#WFH Diaries: Nick and Katie Pavlak of Doner

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 UX director Nick Pavlak and senior social strategist Katie Pavlak of Doner in Detroit.

Give us a one-sentence bio of yourselves.

A couple of entrepreneurs turned ad people, trying to make cool stuff.

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

We live in Ferndale, Michigan, in the house we bought a year ago with our dog, Puppington.

What's your work situation like at the moment?

Nick: Being a husband and wife who work at the same company leads to interesting opportunities and chances to work on stuff you otherwise wouldn't. Katie is a strategist, and her team has kind of adopted me. So, as a creative, I get to suddenly be part of strategy calls, and Katie can chime in on creative ones. It's making us both think in new ways, and we're creating exciting work because of it.

Describe your socializing strategy.

Lots of video conference happy hours. We've actually had more happy hours per week during quarantine than we've ever had outside of it. I guess the positive tradeoff in frequency is that they all end around 9 p.m. instead of 1 a.m. It's also been a good opportunity to catch up with friends in different states. No one has plans, so you might as well hang out.

How are you dealing with childcare, if applicable?

The only kid we have has four legs, is fluffy, and kind of looks like a meatball. Puppington is pumped to have us around, and taking him on walks is a good excuse to get out of the house.

What are you reading?

Nick: I'm a huge sneakerhead, so reading Shoe Dog by Phil Knight has been enlightening. That dude just went for it in every stage of his life and it's pretty inspiring. Katie and her friends started a virtual book club since quarantine began, and she's reading The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides.

What are you watching?

We obviously had to watch Tiger King because that's an insane roller coaster ride. How do they just keep making it crazier every episode? Also, a lot of comedy specials to keep the mood light. Tom Segura is a genius. 

The Blacklist is our favorite guilty-pleasure show (although Katie doesn't believe in guilty pleasures). Nick's super into cooking, so we'll pick a show or movie to match the meal of the night. Recently, we binged Swamp People while eating a delicious homemade jambalaya. CHUTE 'EM!

What are you listening to?

The new Jay Electronica is straight fire. Royce Da 5'9" put out a new one recently and you have to be up on that if you're from Detroit. '90s pop-punk keeps the mood light. Since we've been cooking so much Italian food lately, we've been getting into some Rat Pack-era stuff as well. 

How are you staying fit?

Katie is a faithful yoga follower and has been doing classes from home. Nick's fat enough that just not eating out and not going to bars is enough to start cutting a few pounds.

Have you taken up a hobby?

Nick: The video game Doom Eternal came out at the perfect time for quarantine to start, so I've been playing through that and it's amazing. I've also gotten the chance to start putting the final details on a model plane that I've been working on for the better part of a year. 

Katie: Getting back into sewing—brought on by making masks—as well as crocheting.

Any tips for getting necessities?

We've been totally avoiding the big places and only shopping at small local grocery stores for almost everything. With the extra time, and knowing you have to stay home and cook, we've been more diligent about meal planning and trying lots of new recipes. We've been OK only buying higher-quality ingredients and making fresh meals.

An awkward moment since all this started.

We joined a Zoom meeting from the same computer and got called out for not social distancing. We had to explain that we were social distancing, but we're married, so we live together.

Best work email you got since all this started.

Honestly, it was the first one telling us to stay home. I'm glad we work for a place that was so proactive and on the leading edge of the movement to work from home.

An aha! moment since all this started.

It's shocking how much work can be done through quick emails and video calls. When you empower people to just get the work done and trust them to do their jobs, it almost always works out well. I kind of always assumed that, so I don't know if it's a true "aha!" moment. But it's refreshing to know it's true.

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

A lot of people don't start caring about things until it affects them personally. As more people start to know friends and family who get sick, they'll start to take it more seriously. I wish they would take it seriously sooner, but hopefully we can be out of this by summer. Michigan summers are something special; almost worth putting up with six months of harsh winter. I really hope we can make that happen.

See the full #WFH Diaries series here.

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Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is a founding contributor to Muse. She is also the co-founder of esports agency Hurrah.gg, and co-author of Generation Creation.

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