Tools and Tips to Work and Design from Home

Sheltering in place and working from home for the past three months has been a surreal experience for CMG in the wake of COVID-19. There have been many adjustments and challenges for everyone in our community and beyond. Through these difficult times, it’s been inspiring to see how our colleagues  are adapting and staying positive and productive in the face of these challenges. To accomplish better work and design from home, here are a few of our tools and tips that have eased us into the transition to work from home life.

Keeping the Creative Spark Alive and Finding Inspiration at Home:

Lauren Bergenholtz | Designer:

“Early on during shelter in place, the Berkeley Stairs were an enormous source of inspiration and respite for me. Developed as neighborhood connections to the historic Key Route, these pathways are wonderfully diverse and lead through all sorts of strange and beautiful corners of Berkeley. More recently, biking to protests has afforded me the opportunity to get out of my neighborhood bubble and reconnect with the larger East Bay community.”

Nico Wright | Senior Associate:

“I am finding inspiration in having started a meditation practice.  I am on a 50-day streak of practicing mindfulness meditation every morning.  It has kept me centered, aligned and greatly helped me maintain a (mostly) relaxed state of mind.”

Tools and Programs to Work/Design from Home:

Austin Bamford | Designer:

“I am mostly working on a laptop—either directly on its hard drive or using the laptop as a way of remotely accessing an office computer. I have a small table at home that I use for all things work-related. Learning how to work from home has been more seamless than I thought it would be—I think the biggest challenge has been finding ways to have impromptu drawing sessions or reviews with colleagues.”

Lauren Stahl | Designer:

“I’ve been using an iPad pro and stylus to test concepts and draw schematic plans in place of trace paper, pens and a scale. Once I got used to the programs, they’re really fun and quick to use—I can make and edit sketches quickly and from anywhere, without big rolls of paper. It’s easy to draw an idea and then email it out to the team to get their opinions. Using it for scaled drawing has been a bit more challenging, but I’m getting the hang of it. I still miss my drawing table, but not the large format scanner.”

Rayna deNiord | Principal:

“Oddly enough, although it may seem counter-intuitive, I felt more connected than ever through daily chatter on Microsoft Teams. It was easy to check in and stay the course together – whether sharing screens to review a drawing, or a chat to discuss a quick question, or sending a link to a folder where information could be accessed or a final print should be saved – the communication and collaboration was fluid, supple, and conscientious.”

Martine LaBelle | Project Accountant

“Honest to goodness desk and a personal printer that scans to PDFs and double-sided copies”

What We’re Reading and Listening to Right Now:

Lauren Stahl | Designer:

“I really enjoyed the podcast Home Cooking with Samin Nosrat and Hrishikesh Hirway. It’s a 4-episode series where they take questions and talk about cooking and food during quarantine, but its light hearted and fun. After listening, I’ve been making savory oatmeal, with avocado, eggs, kimchi, or other things I have in the fridge, which is my new favorite breakfast.”

Lauren Bergenholtz | Designer:

“I’ve always been a big fan of broadcast radio, but have become increasingly dependent on it over the last few months. I especially love KALX (FM 90.7) and KCSM (91.1). I have been so grateful to hear real people speak candidly in real time about all tumultuous events of the past few months, even if only in breaks between sets. Last Thursday (6/4), KALX went of air for 8 minutes and 46 seconds as a moment of silence for George Floyd – it was a truly profound and emotional moment that gave me a strong feeling of solidarity, despite being alone at my desk in my house.  The shows/DJ’s that inspire me most include KALX’s Sex 14s (schedule varies) and Richard Hadlock’s Annals of Jazz (Sunday evenings on KCSM).”

Eustacia Brossart | Designer:

Spaceship Earth is a great documentary about Biosphere 2 and the whacky, inspiring group behind its creation. Biosphere 2 was in many ways the ultimate landscape architecture project: humans trying to recreate all the ecosystems of the earth in a glass bubble. Thirty years later, as we accelerate habitat destruction and climate change, their work is more relevant than ever.”

Austin Bamford | Designer:

Belonging: A Culture of Place, by Bell Hooks”

Matt Arnold | Designer:

“A Climate Fiction Book Club, run by my sister Emma Arnold as part of Department of Sociology and Human Geography at the University of Oslo in Norway. Book 1 was Annihilation, by Jeff Vandermeer (Part of  Trilogy) and Book 2 is The End of the Ocean, by Maja Lunde.