#WFH in New York // Delphine Del Val

April 2020

With airpods in her ears, Delphine Del Val, founder of New York-based Pool, is prepared for the onslaught of Zoom video conferences she has to attend throughout her day working from home.  At the epicenter of a global COVID-19 pandemic, Delphine has had to quickly shift gears now that convening at her Chinatown office is no longer an option.

Delphine’s work-from-home space is situated in a little nook within her 1700-square-foot home.  The nook is lined with wooden shelves and has a window at the short end.  Her laptop sits on a circular glass table and a metal chair to which she’s added a pillow to alleviate back pain from sitting for long stretches of time.  She’s positioned herself in such a way to keep a more private and separate space from the rest of her apartment that she shares with her husband, Wes.  She had previously started working from home on her dining room table and realized that the conflation of eating, time with her husband while juggling work was not going to be meaningful in any regard.

The intimate space in her home provided the proper respite to navigate separating office life from home life.  So far, this has come with certain advatanges that Delphine appreciates.  If there is a quiet moment in her day, she is able to exercise or spend time with Wes.  In the regular routine, there is always a silent pressure to remain consistently productive and forgo any personal time.  Still, work life is not the same with the creative energy that is available in her regular office setting.  The immediate access to colleagues for brainstroms is cannot be replicated on video conferences.  The spontaneity is lost.

An added dimension to Delphine’s work life is that she has an employee.  To maintain a balanced working relationship is infinitely easier in person.  Creating efficient work streams is challenging remotely but, so far, given that the workload is at its usual pace, it has been manageable albeit a concession compared to the in-person, in-office dynamic where the roles are readily defined and performed.

The restrictions imposed by the need to quell the contagion of Covid-19, has led to most people working from home.  For Delphine, with workflow at a slower pace in this new normal, it’s hard to say if working from home will become a part of the working dynamic for Delphine.  She is open to it as long as productivity is not sacrificed.  Her typical day is much busier - with many emails to answer and meetings to attend - the office is better suited to that pace.

Still, when things return to some semblance of how they were previously, there are some aspects of working at home that Delphine would like to incorporate into her office life.  She would like to add personal touches to her work space so there is an added sense of comfort and familiarity.  Oftentimes, office spaces can become sterile environments devoid of personality.  An appreciation for the items that make your home warm and special can be a segway on how to take the learnings from working from home and adapt it to the desk space.  Afterall, we spend so much of the day at work, should it not resonate with aspects that keep us feeling connected to something more than just a space to make a living - but rather a space to create a living.

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