May 15, 2020
The global health crisis of the coronavirus pandemic has overturned every moment and corner of our day-to-day lives. In this new micro-series, Shop Talk: Home Work, we turn to our network of friends, colleagues and collaborators for comfort and community, and discuss how they’re adapting to work and life in this unprecedented era of uncertainty.
In our 6th and final week of Shop Talk: Home Work, we catch up with Jayson Gates, owner of the Pacific Northwest-based multiline representative group, on how he's shifting from in-person interaction to digital engagement while keeping up with homeschooling his 2 daughters during quarantine.
Thank you to our friends, colleagues, and collaborators for the chance to share their stories over the last 6 weeks. We're grateful for the chance to connect with you, our network. 🤝
Jayson Gates is the owner of Absolute Resource, a Pacific Northwest-based multi-line independent representative group. He builds enduring relationships between design professionals and the most creative innovative brands for furniture, textiles, lighting, and acoustical products.
Tell us a bit about Absolute Resource. Where are you based and what is your role?
I started Absolute Resource in 2010 with the idea of providing a resource for designers to connect with manufacturers that share the same commitment to design. We look for creatives that share our values and want to build a legacy, together. We’ve been a partner with RBW since 2014.
Working in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska we are a multi-line independent representative group dedicated to providing the most innovative and exciting product lines to interior designers, lighting designers, and architects.
What is a “typical day” of work like for you, before the pandemic, and how have you been impacted by the ongoing pandemic?
Pre-COVID-19 I spent a ton of time—almost 80%—outside of my home office, typically presenting to firms throughout the Pacific Northwest. Throughout the year, we schedule trips to New York and Europe for trade shows, client visits, and manufacturer visits. Now with the pandemic upon us, it’s many more hours spent in front of my desk working on marketing, branding, and finding new and exciting ways to connect digitally with our clientele. We have managed to remain incredibly focused and busy throughout this time and in our experience, have seen projects require additional detailing and support.
We have also been homeschooling our 6 and 8-year-old girls a couple of times a week which adds scheduling pressure. I’m both inspired and hopeful that this quarantine event will not be wasted and meaningful change will be catalyzed.
As a father of two, how has it been to balance work and parenting?
This is one of the most challenging aspects of the crisis. The ability to spend much more time with our children has been a wonderful side effect of the WFH orders. It has allowed for a slowing of and re-orientation of our value structures in addition to how we prioritize our lives. There’s been more baking and home cooking going on and for that I’m grateful. I try and remember that I’m learning how to teach children and give my self the opportunity to fail. Balancing has become easier in the last several weeks as we have developed a process and become more adapted to the new daily schedule.
What’s your current WFH setup, and how are you adapting your space to make it work in the day to day?
My work from home set up is a modern space that I have been updating and organizing as I spend more time here. Spring to summer in the Pacific Northwest is a wonderful time and my space features a glass garage door that I can open to enjoy the fresh air. Natural light has become much more valuable as I soak up the vitamin D at my desk and take photo snaps for social media. I just created a media room—an adapted pantry space with natural light and acoustical wall tiles.
Pictured: Jayson's jealousy-inducing WFH setup
With your work relying heavily on in-person interaction, how have you found ways support designers during this shift towards digital connection?
We have all had to rapidly adapt to this new reality. Having a digital strategy is paramount. We have tried Zoom, as everyone has, and it works OK. We have found that there is quite a bit of tele-exhaustion as designers and architects spend their days in meetings online back-to-back. We are looking for new ways to connect quickly and succinctly without overwhelming our clientele. I’m learning video editing software and taking short marketing courses. We have also dedicated ourselves to more content style marketing so I’m trying to improve my writing style. We are exploring short videos and of course, spending time on Insta and TikTok. We’ve been sliding into a lot of DMs (laughs).
As you figure out what your new day-to-day looks like, what routines or activities have been keeping you motivated?
I like most, have struggled with understanding and responding to this rapid change in human interaction & connection. I’ve made a deliberate effort to keep things in perspective. I’m not the only one feeling this way and we are all challenged with this pandemic. I meditate every morning for about 10 minutes to prepare my mind for the day and get clarity on what I need to focus on.
Exercise, while not my favorite activity, has proven valuable to helping pull out some stress and given me the feeling of strength and power. Gratitude is something I spend time on to help me remember the positive and let the negative go. I try and stay in the moment as much as possible to deflect negative thinking and just get on with it.
I recently updated my personal WHY statement and it guides me as I navigate my life & business. My WHY is, “To be a catalyst for growth in myself and those around me and create an extraordinary world”. It’s a work in progress and that pretty much sums it up!
Pictured: Jayson and his officemate, Goldie, enjoying their home office breakout space