#WFH Diaries: Victoria Gates-Fleming of Day One Agency
With the coronavirus pandemic ongoing, most folks are still working from home. We're continuing to check in with creative professionals to see how they're faring. Below, we chat with Victoria Gates-Fleming of Day One Agency.
Give us a one-line bio of yourself.
I'm a senior director of strategy at Day One Agency with a focus on brand and social media, but I'm also a part-time dog trainer for my new mischievous puppy, Buddy.
Where are you living right now, and who's with you?
I live in Silverlake, Los Angeles, with my husband Max and 15-week-old labrador mix rescue puppy. I'm also carrying around an increasingly large baby bump with our first child set to arrive sometime soon.
What's your work situation like at the moment, and how is it evolving?
I've been working from home in lockdown since the beginning of March, and I think overall we've pivoted really well as an agency to working from home full time—we're just on Slack and Zoom a lot! At the start of lockdown, my husband and I worked hard to make our apartment feel fresh and exciting as a workspace, so we would move our furniture around every other week to get new perspectives. We stopped doing that after a few months, though, when we realized we were in this for the long haul and constantly moving things around got exhausting!
Being pregnant throughout the pandemic has added another layer to my experience. I've enjoyed not commuting and the lack of L.A. traffic as well as the opportunity to rest more at home when I'm not working.
When you do you expect to return to the office?
Really TBD based on what we are hearing from government and health experts. Because of the baby I don't expect to see the office in 2020.
Describe your socializing strategy.
We're originally from London, so a lot of our friends and family are back in the U.K. One huge upside of the current situation is how willing people have been to call and to catch up over video chat.
In March and April, we had an intense schedule of family and friend Zooms that were almost back to back each weekend. Like everyone else, we found this tiring, and to be honest I think we all ran out of things to talk about! We still have lots of FaceTimes and chats, but it's less structured and more irregular. Since the start of lockdown I've taken part in a weekly book club via Zoom. Most recently I've joined a virtual bachelorette party and had my own baby shower virtually, too—all new experiences!
How are you dealing with childcare?
The puppy is our current child. Lots of walks and toys help keep him entertained, but luckily he sleeps a lot, too. Childcare for the baby when she arrives is next on our list.
What are you reading?
Kindred by Octavia Butler. And loads of pregnancy/baby books.
What are you watching?
Currently binge-watching Game of Thrones—almost at the end of Season 5. Also watching I May Destroy You on HBO.
What are you listening to?
It's hard not to listen to the news all the time. As well as Spotify playlists, top podcasts I'm listening to involve interviewing interesting people from different walks of life. My current faves are United in Words by Antonia Malim and Doing It Right with Pandora Sykes. I love Audible, too, so I'm always downloading new books.
How are you staying fit?
Have you taken up a hobby?
Early on in lockdown, we fostered two Chihuahua puppies, which was fun but a lot of work! We then decided to adopt our own puppy, so I would have to say dogs are the new hobby. Aside from that, I have oil paints and an easel—my plan is to get into oil painting on the weekends.
An awkward moment since all this started.
I was on a client call when one of the Chihuahuas we were fostering escaped from its pen and made a big mess all over the floor. Everyone got to see my horrified reaction on video as I ran around my living room trying to catch the dog.
An aha! moment since all this started.
I think we've all become more efficient with our communication. There's a lot that can be solved in a five-minute Slack call versus a half-hour meeting. But I do miss those serendipitous coffees you'd have with a colleague when you bump into each other in the office. As a result, I make an effort to drop in virtual coffees with lots of team members, with no agenda except a chat!
What's your theory on how this is going to play out?
However quickly or slowly places start to open up, the impact of Covid-19 and our experiences from this time will be long lasting. We're in the middle of these huge and constant cultural shifts as people try to figure out their new reality. The world feels a very different place to how it was at the start of 2020, or even in the first few weeks of the pandemic, and people know there's no going back. To some degree, it feels like uncertainty is the only certainty.
It's interesting watching how brands are responding to these seismic changes. Consumer habits and behaviors are changing rapidly and persistently as things like social distancing, masks and public sanitation have become mainstream conversation topics as well as ads in our Instagram feeds.
Further to that, the Black Lives Matter movement and ever-present climate emergency are both prompting consumers to make more conscious decisions about the brands they buy from. Shoppers are using technology to help make purchasing decisions more easily, with websites like DidTheyHelp.com keeping track of brand responses to the pandemic, BLM movement and LGBTQ rights. The Progressive Shopper Chrome extension sheds light on a corporation's political alignment, and a Taiwanese app called Scan Before You Purchase lets you scan a product's barcode to see a company's past violations of environmental protection laws.
In an era where cancel culture thrives, shopping decisions are being informed not just by brand relevance but by socio-political values. We are in a newer world that demands transparency as much as action from brands, and that can only be a good thing.