Taking a Shortcut: Richard Huffaker
What do you do at Shortcut?
I write, I make videos, I say words out loud.
How long have you been here?
Since January of 2020. I came over from Sentry.io, where I was the Head of Content for 2 ½ years.
Why are you the first person profiled here?
To create the template for future profiles of everyone else. We’ll profile people weekly, choosing the person to be profiled by drawing names from a hat.
What do you do in your free time?
I write, I make videos, I say words out loud. My last big personal project was co-directing / editing a musical comedy about a washed up rockstar that played at weirdo film festivals all over the place, most recently in Louisville, a city that is world renowned as the Hollywood of Kentucky. I do all of this side work under a pen name.
Are you always remote or temporarily remote?
I’m always remote, working from my place in San Francisco (Shortcut is based in NYC).
What’s your work from home setup like?
I do most of my creative stuff on a 27in iMac Pro, and use my work issued MacBook Pro for more administrative tasks. I also use the laptop when I want to work outside on my small back patio, a luxury I try to take advantage of in crowded San Francisco.
Otherwise my desk is in my living room and that’s where I spend most of my time during the day.
The main software tools I use to be productive are Final Cut Pro, Screenflow, Photoshop, Google Docs, Scrivener, Prismic, GitHub, and Jira... wait, no, I mean Shortcut!
What do you struggle with while working from home?
My biggest struggle at home is the same struggle I have in an office: creative work of any kind takes extended focus to do well. It can be difficult for me to finish a blog post or put a video together if I’m continually interrupted by meetings or even friendly conversation. But that’s true for most people doing most office work.
In the near term, the biggest struggle has simply been that my partner is now also working from home, and she works in a test kitchen. This means she cooks numerous versions of the same thing each day and we then have to eat it. That may sound fun until you’re looking at twenty hard boiled eggs or thirty pieces of Texas toast. Or until you’ve eaten four handfuls of french fries and realize what a terrible mistake you’ve made. You know what, it’s still fun and I’m extremely lucky to be in this position.
In the long term, I’d say the issue will be isolation. That’s why it’s important for me to take daily walks through my neighborhood (once that’s totally ok to regularly do again) and make lots of plans with friends and video calls with colleagues.
What are your tips for dealing with work from home struggles?
On the isolation front, it’s important for me to take daily walks through my neighborhood (once that’s totally ok to regularly do again) and make lots of plans with friends and video calls with colleagues. I need to make myself do these things since isolation can become self-reinforcing:
- I schedule weekly / bi-weekly hangouts (now video chats due to Coronavirus) with friends. We don’t make it to all of them, but by simply having them on the schedule we usually do get together.
- I’m playing video games — like Red Dead Redemption online and The Forest — that have a social element so I can hangout with friends while I play them.
- I go for a short walk as soon as I start to get eye strain and brain fog. That almost always helps clear my head up completely and make me feel like part of the world again.
On the distraction front, I'd highly recommend reading our Distributed Joy post on avoiding distraction while working from home.
What have you learned while working at Shortcut?
That it’s possible to form strong bonds with colleagues even when you never see them in person. I feel just as close to my teammates in Marketing as I did with my teammates in Marketing and Creative at Sentry (and I felt, and still do feel, very close to everyone there), and Shortcut’s use of Donut for Slack automatically ensures I have virtual video call "donuts" with colleagues at random every couple of weeks to increase my connections to people across the company.
Ultimately, I feel like I'm part of a strong team and I hope to contribute to making it even stronger.