Where I WFH: Ellen Cole, Founder, Little Seed Group
Wildlife lover Ellen is the founder of York-based Little Seed Group, an agency which provides independent businesses and charities with marketing, PR and social media services.
Throughout COVID, Little Seed Group has continued to secure client wins, supporting clients with consultancy and e-learning services too.
Little Seed Group is committed to doing good through business, and financially supports a local body that rescues wild hedgehogs across Yorkshire. Ellen's fostered over 500 injured or unwell wild hedgehogs in need of rescue - including Cassiopeia (pictured).
She showed us how her WFH setup looks...
Where in the house do you work?
Initially, I worked at the kitchen table, but after discovering that I'd have to shield long-term, I purchased a desk and moved into my front living room.
I have been very fortunate that the pandemic hasn’t affected my work too much, however what it has taught me is that with a little bit of self-discipline I can run my business and foster British wild hedgehog rescues without one affecting the other.
I work with several rescues, but I foster hedgehogs for The Hedgehoggery based in Shipley and Hedgehog Emergency Rescue located in Bingley, West Yorkshire before they are returned back to the wild.
Paint a picture for us of the view from your window.
I live right at the bottom of a cul-de-sac, so the beauty of this is that I have a view right down to the other end of the street. I’m a notorious people-watcher and am fascinated by psychology, which interweaves with my daily life as a small business owner.
Understanding psychology in business is important as it helps you to dig deeper, helping clients to unearth their primary and secondary customer base. This is important for sowing the seeds for success in business. Using a psychology-driven approach has proven fruitful for my business and clients. We've seen amazing results and I am positive about the year ahead.
If you have one, can you talk us through your home-working daily routine?
I use a one task per block approach where I will dedicate a certain amount of time to one task, before moving onto the next. I plan all my activity the day before, being mindful to leave gaps just in case something urgent comes up which a client needs support with.
Using this approach makes me more productive and enables me to get more done throughout the day.
It also gives me time to be able to check on the hedgehogs, go out for a walk around the local woods and have a lunch break. Prior to lockdown, I would eat my lunch at my desk, but now I make an effort to leave my desk and have a break. I've found this approach has helped me to become even more focused at work which is great.
Which tools and technology do you rely on when working from home?
I have become a huge fan of Google Meet and WhatsApp which provide me with the opportunity to keep in touch with my team, clients and the hedgehog rescues that I work with.
I am sure many will agree that lockdown has been a lonely time, so my freelance team and I have been making a real effort to have regular socials and catch-ups to make sure everyone is okay and to support one another.
What do you miss most about working from an office?
The internet is great for keeping in touch with others, but it isn’t the same and I miss being surrounded by people and working closely together as a unit. One of the beauties of working in the centre of York is that you get to meet many other independent business owners.
I have an immaculate track record in helping independent businesses thrive. During the pandemic, I helped a local retailer increase their sales by 1,566% compared to the 2019 period which is something I am proud of. Supporting local businesses feels extremely worthwhile, especially as many are struggling at the moment.
Despite us now being able to see a light at the end of the tunnel with the roadmap out of lockdown, business sales have been strong throughout the pandemic and I’m really thankful for that. I am really looking forward to returning to the office once I no longer need to shield.
What tips do you have for increasing productivity while working from home?
I used to try and do several tasks at once, but I've realised that this isn’t the best use of my time. Instead, I now block out periods during my day to focus on a particular activity, including taking regular breaks. I would recommend this approach as it's helped me to keep focused and I am getting more done.
Will you look to work from home more in the future?
I will be returning to my office once I no longer have to shield, but I think I will continue to work at least one day a week from home which I'll use to create more e-learning courses. I am also looking to do some more volunteer work with hedgehog rescues so that I can further enhance my knowledge on how to help them.
How do you think the workplace will change in the future?
I think the pandemic has shown that working from home does work and I believe it will bring more business opportunities up North. I also think more businesses will look at ways in which they can support the planet and wildlife, and explore how they can become more sustainable and eco-friendly.
I have been supporting hedgehogs through my business for nearly six years and I get a lot of satisfaction from knowing that I am contributing and supporting a native species by giving my time to them and financially supporting them through my business. For example, last year I purchased a hedgehog incubator for a local rescue which has already saved the lives of over 50 orphaned Yorkshire hoglets.
Human interaction is really important to me, so I won’t continue working at home full-time after this. However, the pandemic has given me space and time to think of ways to develop myself and my business so that I can continue to help businesses and charities grow, thrive and blossom.