Working From Home and Coping With the Pandemic: Magnus Jakobsson

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on everyone's lives, we are checking in with people in the creative industry to see how they're doing. Magnus Jacobsson is chief creative officer of The North Alliance, a network of Scandinavian design, communication and tech companies, including the Swedish ad agency Åkestam Holst. We asked him how he's holding up during the crisis.

Muse: Where are you living right now, and who's with you?

Magnus Jacobsson: I'm working from home because our network, NoA, follows all necessary national recommendations regarding flattening the curve. My two daughters, also in quarantine from school, are with me. School in Sweden is being taught using Teams as of yesterday. So there's basically no slack-time for school kids, even though school is closed.

What's your work situation like at the moment?

A couple of projects paused, obviously, like most agencies and networks. Other than that, quite intense, because the current situation demands lots of proactivity for our various clients. We do what we can to help 24/7. It's our duty.

Describe your socializing strategy.

Normally I'm out recruiting new talent three to five days a week. Breakfasts, lunches, dinners, drinks and whatnot. Now, I only meet with clients if they really, really have to. Making sure everyone involved is feeling peachy, needless to say.

How are you dealing with childcare?

My kids are 13 and 16, so they don't really need that much childcare, so to speak. However, it takes some effort to keep them informed about this whole thing, and also relieve them from any stress or anxiety the situation and intense media coverage can cause. But as for now, everyone is doing their best to remain calm.

What are you reading?

Just finished reading the French author Michel Houellebecq's latest novel, Serotonin. Brilliant as always, but not exactly a happy pill if you want to be cheered up.

What are you watching?

Watching a lot of old Chris Morris stuff, like The Day Today, Nathan Barley and BrassEye. So up to date with our world and the media coverage of it, it's still super relevant. And as comedy, it might very well be the funniest TV series ever produced. A comic genius beyond comparison. Other than that, a lot of Discovery Channel and the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

What are you listening to?

I always listen to Brian Eno. My Brian Eno consumption is maybe two to three hours a day. Recently I've also been listening to one of my favorite bands, Black Lips, new album with the almost too up-to-date title Sing in a World That's Falling Apart.

How are you staying fit?

My dream of becoming a fitness-guru is in crumbles since way back, so I guess as always: I don't.

Have you taken up a hobby?

Not other than a few quite interesting side-projects I'm doing with my friend and sometimes colleague, Johan Pihl.

Any tips for getting necessities?

Yes, don't panic. Things are working and it's not like a giant comet is heading towards us. I can't even begin to believe the toilet paper shortage due to morons bunkering this stuff. Is the cleanest behind on the block really your No. 1 priority now? I guess the bidet business will be booming soon. Or at least, I hope so.

An awkward moment since all this started.

I think the whole thing is quite awkward. For me personally, I thought I'd bought that American "vaccine stock" that went up 40 percent in only two to three days—I left like Michael Douglas in Wall Street. Except I forgot to press "Send order."

Best work email you got since all this started.

"Magnus, do you want to come to New York mid-March?"

An aha! moment since all this started.

Aha! People can actually stay calm and carry on, even though the media plays this out like it's medieval times all over.

What's your theory on how this is going to play out?

I think, or at least hope, things will cool off in a couple of months. If not, that's OK too. Humans can learn to live with most things. Or at least around them.

See the full #WFH Diaries series here.

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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