The new normal. That is what we keep hearing: the new normal of how we live, how we work, how we survive.
For the past month, we at Adweek have been experiencing many of the same things most agencies and media organizations have been going through—canceled events, canceled photo shoots, canceled interviews, etc. In the process, we noticed that freelance photographers were getting hit particularly hard. For many of them, shoots such as these were their only means of income. Some could have lived for months off of event coverage like SXSW, which was canceled on March 6.
So, in an attempt to (safely) keep hiring photographers, Adweek asked media, marketing and tech leaders from all over the country if they were willing to be photographed working (and living) as the coronavirus crisis has forced many of us to—remotely and in self-isolation. We wanted to see what goes on behind those Zoom calls and how these leaders are balancing work and family while displaying strong, positive leadership under such challenging circumstances. We asked them to let us in on a moment in their day and to tell us in their own words how that moment exemplifies what work and life in general are like for them now.
From witnessing the chaotic silliness of video meetings while also juggling kids to finding new ways to stay healthy and sane during quarantine to living with a loved one who is out on the front lines fighting Covid-19, this project is intended not to show struggle or a lack of struggle, but to showcase how each of us is navigating this new normal. For safety reasons, not everyone could be photographed, but with the people we were able to photograph, we took every precaution. We asked the photographers to take their temperatures the morning of their shoot, wear protective equipment and photograph each person from a distance.
“They say spring is a new beginning,” says OMD CEO Florian Adamski, whom we photographed walking his dog in Brooklyn. “One paradox of this time is that while we’ve never been more physically isolated as an organization, at the same time, we’ve never been so essentially connected as a team. We’re communicating more consistently, more effectively and more fluidly. I truly believe there is a lot of beginning in what we have started doing as our daily lives have been upended.” —Kacy Burdette, photo editor, Adweek
Global Chief Marketing Officer, Burger King
“We have a 3-month-old baby at home. His name is Oliver. So working from home comes with the benefit of spending a bit more time with him and my wife. Since I have to wake up early to join some phone calls (especially due to our teams in Asia), I am helping with the early morning ‘shift.’ Oliver wakes up around 7 a.m. I change him, feed him and play with him till 8:30. There is a lot of multitasking involved because we also have my other son—his name is Leo—around quite a bit. Leo is almost 5 years old and very physical and very active. He wants to play the whole time. So, I am constantly juggling Oliver, Leo, preparing breakfast and keeping the sink neat—those are my classic morning chores—while wearing my noise-cancelling headphones and connecting to a phone call or videoconference.”
Global Chief Marketing Officer, Deloitte Digital
“What’s it like for me to work from home during the quarantine? It often feels as if every dimension of my life has collapsed on top of one another into one impossible moment. Take this moment: It’s Monday afternoon. I’m simultaneously at work, at my boys’ new ‘school’ and in my backyard. I’m on a conference call while dodging a basketball, while responding to an email, while boiling noodles for dinner and while I’m holding my favorite tiny human who talks to Elmo all day. Although this can be overwhelming, the most impossible part continues to be making sense of the surreal push alerts that continuously flow through my phone as this daily rhythm continues. With spectacular speed, this pandemic has somehow managed to collapse reality as we knew it, and we’re all facing a seemingly impossible moment.”
Chief Executive Officer, OMD
“Given my global role, I used to be spending most of my days on the phone anyway. That really hasn’t changed.
What has changed is the velocity, urgency and complexity of the challenges coming down on us. The focus of what we do has pivoted from a ‘what’s next’ to a ‘what’s now’ context which requires constant internal and external communication and an always-on receptivity which can be both stimulating and draining at the same time.
Spending time walking our 10-month-old Aussie Shepherd, Lou, helps me to clear my thoughts and puts natural breaks into the constant stream of information that we’re all being exposed to. It’s fair to say that Lou’s probably one of the greatest beneficiaries of the situation with everybody looking for a solid reason to stay in touch with the ‘outside world.'”
Chief Operating Officer, Reddit
“With my son, Theodore, out of school, I’m constantly balancing work with taking care of life basics for the family. Because I’m now working from home, he naturally thinks that every day is a weekend day—it’s what he’s used to. So each morning, he’ll ask me if I have work that day, and if it’s a weekday, he’s usually a little bummed to hear that I will be in my little home office all day. Some days, when I have an open calendar slot, I try to commit to a short activity and a set time for it, e.g., ‘We’ll bake cookies at 9.30 a.m., I promise.’ This was a 30-minute, five-ingredient peanut butter chocolate chip cookie bake—10 minutes to mix, 10 minutes in the oven, 10 to enjoy. No joke.”
Chief Marketing Officer, Snap
“At Snap, we consider ourselves fortunate that we can run our business and be relatively productive while working remotely. On a typical workday, I spend the lion’s share of my time meeting and collaborating with my team via videoconference. However, I block a few breaks throughout the day to check in with my family over lunch, tea or getting some air while walking our dog. To add a little levity during our meetings, our team regularly uses our AR lenses through our Snap Camera desktop application. I had no idea how fun it could be to debate marketing ideas while wearing floppy dog ears or as a potato.”
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, True Botanicals
“Looking at that photo, I am struck by how my two worlds are blending in a way that they never have before. I never imagined that I would have such an intimate view into my daughter’s premed studies and that the two of us would share this phase in our lives in the way that we are. I would love to be working with my co-workers at the office and she, of course, longs to be at school with her friends, but we are making the most of this time together. I am working as much if not more than I was when I was commuting to the office and at the same time, I am finding time for things that I have normally not had time for; we have been baking our own bread, which I have always wanted to learn how to do, and we have been taking breaks and going on a hike or a ride which has been so restorative.”
Chair and Chief Executive Officer, UWG