#WFH Diaries: David Schwarz of HUSH
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 David Schwarz of New York design shop HUSH.
Give us a one-line bio of yourself.
Co-founder of the design agency HUSH, husband, and father of two boys, 10 and 7, living in Brooklyn most of the time.
Where are you living right now, and who's with you?
We left Brooklyn for Cape Cod, Mass., where my wife's family has a summer cottage. My wife, sons and I are the only ones here, and the town is relatively quiet. It's still very preseason, perfect for quarantining and letting our very energetic boys run wild.
What's your work situation like at the moment?
We decided that HUSH would transition to mandatory work from home reasonably early in this crisis. We already had most of the technological systems in place, but moving to a 100 percent remote working situation was a big change for sure. Even so, we've settled into a nice set of rituals that preserve our company culture, allow us to check in with each other every day, and keep our interpersonal interactions top of mind. Personally, I have a solid internet connection, a quiet office and a nice regimen involving some early morning exercise, yoga, coffee and reading the news before sitting down for the day. I really benefit from a regimen. But, we're about to get a puppy, so that should fully disrupt all of that.
Describe your socializing strategy.
We've felt more-but-shorter interactions with friends and family really pay off on Zoom. At this point, I have some real Zoom/VC fatigue given that's the mode of most of my day. So, jumping onto more hours of Zoom, even to connect with friends and relatives at the end of the day, is increasingly difficult. "Passive" Zooms feel really good, where we share some cocktails while cooking dinner, or even do virtual dinners with another family is an interesting new phenomenon. It's pretty empty in town here, so real-world socialization has been minimal, other than the folks we wave to from the porch, or when I make my weekly trip to the dump.
How are you dealing with childcare, if applicable?
My wife and I are juggling the support of our two boys in parenting and education. Our hats are off to all teachers who have somehow managed to reorganize their entire curricula, processes and job descriptions to accommodate the brave new world of 100 percent remote learning. We're trying to keep daily rituals intact, so we continue to do virtual versions of tutoring and music lessons, etc. I think my family will ultimately look back on this with some amazement at the unexpected quality time (moments?) we spent with each other. That being said, I don't want to sugarcoat it: it can be pretty ugly at times. Each of us are dealing with this situation in our own way.
What are you reading?
Just finished Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. Just started The Overstory by Richard Powers. Axios AM daily email blast, The Hustle daily email blast, the NYT.
What are you watching?
Ozark Season 3. HBO's Michael Jordan documentary The Last Dance. Every '80s and '90s movie that my kids need to see.
What are you listening to?
Belgian psychotherapist Esther Perel. The HUSH+1 podcast—our agency's new "for makers, by makers" podcast. The Prof G Show with Scott Galloway podcast. The Daily podcast. The Slowdown podcast.
How are you staying fit?
Yoga via the Down Dog app. Running three or four times a week. Trying not to drink every night.
Have you taken up a hobby?
No. I have less time than I did before, despite having no school prep, no child transport, no social commitments, commute or work travel. A hobby sounds like a luxury right now.
Any tips for getting necessities?
We're lucky that we have food and basic services reasonably close at hand. I can't find hair clippers in any store or online, so I'm growing it out until I do!
An awkward moment since all this started.
One evening after a particularly busy day, I looked at my step counter and saw that it read a total of 140. That's hard to do, actually.
Best work email you got since all this started.
Starting early in this C-19 situation, we committed to over-communication and over-sharing. Our goal is to help our team understand our priorities as business owners and the tactics we're implementing to get through this. One of our employees gave my partner and I a shoutout appreciating all of these efforts. Managing through this kind of adversity is the job of ownership. Doing it in a fair, humane and honest way is what we're striving to do, so it felt good to have that recognized by one of our people.
An aha! moment since all this started.
I think I've said "necessity is the mother of invention" about 100 times since this all began. Our company has a pretty good overall track record of consistent innovation, but nothing accelerates the need for invention faster than do-or-die moments like this. My aha! was watching how fast our team can package up valuable knowledge and provide new, critical services to our clients.
What's your theory on how this is going to play out?
Predicting the future is a dangerous, an unwinnable game. But my theory is both hopeful and slightly dystopian—so I'm covering my bases. I'm quite hopeful for humanity in general. I'm bullish about our innate desire to experience, experiment, explore and discover. We'll get back to that. More than 100,000 years of genetic engineering won't be deprogrammed in just a few months, or even years. The dystopian part of my outlook relates more to the severity, depth and breadth of impact. I don't think this is going away soon, and I believe the second and third wave effects of the virus—beyond the virus' actual resurgence—will be significant in the cost of jobs, livelihood, health and culture. I'm definitely in a marathon mode and settling into an endurance mindset.