on one or the other. WhatsApp is my fastest communication platform and it’s always open on my PC. Then I am always on Zoom for calls because I work remotely. Google Meet is one terrible platform for me.
Having to work from home, how do you allocate your time between work and other things?
I just always want to remember that eventually it is the outcome of the work that makes personal life fun. So for me, it’s discipline. I always have my daily to-achieve list and I make sure that I place a time holder on each task. It’s hard to have any personal stuff creep in when each hour is assigned to a task.
Although I work from home, I make sure my team is my accountability partner. Also, I keep two different WhatsApp accounts on my laptop. I never have any friends or family members on my work WhatsApp. It’s 100% work and I am always active on it.
Do you live/work alone? If not, what’s your living condition like and how do you cope with distractions?
I live and work alone. Since I work alone, I seldom have distractions. I just do everything personal by 6:00 p.m. when I am officially done with the day. Sometimes, I give about 30 minutes to check on super important personal things but I make sure I am not distracted from the goals of the day.
I always listen to music. I developed a new pattern lately. It’s called ‘Gratefulness’. I just take some minutes off to really think about my journey and just be grateful for everything. What I have experienced, though, is that I sleep off while thinking about it. I get carried away and just get a nap. Also, I just walk around my house.
What’s your biggest challenge with working from home and how are you trying to overcome it?
For me, it is sleeping! I really love to sleep so my beautiful bed attracts me and calls me often. Coffee does the trick. I usually would have about 6-8 cups of coffee every day. Also, I try to do all brain-draining activities early in the morning and only do activities that require that I facilitate conversations or provide leadership support later in the day.
What are you currently reading, watching, or listening to? What do you recommend?
I am reading Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink; I am also flipping through 42 Faith: The Rest of the Jackie Robinson Story by Ed Henry. I am watching documentaries on animals, exploring the beauty of nature. I am also learning magic. Lol.
What piece of advice would you give someone trying to adapt to working from home?
My best advice is to follow your first one hour routine and home will feel like an office. Do everything you would do if you were to go to the office and the rest of the day will be perfect. For instance, dress up and get out of the house. Walk for five minutes and come back to your house. Do it and thank me later.
Who would you like to see answer these questions?
Opeyemi Awoyemi, cofounder of Jobberman and Moneymie; Olufunbi Falayi, product manager at Moneymie; Kola Oyeneyin, CEO Venia Group.
Nigerian startups raised $55.4m in Q1 2020; over 99% of which came from foreign sources. Find out more when you download the full report.
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