#WFH Diaries: Shirley Chiang, Viviana Molina Burbano and Jasmine Cruz of BBH L.A.

As the pandemic continues, most folks are still working from home—and may be for a long time to come. We're checking in with creative people to see how they've been faring in their new setups. Below, we hear from a trio of staffers at BBH L.A.—client finance analyst Shirley Chiang, account executive Viviana Molina Burbano and account manager Jasmine Cruz.

Give us one-line bios of yourselves.

Viviana is fresh to L.A. and is the self-proclaimed "funny one" in the group.

Shirley, with an unassuming wit, is more than the sum of her spreadsheets.

Jasmine is just trying to reach the top of the fridge (context: she's very short).

Together, we're just three millennials trying to survive a worldwide catastrophe. Oh, and Paddington the dog is a rescue from China who's quickly become accustomed to L.A. living by refusing to eat anything processed.

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

Viviana: A very empty Hollywood. Thankfully, I have my boyfriend to keep me company.

Shirley: Mid-Wilshire with a roommate (whom I surprisingly have not gotten sick of yet).

Jasmine: West L.A. with my boyfriend and recently rescued pup, Paddington.

What's your work situation like at the moment?

Definitely business not as usual. The short version? We've found ourselves living on Google Hangouts while slowly forming an imprint on our sofa. The long version: Each of our teams run very differently. So it's a mix of daily morning huddles and weekly hot sheets. All of our teams collectively strive to limit the number of meetings we have throughout the day. We've found that over-communication is best, especially in these times. The daily meetings have helped with motivation and they provide structure when it's so easy to get sidetracked working from home.

Describe your socializing strategy.

Normally, we would meet at "our spot" in the agency for daily lunches. Now, "our spot" just happens to be on Google Hangouts. When we can, we try to connect once a day (even if it's just for five minutes in between meetings).

Outside of work, we schedule virtual happy hours with friends and FaceTime dates with our family. Here are our pro tips:

Viviana: Schedule virtual dinners or have an activity ready to do during your virtual meetups. It makes life feel a little more normal.

Shirley: Don't feel guilty about ending conversations quickly—it's totally fine to opt for quality over quantity in conversations rather than talking for the sake of talking.

Jasmine: If you change the background on Zoom to a picture of your friends, it's like you're actually hanging out with them.

What are you reading?

Viviana: I recently started reading Becoming by Michelle Obama, but I've mostly been reading cooking books and online recipes.

Shirley: The Last Mrs. Parish by Liv Constantine.

Jasmine: I'm trying to limit my news intake by reading The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates and going back through my Brené Brown collection.

What are you watching?

Everything and anything. Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Apple TV, you name it, we have it. And (shameless plug for our client) now that Quibi is live, we're taking advantage of the free 90-day trial. Need some new shows to watch? Our faves below:

Viviana: Ozark, Westworld and any comedy (dumb or not).

Shirley: Dirty Money on Netflix. It's amazing how people got away with so many scams.

Jasmine: Chrissy's Court. It's everything you never thought you needed, in seven minutes or less. Also, Tiger King. Carole Baskin definitely killed her husband.

What are you listening to?

Our co-worker just shared a great playlist on Soundcloud. Also, Viviana has the greatest playlist of all time so we listen to that to keep our spirits up. But we have our personal favorites too:

Viviana: I have a playlist on Spotify for every occasion, so it depends what mood i'm in.

Shirley: Live sets from my favorite DJs since it'll be a while until concerts are up and running again.

Jasmine: My friends and I made a playlist for all our 2020 vacation plans. Just because the vacation has been canceled doesn't mean the vibes are, too.

How are you staying fit?

That is still in the works, but we are working on holding each other accountable. For now, we all have a pretty solid workout routine of walking to our fridge.

Viviana: I worked out once like two weeks ago with my boyfriend ... still working on it. We eat healthy, though, so that counts, right?

Shirley: My roommate and I try to do 10-minute workouts via YouTube every other day.

Jasmine: I mix it up between HIIT training and yoga with Peloton's free classes. But to be honest, that's only one or two times a week … or month.

Have you taken up a hobby?

We have, in our own little ways:

Viviana: Cleaning. We have all become clean freaks and it's a problem. (But is it really?)

Shirley: I started buying house plants and have been trying to keep them alive. Seeing them grow makes me feel like a proud plant momma!

Jasmine: I volunteer with the InHerShoes Movement nonprofit on the side, so it's been great to have more time to give back. But I've also really used this time as a genuine moment of pause to slow down and embrace the quiet time.

Any tips for getting necessities?

Here are some of our favorites we've shared with each other!

Viviana: Don't be a toilet paper hoarder, that's just mean. Order your groceries one week in advance in case the waiting time is longer than expected.

Shirley: Make a list before you go shopping, it helps you avoid buying extra goodies you probably shouldn't be eating too much of.

Jasmine: Support local businesses! Some of them are delivering or have pickup available.

An awkward moment since all this started.

We got called out during our agency meeting about having virtual lunches together, so I guess we are famous now for our friendship.

Best work email you got since all this started.

Our CCO sent a really nice email that reminded us we are all in this together. But here are some of our other favorites:

Viviana: Not an email, but I received a text from my boss saying he had dropped off champagne in my mailbox for our virtual Quibi launch. That was a nice surprise.

Shirley: I guess not a work email, but I was given an appreciation award. It's nice to feel appreciated especially during this time!

Jasmine: An invite from our team lead for a team happy hour! It was fun to turn work off for a minute and just enjoy each other's company.

An aha! moment since all this started.

Viviana: Worldwide pandemic or not, your mental health should always be a priority.

Shirley: Necessities you thought you always needed aren't really a necessity. I think we live in such a consumer-minded society that we often think we need a lot of "new" items constantly to make us happy, such as new clothing just for working out.

Jasmine: It's OK to not be OK. We're all grieving the loss of our "normal," so although Instagram may have you believe that everyone else is learning a new language, getting fit, or starting a new hobby, it's just as commendable to be simply trying to stay afloat.

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

Viviana: After the situation gets resolved, most of us will look at life differently. Our priorities will shift, and hopefully, with this shared experience, people will become more empathetic to others' problems.

Shirley: I think we'll have to fight for better healthcare, as this pandemic has proven that we are all humans who deserve the right for proper care regardless of income. It's going to be a long battle, but this is the push we needed for change. Hopefully, the economy will bounce back quickly once the quarantine is over.

Jasmine: When this ends, we'll all come out of it with fresh perspective and clarity on what's truly important. My hope is that we won't rush into the busy-ness of life and forget the community we've created over the past few months.

See the full #WFH Diaries series here.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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