#WFH Diaries: Sarah Sampsel of Work & Co

As confinement continues in most parts of the world, we're checking in with creative people to see how they're faring. Here's an update from Sarah Sampsel, design director at Work & Co.

Give us a one-line bio of yourself.

I live and work as a digital designer at Work & Co in NYC, but my heart belongs to the mountains.

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

We left our apartment in Brooklyn about a month ago and headed to our place in upstate New York. I'm with my partner, John, and Katya the cat.

What's your work situation like at the moment?

Unlike many jobs out there, working remotely as a designer is a relatively easy transition. I set up a workspace exactly like I had at the office (with the exception of having a proper desk chair). I get up early each morning and try to stick to my normal schedule—if anything, I start earlier in the day so I can wrap up a little earlier and spend time outdoors. I have a comfortable space and all the tools I need to do my job. But I really miss the in-person collaboration I'm used to at Work & Co. Zoom meetings and Slack conversations about design work well, but nothing can compare to in-person conversations and brainstorms.

Describe your socializing strategy.

I think we've all rapidly gotten used to seeing our friends and family in a Zoom grid—every call inevitably devolving into Snap Camera filters and hilarious custom backgrounds. Aside from virtual happy hours and house parties, I've tapped into my longtime passion for wine by teaching some wine classes with a friend on kitchen.rodeo. Planning the classes has been a nice, structured way to socialize while also raising money for charity.

What are you reading?

I've been reading a book on the history of the Catskill Mountains to understand more about the landscape and the Hudson River School painters. And I'm hoping to read through a good portion of Anna Karenina, which I started reading about a year ago...

What are you watching?  

The latest seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Schitt's Creek. Catching up on movies I am embarrassed to say I didn't see sooner, like Little Women and Uncut Gems. I've been slowly and steadily working through a complete rewatch of Grey's Anatomy (lol). All of these activities coincide nicely with putting together 1000-piece puzzles. My go-to's have all been vintage Condé Nast covers from the New York Puzzle Company.

What are you listening to?

A lot of live shows, probably because I can't go to any concerts! Some recent ones have been Andrew Bird, The National, James Blake and Radiohead. When I need to focus on work I've been listening to the new Four Tet, and a few Spotify playlists that remind me of being at work—namely, Yacht Rock (good on a Friday!) and The Best of Triphop.

How are you staying fit?

New York state is full of beautiful mountains and nature. The house is situated right by a ski resort called Windham, so I can hike right outside my front door up through the woods to the ski slopes. I even took my gear up once and skied down. I've also been exploring much of the trail system in Catskill State Park, both hiking and mountain biking. So far, we have summited four peaks, some with views of five states.

Have you taken up a hobby?

I have a lot of hobbies to begin with, but I've definitely been using this opportunity to work on the house—painted a bedroom and did some yard work. Animal Crossing has taken over my life. I've also been having fun playing with sound design using modular synths, which is kind of like playing with Legos and making music at the same time.

Any tips for getting necessities?

Trying not to go to big box stores or supermarkets and instead supporting the local businesses here in town. Some restaurants have started selling groceries, giving us the staples we need. Is wine a necessity? I think most people these days would say yes. We've ordered bottles directly from our favorite producers and from local wine shops.

An awkward moment since all this started.

When leaving Brooklyn, I only packed for a week, so I basically wear the same three things every day. 

Best work email you got since all this started.

I've been so impressed with the way my colleagues are trying to make the best of things these last few weeks. My favorite email was probably the invite to a concert from a co-worker. One day, someone did a lunchtime Zoom where he played classical piano for all our offices around the world! Not an email—but we just started doing weekly trivia on Slack that gets everyone participating.

An aha! moment since all this started.

The number of dishes that need to be washed when you cook so much is staggering!

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

I know we will all get through this and return to normal life eventually, but I hope we all continue to reach out to our friends and family more regularly, and appreciate how lucky we are.

See the full #WFH Diaries series here.

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards, editor of Muse by Clio, and host of the podcast Tagline. He is the former creative editor of Adweek.

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