#WFH Diaries: Scott Friedman of Wildlife
As global lockdowns continue, we're checking in with creative people to see how they're faring. Here's an update from Scott Friedman, executive creative director and co-founder of Wildlife, an agency based in Los Angeles.
Give us a one-line bio of yourself.
Executive creative director and co-founder of Wildlife, a digital creative and production agency.
Where are you living right now, and who's with you?
Redondo Beach, California, with my wife Shelly, our 3-year-old son Fox, and our very patient dog, Starlite. Plus there's a neighborhood skunk that I think is stalking me.
What's your work situation like at the moment?
It still feels quite busy despite some projects getting paused, and we're fielding plenty of requests to help clients and partners figure out how to still make creative production happen in this new reality. Now more than ever, we're having to be inventive and find the most creative outlet and tools within a box we didn't build. We thought we did that before, but now it's even more of the new reality, because the oldest tricks are entirely ruled out. We're missing, like I'm sure everyone is, the random conversations that happen during coffee refills or the unexpected discoveries that happen when you just stop by someone's desk or peek over a shoulder.
Describe your socializing strategy.
Plenty of video chats to help feed that feeling of connection with our team. It's become an unofficial competition to show up with the latest and greatest AR chat effects as we all try to find ways to bring humor and variety to each regroup—something to spark the right amount of randomness and fun, keep the creative juices flowing and the team loose. We have recurring "office hours" that are our attempt at a virtual water cooler. And our #random Slack channel is always lively (as it was even when we were in the office), and it's awesome to see that continue, and even grow into more of a communal place for everyone to check in, share stories, recipes, gripes, memes, whatever.
How are you dealing with childcare?
Ha! As best we can, but it hasn't always gone smoothly. We had a big schedule drawn up on day one and quickly realized that was foolish. My wife has been watching our son for big chunks of the day in between giving her virtual class lectures. I'm able to jump in to support her schedule around client calls and keep our son entertained, so her 250 person university lectures aren't serenaded by his happy shouting. Outside time in our tiny backyard is the best solution so far. I've never had to do so many calls with a quick-draw finger on the mute button as I have the last few weeks, but I've gotten quite good. Besides, isn't everyone past the point of trying to pretend background noise is anything but expected right now?
What are you reading?
When there was such a thing as a commute, I used to crush audio books—technically not "reading" but it's what I was able to make time for. That's suffering big time, but I just picked up a physical copy of Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, and I'm finding it's important to revisit How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen.
What are you watching?
We were desperate for new funny things to watch and just finished Shrill. Of course, we had to do the required watching of Tiger King to keep up with the endless stream of memes. And we started the foolish and lengthy life-goal of watching all 156 episodes of The West Wing. In between all that, we introduced our son to the zany musical joy and beautiful production design of Yo Gabba Gabba.
What are you listening to?
Plenty of focus-inducing playlists on Spotify, ranging from lo-fi hip hop to downtempo-electronic. The Avalanches, the new Nine Inch Nails’ Ghosts releases, all mixed with an eclectic range of great suggestions from our team on our Slack channel dedicated solely to sharing new music.
How are you staying fit?
Daily walks/runs in the morning with the dog to get some fresh air to start the day, and a sprinkling of family walks around the neighborhood as the day goes on (and conference calls allow) to get us all out of the house. We've discovered this incredible world of kids’ yoga and workout videos on YouTube, where the instructors dress up like the Avengers or Ninja Turtles, and it's a great de-stresser for the parents as well.
Have you taken up a hobby?
Actually being home in time for a family dinner!
Any tips for getting necessities?
Delivery is a life changer, morning slot FTW. Forget Headspace, Total Wine is my new favorite app. Is that bad?
An awkward moment since all this started.
Having to ask a client if a previously planned campaign was still appropriate in light of current events. It wasn't something we were looking forward to, and knew what it would mean for the project, but it's our duty to ask the right questions for their long-term goals.
Best work email you got since all this started.
Notes of appreciation from people on the team after our latest “show 'n tell,” a semi-monthly tradition where we share the broader work being done across the company. It helps continue the traditions we've had in-office, and also helped confirm for folks that we're still firing on all cylinders, so the team can feel secure in just focusing on what we can control - continuing to produce creative and engaging work.
An aha! moment since all this started.
How much everyone in our team really enjoys hanging out together and interacting in the office, and how much you can feel the bond even through virtual forms of communication.
What's your theory on how this is going to play out?
Like other dark moments in history, this too shall pass. Hopefully we come out of it as a species with a renewed sense of closeness, empathy and appreciation for all the little day-to-day things we took for granted. I do think in many ways people will go back to their old habits and resume traveling, eating out and going to big events. It might be a slow return, but a year from now I'm hopeful we'll be able to settle into the best parts of our old routines.