Agate Works from Home: How Ten Staffers Set Up Their Space

The Agate staff is working remotely. While we miss our Evanston space, we’ve found ways to adapt. From book stacks to helpful cats, here are how ten of Agate’s employees are working from home!

Hannah Masters, Content Development Coordinator

Here’s my work-from-home set up, complete with my lazy coworker (cat), Pip. If I had to give any tips for working from home, it would be to still set your morning alarm and get dressed as if you were coming into the office. It may not seem like much, but keeping that routine and not sleeping in and staying in pajamas all day has helped me stay focused on work.


Lucy Holden, Associate Manager of Content Development

Keeping that morning routine is so crucial. I’ve also been taking long walks to the park during my lunch break or after work to stretch out because sitting down makes me so stiff during the day (I’m missing that walk from the train to the Agate office!). It’s really important to move frequently—even just stretching at my desk or in my office so I don’t turn into a stone gargoyle hunched over my laptop. You might also notice the little metronome on the windowsill above my desk. That’s for after work when I practice violin. I even have a video lesson tonight that I’m looking forward too! It’s so important to keep scheduling activities—even if they’re all over video. Otherwise I tend to work overtime just because I have so much time, but I really need that break in the evening.


Jacqueline Jarik, Publicity Manager

I am working from my dining room table because it is the room in my apartment that gets the best natural light, has a straight-backed chair that offers back support, and has the fewest distractions. The space behind my chair has a low bookshelf with cookbooks and overflow books that don’t fit on the bookshelf in my bedroom, and my current record player lives on top of the bookshelf. On the left in the case is my record collection (which has another full shelf below the three pictured), which I’ve built from my parents’ old LPs and records I’ve bought for myself in record stores across the country. In my collection, I only have two duplicate records: “For the Roses” by Joni Mitchell—the only LP my parents each had when they combined collections—and “The Firewatcher’s Daughter” by Brandi Carlile (I won one of them in a giveaway). On the wall are two original prints I bought from my friend, Hannah Leathers (, who is a talented artist as well as a talented frisbee player. This is my zen place!


Cassie Gitkin, Publishing Intern

My work-from-home setup features some favorite books, my to-be-read pile, and lots of natural light! I also like to keep up with my planner and make sure I’m sticking to a schedule while I’m at home, to keep it feeling similar to a normal workday.


Kate Patla, Director of Instructional Design and Content Development

I have been accustomed to working from home since the early 2000s; however, with both my husband and I at home at the same time, we had to get creative.  My husband’s work requires him to be on calls globally and throughout the early morning and late evening. It made the most sense for him to have the home office. For my new office, we set up a foldout table in my 11-year-old’s room. She asked me to pay rent, but instead I offered her a bag of skittles. She made me the pen and pencil holder and decorated my desk with her Jurassic World dinosaur. I used to mock the headphone set but now find it an invaluable device to block out the other household noises. My number one tip for working from home is to make sure you have a chair you really love and are comfortable in.


Kelsey Dame, Content Development Coordinator

I have three roommates who trend on the louder side, so my work from home space is in a secluded yet bright corner of my bedroom. I’m prone to distraction, knowing that there’s always laundry or dishes to do, so I try to keep my the space around my chair as neat and as minimally cluttered as possible. Not counting my collection of candles, photoboard from a family trip to Ireland, and giant mug of coffee, of course… Finding the right balance between rigidity and comfort in a work environment is huge for me. The materials in my direct reach need to be work-only, but the surrounding space needs to be comfortable and inviting! (Not pictured: the assortment of my own paintings on the walls and the giant fuzzy blanket I keep in my lap at all times.)


Suzanne Sonnier, Senior Director of Content Development

Here is my main work-from-home spot. It’s a cheery corner of my kitchen featuring great natural light. I move to the dining room for video calls. My work-from-home tips are to keep your desk as uncluttered as possible and confine eating to mealtimes (especially if you sit in the kitchen)!


Diana Slickman, Director of Operations

Here’s my home office adapted for Agate work from home. Lots of clutter – and that’s after I tidied up! I had to shove aside my old iMac for the time being. South and west facing windows keep it nice and bright all day long. No standing desk yet, but I may have to figure something out. Like Hannah, I’ve been up and showered and dressed for work on a regular schedule. When 9:00 rolls around I tell my partner “I’m off to work!” and then close the door to the office. We meet at lunch but otherwise try not to get in each other’s way during work hours. 


Claire Maclauchlan, Publishing and Development Coordinator

My main at home workspace is the kitchen table. This is where I work on my regularly scheduled work-from-home days. Under the current circumstances, on days when my sons (who are six & two) are home with me, I have occasionally found it necessary to repurpose my dresser as a desk, so that I can close the door and take a meeting in (relative) peace. I find that getting up well in advance of the work day, even when you only have to open a laptop to get to work, helps immeasurably with mindset. I like to get dressed, have my tea, read the paper and then “head to the office.” I also find that an afternoon walk helps to clear the mind and keep energy up. As Lucy mentioned, it can often feel harder to turn off the day when you are working from home, but the kids help me out there, as they demand dinner at a certain point.


Elizabeth Pappas, Content Development Coordinator

I’m working from my parents’ house…and so are both my parents and my sister, so I ended up with a corner of the dining room for my workspace. Its main defining feature is a portrait of myself, painted by a random artist who took a picture of me at a Greek event as a kid. Other than the oil painting, I’ve tried to set up my space the way I have it in the office, which helps keep me in the work mindset. I’ve found that taking a break to exercise (or at least walk) in the afternoon helps me focus for the rest of the day, too. When the sun is out, I also get great natural light here (which is important given my distaste for overhead lighting!).


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