Q&A: Working from home with Maria Uvarova

Maria Uvarova, Head of Product
Amazon Fashion Technology


1. How has the coronavirus affected your day-to-day work?

At first, not too much. My team members are based in different locations and we are all used to video conferences. It started getting real after 2-3 weeks (I had started self-isolating on March 10 already), when we all realised that some new measures were needed to adapt to the fact that we must stay at home for another month or maybe longer. This is when I started re-organising my home office to make it more ergonomic, and also started to create new habits for myself and my team, to stay connected in isolation (something simple like saying “good morning” in a group chat every day, and posting the picture of your cup of coffee or lunch there).

2. What do you do for fun when you take a break from working at home?

Go to my balcony to enjoy sunshine. Do 10 minutes of yoga. Cook lunch instead of ordering in when I can plan a longer lunch break.

3. Do you have a ‘top tip’ to share on working remotely?

To me, boundaries are key. It is very important to organise your day, make sure to have a lunch break, stop working at a reasonable hour, plan time blocks for deep work and for connecting with others. I tried the “pomodoro” technique for WFH, which can also help. Without boundaries, you could be facing endless working days because there is no “physical” way to distance yourself from your office anymore. And endless work is rarely productive – our most creative ideas come when we let ourselves recharge. 

4. What is your favourite snack when working from home? 

No snacks for me, I prefer a good breakfast, lunch and dinner. And lots of green tea in between. I left chocolate unattended on my desk once and didn’t notice eating it during a difficult call… Don’t want to repeat the same mistake!  

5. What advice would they give those starting in a new company during Covid-19 – in terms of interaction, building relationships and just plugging in? 

I realise how difficult it is, normally we would go and build connections face to face at first, even people that work remotely as per their contract. Now you need to do a little extra to build a rapport with your new colleagues. I suggest talking to your manager about more frequent one-to-one meetings, and also do informal team meetings via video chat. Have a “Happy Hour” after work and get to know your colleagues on a personal level.