#WFH Diaries: Brendan Shaughnessy of sparks & honey

As coronavirus lockdowns persist around the globe, Muse is checking in with creative people to see how they're faring. Below, we catch up with Brendan Shaughnessy, a senior cultural strategist at Omnicom's cultural consultancy sparks & honey.

Give us a one-sentence bio of yourself.

Brendan Shaughnessy is a cultural researcher and strategist in NYC with an appreciation for cheap pizza and cheesy jokes (and vice versa).

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

After spending the first three weeks with my fiancée, Megan, and our two Maine Coon cats in our less-than-200-square-foot studio, we rented a car and drove to quarantine in my future in-laws’ guest room. Cats came with. It's a novel in the making.

What's your work situation like at the moment?

In our studio, Megan and I used our bathroom as our conference room, so I became known as “Brendan the Blue Bathroom Guy.” Coincidentally, I'm now working in the guest room, which is also blue. It's been a huge change, and I've seen a huge lift in my mood and productivity.

Describe your socializing strategy.

I worked from home at a prior job and hated it, so I've learned a few tricks. Conversation is the new coffee, so find ways to build face time into your day and fill your social bar. The biggest thing we lose in an all-digital world is chance and serendipity, so try and connect with someone unexpected to fill the void of running into someone on the subway, in a hallway, etc.

How are you dealing with childcare, if applicable?

No kids, but when my cats get anxious (like when you take them on a cross-country pandemic trip) they get sick. So, we've dealt with some remote vet calls. If anything, this has been the greatest form of birth control. I'm in awe of the patience and multi-tasking by my parent coworkers.

What are you reading?

Way too much Twitter.

What are you watching?

Lots of Bon Appétit test kitchen on YouTube, which has adapted to producing content from home, creating somehow even better and more interesting stuff for at home cooks. I've also started watching The West Wing with my future in-laws, and it has brought a bit of calmness. It's a fantastic show and a sad reminder how much things have and haven't changed in 20 years.

What are you listening to?

One of the biggest changes for me has been adapting to not having a commute. I tend to listen to 10+ hours worth of podcasts a week and haven't made time for it in my new-normal routine. I am listening to way more music and ambient beats and lo-fi playlists, as they are great at helping me focus and pretend that my body is in the office, not on a bed.

How are you staying fit?

I'm a runner and tend to run five or six times a week, but I've been trying to limit my exposure outside as much as possible. So I have been trying power yoga and abs with my fiancé which has been kinda fun. We've also been doing breathing exercises before bed, which has helped me go to sleep much better than the usual 30 minutes of TikTok nonsense.

Have you taken up a hobby?

I like to think of myself as an amateur kitchen hand and have tried to join my straight, white, male counterparts by stereotypically trying my hand at sourdough bread.

Any tips for getting necessities?

As a Midwesterner through and through, I've learned the value of a smile and a wave. Keep your distance of course, but a little warmth goes a long way toward building solidarity and support in your community.

An awkward moment since all this started.

I thought I'd be a good partner and bring Megan a cup of coffee while she was settling into our studio "conference room" for a call, but I hadn't realized that she was using it as a bathroom and walked in at the wrong time. We laughed.

Best work email you got since all this started.

Subject line: Quarantine Week 4. Body content: The "It's Fine" meme with the room on fire.

An aha! moment since all this started.

Putting on shoes and pants has never made me feel more put together, even if it's sweats and slippers.

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

We'll have a new appreciation for our coworkers and neighbors, quarantine will have given us all permission to address our mental health, and we're bound to see a bubble burst in the toilet-paper industry.

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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