#WFH Diaries: Tricia Mackenzie of Merge
Even as parts of the world begin to open up amid the pandemic, most folks are still working from home. We're checking in with creative people to see how they're faring. Here's what's what from Tricia Mackenzie, vp of marketing and business development at creative, marketing and technology company Merge.
Give us a one-sentence bio of yourself.
I am a self-described geek of music, fashion and technology.
Where are you living right now, and who's with you?
Born, raised and living in Boston, a major Covid-19 hotspot (special thank you to all essential workers). I'm with my husband (a full-time visual arts teacher now, teaching remotely from his studio), my 3rd-grader in full-time virtual learning, and my 3-year-old (who is full-time ... being a 3-year-old).
What's your work situation like at the moment?
I have been working from home since early March. What's weird are the things I miss—walking from my car to the office early in the morning, smelling the ocean while picking up a fresh coffee ... it's strange, the little things. I don't miss the traffic, however.
Describe your socializing strategy.
Keeping it real, it's hard being a working mom. Statistically, moms do more of the work, and we still are. My closest friends live outside Boston (New York and abroad). I have phone calls on the go, while walking my son. I chat on WhatsApp with friends in Spain, who have been sharing their lockdown experiences with me. At first I couldn't believe it, until it trickled over here. And I have dance party Zooms with friends in London. Connecting with my friends, even for a moment, is pure joy.
How are you dealing with childcare?
I'm dealing with it. We have none. We typically rely on my 75-year-old parents, but now we're not allowed to see them, so we only have each other (and I'm trying to care for them as well—doing shopping, etc.). I can't imagine how single parents are managing through this.
My husband teaches full-time, with virtual classes every hour, from his art studio. I wake at 5 a.m. and work as much as I can before lunch, then pick up the childcare. My kids still need to play outside, have someone prepare their meals; it's hard.
What's super difficult for me is zero privacy. I never realized how much I valued something as simple as a car ride alone to listen to music, or a podcast, or a solo run to clear my head. Those things don't happen anymore. I'm always with my kids. I exercise with them, I do entertainment with them, I work with them. I'm too tired at night to have "me time." I hardly have time to take a shower. That's the honest truth.
What are you reading?
It's odd, because I used to be a real news junkie. In advertising, you pride yourself on being super informed, not just of trends but what's happening in your neighborhood and the world around you. I woke up with NPR in the shower, podcast/news in the car, Twitter (@triciamackenzie) all day in the office, and NewsHour every night.
Since lockdown, I've tuned out. I'm still aware, but more just checking the local blog for news in Boston and listening to BBC 2 radio streaming for music and global news updates here and there.
What are you watching?
Workin' Moms just returned on Netflix, which I'm psyched about. The sentiment is so real and fits perfectly where I am in life. Highly recommended. I've also enjoyed Hollywood for a bit of much-needed escapism.
What are you listening to?
I started my career working in radio and the music industry, so I'm very much into streaming actual radio. My weekly highlight is Ana Matronic's Dance Devotion Saturdays on BBC Radio 2. I listen repeatedly throughout the week as the uplifting music, and throwbacks to good times, lifts my spirits. I even have had a shout-out via a few requests. If you like real house, dance and disco, you need to check it out.
How are you staying fit?
I go for run/walks daily with my son. He's over 40 pounds, so a bit large now for the running stroller but I'm doing it. Our park is the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University (almost 300 acres of green goodness) and they are determined not to close. Electronic signage reminds people of masks and social distancing, plus they removed benches, trash cans and bathrooms.
The spring is wonderful—flowers, trees ... I can breathe the change in the air since lockdown started. I push my son, listen to music, and take a mental break. I lived in the U.K. for many years, so we're out on both rainy and sunny days. It's so important, more for my mental well being than physical, a shift that happened since lockdown.
Have you taken up a hobby?
My daughter loves baking. While it's an activity that needs more supervision than others, I've been enjoying it more with her. We're making our way through the Flour Bakery cookbook.
Any tips for getting necessities?
I've always been an online shopper, especially for groceries, but now I can't get a delivery time slot (and I've tried!). I've been buying more self-care stuff, like soaps, scrubs and other things, to help feel good for the few minutes a day I get to be alone ... in the shower.
An awkward moment since all this started.
Isn't it all awkward? Saying hello to a neighbor across the street with masks on? The simplest things are all so awkward.
Best work email you got since all this started.
At Merge, we had our annual Cinco de Mayo cookoff via photos and surveymonkey voting. That was fun. It's like, that didn't need to happen at all, but people took initiative to make it happen. I sincerely miss those folks.
An aha! moment since all this started.
We can and should work from home more. For working parents (to manage the juggle more efficiently), for the environment (to save gas and clean our air). If you can do it, we should trust each other more.
Additionally, there is no going back to normal business. This is the new normal. Business needs to adapt to new virtual models and training, and adjust. Those that do will survive. It literally took a pandemic for some businesses to wake up.
What's your theory on how this is going to play out?
As above. This is the new normal, in business and in life. I'll leave it at that.