• Lea Jakobiak

The Werklab CEO On Growing Her Community Online Amid Lockdown

Christina Disler is the Founder (CEO) of Werklab and Editor in Chief at The Werk - a holistic wellness co-work space in Vancouver. She is passionate about disrupting our relationship with and approach to “work". Here, she speaks to Zena Media's Lea Jakobiak about prioritising health, downtime and mental well-being during isolation.

L: Where are you going through lockdown and how has it affected you and your business?

C: I’m in Vancouver, Canada. But when the COVID-19 self-isolation and lockdown started, I was actually in London. There, I witnessed the energetic shift that happened within society intensely. The panic started to hit, and I was constantly thinking of the 250 small businesses working in our space, and asked: What happens when that physical space is no longer available?

So, I took a step back and realised that you have to put your own mask on first, before helping others.

Our belief at The Werk has always been that when you take care of yourself, you end up doing the right work for you. You have to help yourself create a space of reactivity and higher consciousness that will benefit your business.

And so, within 48 hours we moved our community online. With entrepreneurship you can’t always overthink it; you have to dive in. So we started online classes, free of charge, as it’s an imperative time to support others.

L: You are passionate about evolving the way humans work. Do you think this phase offers an opportunity to change and improve things?

C: We can’t continue to work the way we have been. It’s not sustainable. We have such an old paradigm in how we work, despite the digital technology available to us.

Humanity’s resilience is our ability to adapt. Businesses are now having to pivot. We have to start thinking from a different space.

The way business has been done is no longer true, we now know you can’t run a business from a state of fear. You’re having to trust people to do their work.

L: Why is it so hard to keep a positive attitude during lockdown?

C: When you’re in a “fight or flight” mode, which a lot of people are in right now, the amount of fear leads to paralysis.This is because the fear blocks us from accessing our prefrontal cortex, where the logic of the brain sits. So, it’s about accepting that the fear is going to be there and then creating space for it.

We often think of self-care as a one off, but really, self-care is a declaration. It’s a way of being all the time. It’s not just: I got a facial. It’s about how we start our days. Are you making your coffee in a different way than a month and a half ago? It might be doing your book-keeping. Cooking your food slowly. Developing your curiosity.

Write a journal; get it all out of your system.

L: What are your top tips for keeping your mental health in check during isolation?

C: Seeing someone on a screen is much better than a call; it releases an oxytocin and has a different impact on our neurological system.

I also suggest taking time in the morning to not go on your phone. Or create a rule where you’re not on your phone between 10pm – 10am. This is hard because we crave communication, but it’s essential to create a sacred inward time for a stronger sense of self.

When you start your day taking care of yourself, it will set off the day right. It’s harder to do the positive switch at the end of the day.

L: What are the pros and cons of running your business online?

C: I love communicating with everyone online — from all parts of the world. Time zones are a new challenge!

L: Tell us more about your online classes

A lot of our clients say they can no longer afford their therapists and that our classes help so much. So if we can provide that, I can sleep better at night knowing that we’ve made them feel more positive.

The classes are all programmed to support you and your work. We offer meditation, pilates, talks with a chiropractor, tarot reading, and even a live session with doctors who answer questions about COVID-19.

L: What’s the first thing you’re going to do when lockdown ends?

C: Get to London! We’re planning a larger scale activation at the end of 2020 - perhaps a summit!

And I just want to finish with this reminder:

Now is not the time for answers, it’s the time for questions, because we finally have time.