#WFH Diaries: Jesse Unger and Ryan Buckley of TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the world, we're checking in with folks in the creative industry to see how they're doing. Here's an update from Jesse Unger and Ryan Buckley at TBWA\Chiat\Day in Los Angeles.

Give us a one-line bio of yourselves.

We're a strategy/creative duo at TBWA\Chiat\Day L.A. Long-time married, first-time co-workers. We spend most of our days working together on Robinhood.

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

We live in West Hollywood with our dog, Frannie, Chiat's 2019 recipient of The Best-Worst Dog Award.

What's your work situation like at the moment?

Our days have been super busy, working not only on Robinhood but also on other clients and a few proactive projects. It's been a fairly easy adjustment—we're both extremely productive when working from home. The biggest hurdle has been space: Our living room, dining room and office are all one room, so when we have separate calls at the same time, one person has to hunker down in the bedroom.  

Obviously being on the same account means we're always working closely, but now that we have zero separation, we've started operating more as creative partners than strategy/creative. It's actually been a fruitful experiment—we're brainstorming a lot and helping each other on the accounts we don't share. We're creating better work because of it.

Describe your socializing strategy.

We're partaking in Netflix Parties, playing Jackbox TV games over Google Hangouts with our friends, and doing our best not to get tagged in any Instagram challenges. Lots of FaceTiming with our niece in Pennsylvania, who really only wants to talk to our dog. And, in all honesty, we're finding a lot of joy in spending actual non-work time together cooking.

What are you reading?

We've been working nonstop, so more likely to immediately pass out than read. But Jesse's very popular two-person book club is reading Love in the Time of Cholera, and Ryan is trying to up his sourdough game by reading Flour Water Salt Yeast. Our team does a lot of bread-shaming on status calls.

What are you watching?

Tiger King, obviously. Otherwise we're streaming old Kentucky basketball games to fill the March Madness-sized hole in our hearts and giving in to our long-standing guilty pleasure: American Idol (seriously, it's gotten a lot better in the last couple of years).

What are you listening to?

Mostly we listen to each other's conference calls ... and fire texts across the room with opinions neither of us asked for.  

How are you staying fit?

You're more likely to find us talking about all things we could do to stay fit. Wouldn't it be fun to pull out those old P90X dvds?? Love us some Tony Horton.

Have you taken up a hobby?

Ryan is a serial hobbyist (and one of those infuriatingly annoying people who can watch one tutorial and become really good at that thing). He's been learning to illustrate in Procreate, taking on one drawing challenge each night (see donut below). Jesse stares at the piano.

Any tips for getting necessities?

Barter with your friends. Ask your family back east to mail you cleaning supplies. 

An awkward moment since all this started.

Sometimes we forget to tell people we're married—it just doesn't cross our mind when we introduce ourselves, and it always comes up eventually. Apparently we shocked quite a few people the first week of WFH when we showed up on video calls together. Oops.

Best work email you got since all this started.

Technically not an email, but we tuned in to an all-agency livestream to get the latest from our fearless leader, Erin, and we were blessed with an impromptu dad(mom)-joke session.

An aha! moment since all this started.

• We're more resilient and adaptable than we think we are.
• When you order less takeout, you really start to appreciate food more.
• If you wash your hands *too* much, you will develop a rash.   

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

It's going to last longer than any of us care to admit. Many people will change from this experience, and others will stay exactly the same. And there probably won't be any kind of "back to normal" but rather a new normal. We've heard some rumblings about seeing an increase in productivity during this time, so we're going to hold onto the fantasy that this finally sparks the shift to less meetings and more time away from the office to get real work done! And we're hopeful that this wakes a lot of people up to VOTE (please, we're begging you, vote). 

See the full #WFH Diaries series here.

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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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