#WFH Diaries: Liz Furze of AMP Agency
As confinement continues in most parts of the world due to the coronavirus pandemic, we're checking in with creative people to see how they're faring. Here's an update from Liz Furze of AMP Agency.
Give us a one-line bio of yourself.
I'm an associate creative director at AMP Agency New York, copywriter.
Where are you living right now, and who's with you?
I'm currently staying at my in-laws' home in Connecticut with my husband Nick. His parents are riding out the quarantine in Florida, so we are lucky enough to have the place to ourselves. Normally we live in a very small apartment in Brooklyn.
What's your work situation like at the moment?
Perpetually adapting. Shifting to remote work has been an eye-opening process for us in a lot of ways. On the positive side, I've found it much easier to partner with our other office locations, and I've loved getting video facetime with folks I normally speak to only on the phone. On the more challenging side, we've had to change our day-to-day workflow a bit, especially since we don't have access to our in-house studio. Remote pitching is weird.
We've also worked hard to invent some off-the-wall ideas to keep morale high and the team connected. One fun idea we've launched are the Quaran-TONY Awards, a weekly recognition happy hour where we call out individual wins from our team and give everybody the chance to be goofy together over a Zoom meeting.
Describe your socializing strategy.
Zoom all day, baby. I've actually been surprised at how much I've been video socializing. It's been a real breath of fresh air to catch up with friends and family I don't normally get the chance to speak with so often. Marco Polo is a game-changer, too. It's a video messaging app—I originally started using it to talk to my nieces and nephews, but now use it more to message my friends throughout the day. Lots of game nights. I highly recommend playing Scattergories over Zoom with a margarita in hand.
How are you dealing with childcare, if applicable?
We don't have children, though I really wish we had a dog right now.
What are you reading?
It's been hard to focus on long-form reading, so it's been a lot of shorter-form internet content. I'm trying to learn more about Scandinavian design history at the moment.
What are you watching?
Rewatching Mad Men. It's my husband's first time through it. He finally (kind of) understands what my job is now, but keeps asking me who's the Harry Crane of my office.
What are you listening to?
Normally I'm an NPR addict, but taking a break for now. Loads of great new music has come out recently … Fiona Apple's new record, Laura Marling's Song for Our Daughter, Waxahatchee's Saint Cloud, the new Dirty Projectors EP. I've been loving the NPR Tiny Desk at Home series. And when I need to really focus, I throw on a live Bill Evans album. Oh, and both of Esther Perel's podcasts on relationships are brilliant, Where Should We Begin? and How's Work?
How are you staying fit?
One thing I've been super grateful for throughout the quarantine is the opportunity to focus on my physical well-being. I'm working out way more than normal—partially in an attempt to avoid the Covid-15. I do a quick yoga session every morning before work, then try to do another fitness class later in the day. I've been using Barre3's video classes, and my yoga studio Yoga Vida has done an awesome job of providing streaming classes on Instagram. Sometimes I search random pilates and HIIT workouts on YouTube. And I try to stroll around the neighborhood every day.
Have you taken up a hobby?
I launched a side writing project I'd wanted to do for ages—a curated email newsletter called Open In New Tab. I make recommendations for new discoveries—anything from interesting articles to the perfect quarantine sweatpants—based on the links open in my browser window, of which there are many.
I've also gotten to spend a lot of time indulging in cooking and baking, something my husband and I love to do together. When else do you have 16 hours to make croissants? Carpe yeastem.
And my in-laws have a piano, so I've been playing a lot, which is a treat. I haven't had access to a piano in years.
Any tips for getting necessities?
Because I'm immunocompromised, my husband has been handling all the grocery runs. Out in the 'burbs, we have fortunate access to a Whole Foods, so we try to consolidate and make one big trip every two weeks. We save recipes we want to make throughout the week(s) so we can plan out our grocery list, and then load up on multiples of the basics we go through quickly (40 percent of my diet is almond milk and Greek yogurt). Of course, the trek necessitates a mask, gloves, and rule-following at the store, and we wipe everything down before we bring it in the house.
An awkward moment since all this started.
Zoom life is just a constant stream of awkward moments. I'm trying to embrace it. My internet here isn't amazing, and there have been countless times where I've spent a full two minutes explaining an idea or giving someone feedback only to have them tell me, "Ummm ... sorry, what? Your connection cut out, and I heard four words of that."
Best work email you got since all this started.
We started a program to help our employees with kids keep them entertained called Camp AMP, where employees lend their talents to kid-friendly livestreamed content. I hosted a Disney singalong one morning. Our vp of strategy got in touch with me later that day to let me know her son kept telling everyone, "I met Elsa today!"
An aha! moment since all this started.
Taking care of yourself and the people around you is what matters most. More than work, more than creativity, more than productivity. Our health, both our physical and mental, is precious, and we shouldn't take it for granted. Also, pour-over coffee is worth the effort.
What's your theory on how this is going to play out?
I can't imagine the full extent of how this will shift our behavior—the only certainty is that the change will come. I do believe this will ultimately transform the face of remote work. I knew that remote work was gaining traction, but until now it hadn't felt like a viable option for me or for my office at large. This quarantine has forced us to consider the benefits and challenges of remote work and problem solve for them in real time. We've already strengthened the systems required to support WFH life, and tech will continue to innovate toward that end. And now I feel like this could open up a lot of freedom for employees in advertising—freedom to choose where they live based on what works for their lifestyle and families rather than the centers of the industry, freedom for working parents and caretakers, freedom for people who work best with an alternative schedule, freedom for people with disabilities. I'm eager to see how it all shakes out.