Working from Home: A Diary from the Frontlines

Opinion and Insight 513 Add to collection
The COVID-19 global pandemic has disrupted how we live and work. Working from home is the new norm for designer Carlos Parreira and Havas Media's Greg James
Working from Home: A Diary from the Frontlines

Carlos Parreira, who regularly works from home running his home furnishings company, Lusitano Studio, has now had to share his 'office' space with his husband, Greg James, the global chief strategy officer at Havas Media Group, who definitely doesn’t work from home. As week three continues, the pair share the few ups and many downs of sharing a 'home office.' 


Carlos Parreira> It’s taken me years to refine the perfect WFH routine. You have to create certain permanent cornerstones, like the time to get up, time to go to and from the gym, lunch, and eventually the last-minute items before the husband returns in between those cornerstones, just get on with the rolling to-do list and any client video calls.

Greg James> Last year I spent five whole months out of the country. In a global role, travel is the norm, routines change frequently and there are pros and cons to that. So this whole crisis has been a change for sure!

Carlos> Most of my day is spent on the middle chair of the dining table, with the news on to get some bustling workplace white noise. Once the sun starts glaring on the screen (normally 4pm), I move to the couch and keep going. I know the routine, the dog knows the routine. He hears me close the laptop and automatically heads to the living room. This is well-honed harmony.

Greg> Since so much business is conducted via Zoom in an international business and our teams are spread around the world, it should feel easier to deal with working from home because, in some ways, nothing has changed. But the stimulus of working in an office really helps, the casual conversations, check-ins with old colleagues in the kitchen or office banter about what’s on Netflix or what happened over the weekend. So being home with Carlos (and Leonard, the dog), I’m keen to keep that chat up. Checking in during Zoom breaks, figuring out what’s for lunch or dinner, asking what he’s up to—to me, that’s how the workday goes, right?

Carlos> The chaos of this outsider first begins with him taking my chair. Yes, I realise that there are other chairs, but that’s the good chair where I can both see the TV news AND the sun doesn’t glare until 4pm. I can’t move to the sofa in the morning, because that’s obviously the afternoon spot when Nicole Wallace comes on MSNBC and we’re nowhere near that time. Also, I can’t take video calls with the giant tiger picture in the background, and with both of us home the dog doesn’t know what to do!

Once I finally find a spot where I can be comfortable AND productive (not as easy as you’d think), the intruder begins to ask about lunch. This takes three times as long as just throwing the usual together. By 5pm I’ve finally hit the groove that normally comes right after lunch, but HE now wanders into the living room, with the dog (traitor) asking about dinner. Since there was just no time to go shopping for dinner – who knows?!

Greg> Somehow, Carlos is a little less keen on this 'watercooler chat.' How does he survive each day like this? I get that one needs a routine, but the stimulus of an office environment helps, it helps to talk things over and even to think about some new topic for a while (like what on earth we’re going to do for dinner!). Maybe it’s about discipline—our types of discipline are different, he’s all in for a routine while I crave the variety of new people and new conversations each day. I’m not sure how long this is going to last but I’m very sure I’m keen to get back to the office!

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Havas, 2 months ago