Valerie Khoo Working Productively From Home Interview

Valerie Khoo Working Productively From Home Interview

Make The Most of Your 'Work' Time

When it comes to working from home there's the possibility we will be easily distracted - the TV, house work, pets, children, the list goes on. There's also the worry that we won't be as productive or focused.

In the last 18 months Valerie has began what she likes to call a multi-passionate career, where she combines her role as CEO of a bustling business with that of a full time (commercially successful) artist. From learning to juggle the two often competing roles, Valerie has learnt to work very productively from home.

Interview with Valerie Khoo, CEO of The Australian Writers' Centre

Valerie Khoo is a Sydney-based visual artist and curator who creates artwork that inspires you to let your creative self emerge. Her pieces evoke a sense of joy and positivity in their infusion of colour, texture and movement, with each one telling an inspiring story to help you connect with your creative soul. Her original art and prints are available at

Question: What originally distracted you, when you began working from home?

Valerie Khoo: I have three gorgeous pets – two fluffy white cats and a cheeky dog. When I first started working from home, it was easy to get distracted by their demands and just their general cuteness! These days, we have a fairly set routine for my days in the studio. It's great to be able to create art while they're hanging around. And when I want a break, I'll take Groucho the dog for a walk. Or give the cats, Rex and Rocky, a cuddle. I don't actually get distracted by television or Netflix – I feel too guilty to indulge in telly when I should be working.

Question: Why does working from home suit you best?

Valerie Khoo: It's basically because my studio is at home. It's big and airy – and I seem to do a lot of creative thinking and making in it. Having said that, there are some days when I just crave an office environment. While I love the fluid nature of the creative process, I also thrive on structure, productivity and getting things done.

Question: Do you find you are more productive when working from home?

Valerie Khoo: I'm lucky that I can be productive both at home and in an office. I think this comes from decades of conditioning while I was working as a freelancer. I just trained myself to work in any environment – whether that was on a train, at home, in a cafe, or in a client's office. Even when I'm not at home, I use my iPad and Apple pencil to sketch up ideas and designs. But the best part of working from home is that I can do it in the wee hours of the night. That's actually when I find I'm most productive. So it's great to get lost for hours in a painting and then simply flop into bed!

Question: Can you share your advice on how we can productively work from home?

Valerie Khoo: Get out of your pyjamas first thing in the morning. Ensure you have some kind of routine – you don't have to be super strict about it but it's good to have some structure to your day. If you leave it too open-ended, you'll end up doing very little. And if you are spending a lot of time at home, make sure you're not at risk of getting cabin fever. I will typically head out – even if it's just for coffee or lunch – once a day to ensure I interact with humans! If you don't do that, it can feel very isolating working from home.

Question: How have you set up your home office space to ensure productivity?

Valerie Khoo: I think it's important to remain connected with the people you're working with, whether that's your colleagues or clients. So I use Slack for messaging and video calls to talk to people face-to-face – even if there is a screen between us. And it's important to ensure that you can collaborate seamlessly on shared documents and apps. That means storing all your files in the cloud and determining the right systems to share ideas. If I'm talking to clients who have commissioned my work, we'll share mood boards on Pinterest and I'll even give some a virtual tour of my studio using FaceTime.

Question: What advice do you have for creating a work/life balance especially when working from home?

Valerie Khoo: That's a funny question because I don't really think my work and life need balancing. They all meld into one fluid experience for me! When people talk about work/life balance there is often the implication that one is better than the other. Or that one is a negative experience that needs balancing out with something positive. I just don't see it that way at all. I love my home life – and I love my work as an artist so much that I would do it even if I wasn't being paid. Fortunately, I am, which is great. As long as it brings me joy, I'm happy to experience more of it!

Interview by Brooke Hunter
Main Photo: Valerie Khoo, visual artist
Photo by Paige Cody on Unsplash


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