#WFH Diaries: Kat Shafer of EP+Co
As the pandemic continues with no end in sight, and with most folks still working from home, we're checking in with industry pros to see how they're faring. Here's an update from Kat Shafer, chief client officer of EP+Co.
Give us a one-line bio of yourself.
A sleep-deprived chief executive officer of the house, and I moonlight as chief client officer of EP+Co. (Or is it the other way around? I don't know my days from my nights anymore.)
Where are you living right now, and who's with you?
Living at my house in Millburn, New Jersey, with my equally sleepy marketing husband, my non-stop talking, extremely imaginative 6-year-old and my really silly (but very dramatic) 4-year-old.
What's your work situation like at the moment, and how is it evolving?
Currently, my husband and I are both working from home and trying to create our own office spaces. My current "desk" is the dining room table—it works really well when the kids are out but can easily be interrupted. If I can't risk an interruption, I take the meeting from my bed, which I recognize is not entirely professional!
When you do you expect to return to the office?
We are opening the agency doors on Sept. 8 (both our New York and South Carolina locations). The office will be following strict health and safety protocols, but attendance is entirely optional—only for those who need four new walls to stare at or an escape from their current "office." We have held off on any projections of when we can have a full return—we know it won't be in 2020—but it won't be until everyone feels safe to do so.
Describe your socializing strategy.
We do all of our socializing outdoors with peeps outside the family. Some of the highlights are happy-hour drinks in the driveway, BBQs in the backyard, camping with friends, and rafting down the Delaware River.
How are you dealing with childcare?
We are incredibly thankful to have a fulltime nanny, but we also opted to send our kids to summer camp—it's 100 percent outdoors, small groups, and the counselors wear masks and get temperature checks daily. That's been a lifesaver for us all. We also just learned that our schools will be 100 percent virtual until Nov. 9, and likely longer, so we're figuring out the balance of that right now.
What are you reading?
I always used my morning train commute as my reading time, so for now I'm stuck with reading a lot of bedtime stories. The last adult book I finished was pre-Covid and it was Before We Were Yours.
What are you watching?
After watching so many intense streaming documentaries—13th, Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Reach, The Disappearance of Madeline McCann, Don't F**k with Cats, Tiger King—we started rewatching The Office. We just needed something light and funny to unwind at the end of the day.
What are you listening to?
I created a playlist of all the influential female singers from my lifetime, and I'm loving it. It goes all the way back to women like Ani DiFranco and Melissa Etheridge.
How are you staying fit?
I wish I could say I was…
Have you taken up a hobby?
Does making rainbow loom bracelets with my 6-year-old count? I've rekindled my love of camping. I'm not entirely sure if it was Covid-19 or the fact that we recently won Newell brands (which is a holding company for many brands including Coleman and Marmot) that got me back into it—but regardless, I'm loving the reintroduction to the great outdoors.
An awkward moment since all this started.
I'm waiting for a really awkward Zoom moment, but I've yet to be Zoom-bombed or carried into the bathroom. Although my husband did walk behind me shirtless one day while on an executive call.
An aha! moment since all this started.
My personal aha! moment—making your bed every morning makes getting in bed a thousand times better. I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't make my bed pre-Covid.
My professional aha! moment—as an agency, we are resilient, resourceful and remote working has not slowed us down or made a lesser product. The day we decided to close the offices, we were terrified how that would impact the business—but it hasn't. We've continued to crank out great work, maybe even better client service now that we're having conversations in their homes, and we even won our first virtual pitch.
What's your theory on how this is going to play out?
I think this is the going to be the death of the handshake. Outside of that, nothing really original here. There's no question we will have to unthink how we look at the traditional work day and environment we've been used to, but I still think that over time we'll find, for the most-part, that as humans we really like personal interaction. While we've shown we can be really productive at our jobs remotely, we probably thrive the most when we're physically in it together.