Many people who used to commute to an office every day have passed the six-month mark as remote workers, and we are now working from home offices, dining room tables, desks set up in the corners of bedrooms, or living room sofas. The folks here at The Verge are no different, and we thought it might be interesting to talk to some of our co-workers and find out how they’re coping with roommates, kids, spouses, and other distractions — not to mention having to find a place in their homes to double as workspaces.
For this article, we talk to The Verge video director Becca Farsace.
You’re one of The Verge’s video directors — what exactly do you do?
I am! How friggin’ cool is that? I drink a whole lot of coffee while simultaneously filming, hosting, and editing videos about technology for The Verge. It’s truly a dream.
Could we start by talking about the space? That’s a nice little nook you have.
When I was apartment hunting, the first thing I would look for was a space that this desk could fit in. This desk means a lot to me, so there was no way I was leaving it behind, but more on that later. In my current apartment, this is the only wall long enough to fit this six-foot-long slab of a tree, so I really didn’t have much of a choice. But it ended up working out well with a really nice view out to the yard on one side and Abe Lincoln on the other.
That desk is beautiful! I was wondering if you’d made it yourself.
Oh heck, yeah! I am always looking for ways to bring more natural elements into my home. The inspiration came from those really beautiful, long dining room tables you see in fancy log cabins. But I knew I would never have the space for that in a tiny Brooklyn apartment, and I also knew I couldn’t afford one of those.
So I went to the Big Reuse, my favorite secondhand store here in Brooklyn, where they sell unfinished, large pieces of wood, and decided I would make a desk out of one of these pieces instead. My partner at the time and I didn’t have too much money to spend, so we picked out a piece of wood that had a large crack in it, and was therefore discounted. We borrowed one of the Big Reuse’s rolling carts, and we rolled this beautiful six-foot-long piece of trunk home.
We then played Legos with metal pipes on the floor of Lowes to create the legs. Everything about building this desk was a challenge, and there is certainly so much more to the story — like having to glue the crack together because I dropped the piece of wood in the backyard literally as soon as we got it home. But every day I get to work on the insides of a tree and at a desk that I made.
Cool! Now tell me about your tech.
Oh man, where do I begin? Since I am reviewing products, I have a lot of tech coming and going, often multiple pieces of one type of tech.
I have the most earbuds though, and I am constantly switching between them so that I can really understand what works best when and for what. For example, as I’m writing this it’s 11:30AM, and already today I have used Pixel Buds on a walk, AirPods on a video call, and the Galaxy Beans (Galaxy Buds Live) when I was making coffee. Those three are my daily drivers and all live on my desk when I’m not using them. (I have learned if they don’t have a home they will get lost.)
Google Pixel Buds
Google’s Pixel Buds have hands-free Assistant access and quick pairing with Android phones.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
Samsung’s unconventional wireless earbuds are shaped like beans, but they produce a powerful sound and come with lengthy battery life.
When the Vox office shut down for COVID-19, I agreed to do every supercut (that’s a video where we cut down live events to only the most important information for our viewers). But only if I could take home The Verge’s Mac Pro (a 3.2GHz 16-core Intel Xeon W processor, two Radeon Pro Vega II graphics cards, 96GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD) and Pro Display XDR. And if I’m being honest, I’m going to be really sad when I have to go back to my late-2013 iMac. (I foresee a large update coming to that because I simply don’t know how I can go back.)
Anyhow, the Pro Display doesn’t have a webcam or a mic, so for video calls and working away from my desk, I have a 15-inch 2016 MacBook Pro with an i7 Intel processor, 16GB of RAM, and Radeon Pro 460 graphics card.
I have a 500GB Samsung SDD that I use for the projects I am currently working on and three other hard disk drives I back everything up on.
There is also almost always a camera I am reviewing on my desk, along with its lenses or mods. When this was written in October 2020, the GoPro Hero9 and Sony a7C were sitting up here with me.
GoPro Hero9 Black
GoPro Hero cameras have been the de facto action cams for years. The Hero9 Black features 5K video with HDR, along with an additional front-facing screen for when you’re vlogging or working in tight spaces.
That’s a great setup you have in that filing cabinet. How did you do it?
I have so many cords and dongles and just small pieces! So a filing cabinet just made sense to me: a large container that doesn’t need to be treated delicately and provides maximum storage. I also love the industrial look of filing cabinets, and they are easy and cheap to thrift. The blue dividers inside are a funnier story.
I really hate buying anything new and am a huge fan of upcycling. Which has led me to the very abundant dumpsters in NYC. (My parents get so mad when I tell people I dumpster dive — sorry, Mom!) There are large warehouses by my apartment that house many small businesses, and when COVID-19 started, sadly, many of them went out of business, which led to whole offices being dumped into dumpsters and driven away.
The best dumpster was from a clothing company that was really going for that Brooklyn outdoorsman vibe. They had tons of buttons and zippers and pieces of fabric, and along with all of those things, they had many, many dividers. I found those blue dividers deep in that dumpster before I even had the filing cabinet, but absolutely had an organization problem. Ugh, that was a great dumpster. (To be clear, I do not recommend diving into just any dumpster. There can be hella glass and pests that you really don’t want to come in contact with, but all of that is for another post.)
That laptop looks like it’s about to fall off. Do you ever lose tech to the floor?
You know, I don’t lose as much to the floor as you might think — knock on wood. I have broken enough tech to really make sure it is secure before I leave it. Plus, this is a standing desk, so a fall from this can truly be deadly.
Like me, your desk is littered with little toys and other tchotchkes. I count offhand: Must Go Hard water bottle, Little Panda, the rock pile, the plant, a troll doll, and more. Are there any that have stories that you could tell?
Play is extremely important to me. It is what inspires me, it is a large form of therapy for me, and it really informs my style. So I like to fill my desk with things to play with. These objects are constantly rotating but currently I have two favorites: the Little Panda piggy bank and the rocks.
The “Little Panda” comes out of the box and says “Hello!” when you put a coin on the white button, then he snatches the coin and says “Thank you!” A really close friend gave it to me too, so besides the fun it provides, I think of her when I use it, which always makes me smile. I keep a pile of coins next to him, it’s seriously so cute and fun!
Then, the rocks, I just move around in my hands endlessly. I would classify them as a “tinker toy” but also a subtle way to keep me close to nature and keep me grounded. I just love this Earth so much and am beyond grateful for the beauty it provides, so the rocks keep me close to that.
Is that a portrait of Lincoln on your wall?
Oh yeah, good ole Abe always watching over me. Most of the things I surround myself with have emotional value, but he was just a classic thrift find. I saw him and just knew I needed to see that every day. It’s actually a replica of Lincoln’s portrait that hangs in the White House. The funny part is I brought him home and put him on a hook that a previous tenant had hung and he just fit so perfectly. It truly feels like he was meant to be there. And I named my Wi-Fi after him because he is right above the router.
How do you keep the world out while you’re working — or do you need to?
If I’m being honest, I’m not great at keeping the world out. There are simply so many fun things in my home I could be messing with, but I know this about myself and actively set boundaries and rules to stay focused. A timer has become my greatest friend and worst enemy. I usually set the timer in one- or two-hour increments during which I cannot leave my desk or stop working until the time runs out. Quite literally, I need to chain myself to my desk, but I have found that once I get into a flow I don’t have trouble staying in it, I just need to get into that flow first. And tying myself to things gets me flowing with it.
Is there anything you’d like to change or add to the current setup?
I have been wanting a stool with a back for awhile now. I stand 75 percent of my day, but when I do sit I find my stool to not be very comfy, and I think I would be a bit more productive if I was more comfortable in that 15 percent of time.
I also have this piece of wall that has nothing on it above and to the left of my monitor. I try to let walls decorate themselves with things that naturally find their way into my life, like Abe, but this has been white for a few months now, and it’s starting to bother me. Whatever it ends up being, I know it can’t be too big or it will make the wall feel small, and I know that it can’t be in a beefy frame that might compete with Abe. I think about this at least once a day and have been eyeing Oxford Pennant’s website for awhile now… Suggestions are welcome!
Is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to tell us about?
I just wanna say thank you to everyone reading this. I feel so grateful for being able to wake up and create every day, and without everyone tuning in I simply wouldn’t be able to do that. It’s weird times man, but the support I have received from y’all has really been such a source of light. Okay! That’s all. Sappy Becca out. Be well, buds!
Update February 9th, 2021, 10:30AM ET: This article was originally published on October 1st, 2020; the prices have been updated.