Today’s office: Adam Berkowitz on upping sticks from NY to Portland in a pandemic
Adam Berkowitz, chief of staff at martech outfit LiveIntent, discusses moving from his beloved Brooklyn, New York to Portland at the start of the pandemic, the increasing haze between his home and work life and his hopes for a hybrid working model post-Covid-19.
Adam Berkowitz upped sticks to Portland at the start of the pandemic
I’ve never lived beyond the tri-state area my entire life, but at the outset of the pandemic my family and I decided to up sticks from our home in New York’s Greenpoint, Brooklyn to Portland, Oregan.
I wake up every day at 5.15am and begin my workday, plugging into meetings throughout the day and in the spare time doing the writing and deep thinking that constitute that work.
When I lived in New York and commuted into the office, the days were very similar with the exception that I would luxuriously sleep in til a decadent 5.45 am.
I also spend some time in the mornings catching up on newsletters from trade magazines to find out what new abbreviations I need to pretend to understand. The big difference is I now do this reading at home, with a pet dog by my side, as opposed to the subway, with a possibly rabid rat at my feet.
I work in my office on my desk from 5.30 am until about 3.45 pm. Then, like magic, my desk chair transforms to a kitchen table and my office chair transforms to just a chair, and my computer transforms into a TV.
From my ’desk’. I can see a dog crate , and the wide spectrum of jackets one needs for the pacific northwest winters, running the gamut from waterproof chaotic neutral to waterproof chaotic evil.
Day-to-day I've made peace with working alongside others in tandem with less meetings. I've also found that strategy documents which clearly lay out which direction to go in have become more important for me and my team during this period. With good guidance in those forms, it’s much easier to take a shot down the field, so to speak, knowing that your co-workers are striving for excellence in the same direction.
I miss the variety of conversations in the office and having the ability to joke around during the day with people who haven't already heard your limited array of jokes an untold number of times by way of marriage.
That being said, I’m more productive than ever, probably because I’m not wasting time ruining other people’s days with my weird schtick. I am in a rush for a hybrid working model, where for a few days a month I can work in person with others yet continue to be productive working on my own for the majority of the time.
When it comes to having a routine in place, I’ve definitely gotten into a better one since the Covid-19 kicked off in March 2020.
My delta between meals at the start of of this was wildly varied. Would I eat lunch at 11am or 4pm? It all depended on whether I could figure out how to tear myself away from endless Zoom calls and if I had remembered to spray bleach on the bag of bread I had bought during a frenzied trip to a local supermarket the week before.
Now, I’ve learned how to order groceries online, and it’s no longer as socially unacceptable to turn off your camera while chewing.
I definitely haven’t struck the balance between home and work life while working remotely. When I worked in an office, I would commute in and could keep my personal life separate from work. Now the two mix in an unholy way.
For instance, I ask my wife what ’the ROI will be on shoveling the snow now versus when it’s a little warmer’ and we're both embarrassed for me.
I get confused and tell clients ’love you’ at the end of the call. It’s all becoming a big mix ’n’ match of insanity.
I also find myself asking my wife ’what are the key performance indicators for this side dish’ instead of ’how will I know if the asparagus is ripe?’.
So, maybe it is time to get back into the office for a few days a month...