Meet the Brimers: Spouses Share the Perks and Cons of Working Floors Apart

By John Lacey and Kate and Adam Brimer

Adam and Kate Brimer met while on assignment for the Knoxville News Sentinel. He was the photographer, she was the writer—and it ended up being a pretty good collaboration, if they do say so themselves. After years of working in the communications field, they are now both employees of the University of Tennessee.

They chatted about what it’s like to be married in the workplace, with offices just floors apart.

Q: How have you handled transportation to and from work?

Kate: We are trying our darndest to carpool because we both work in Andy Holt Tower, and so far it has worked! There’s some planning involved—like when one of us has an off-campus meeting or needs to go in early—but it hasn’t been too complicated. Once spring comes around, Adam will probably get back into his routine of biking to work.

Adam: Biking into work is great when the weather is nice. That involves biking to a bus stop near our house in North Knoxville, loading my bike on the rack, riding the bus from there to a stop close to downtown and then biking the rest of the way to the office. It’s a great way to squeeze in a little exercise on both ends of the workday, and the bus ride provides extra downtime to get some reading done for my graduate program.

Carpooling is convenient, but we spend a TON of time together when you think about it. While it provides an opportunity to talk about work, we try to limit those conversations and be more intentional about our time together.

Kate: I think we both miss having time to independently prepare for the day and decompress at day’s end. I typically use my commute to catch up with friends and family, and that’s harder now.

Adam: And I usually sing in the car during my commute, so that’s out the window. It also affects our eating habits during and after work. Kate’s good about packing her lunch (and remembering to bring it), so that holds me more accountable. On the other hand, it’s easier to talk each other into grabbing takeout on the ride home. Maintaining our healthy eating habits is one of the hardest parts.

Q: What’s social interaction like in the workplace?

Adam: It’s funny having co-workers tell us that they just saw our other half, or the fact that they know a bunch of stuff about you and your spouse that they normally wouldn’t.

Kate: This really comes into play for us because I work in Adam’s former office—literally in his cubicle, which is now endearingly referred to as “the Brimer Suite.” Aside from providing some comic relief, having co-workers who know us both has been flattering and fun.

Adam: It’s a lot of fun getting to see Kate during the day. Every now and then, we’ll eat lunch together or take a walk.

Q: There are lots of perks to working at UT—what’s your favorite?

Kate: Access to University libraries, hands down. As a graduate student I studied in Hodges all the time, but I didn’t have much time to read for fun. Now, Adam and I walk over at lunch and check out books from the leisure reading section. Which reminds me, I need to scope out the Pendergrass Leisure Reading Collection.

Adam: Being able to pursue a master’s degree using the UT employee tuition waiver is a huge benefit to me personally and professionally. I’m currently working on my master’s degree in strategic communication through UT Martin. It’s all online and is completed during personal time outside of work hours. It’s already been a great benefit to my job as a communicator at UT. Studying does eat up time that we’d normally be spending together, but we work around it.

Kate: One perk that we’re both looking forward to is having the same holiday/vacation schedule. Or better yet—snow days!

John LaceyJohn Lacey  Contact
UT System Administration

John is a UT graduate and currently works in the UT System Office of Communications and Marketing as a project manager. When he is not enjoying time with his wife and two children, you can find him riding his bike or dreaming up big ideas.

Adam BrimerAdam Brimer Contact
UT System Administration

Adam is a communications coordinator producing photos and videos for the UT System Office of Communications and Marketing. When he’s not at work, he’s probably baking bread, playing music or going for a run.

Kate BrimerKate Brimer Contact
UT Foundation

Kate is the online engagement coordinator for the UT Foundation. When she’s not at work, she’s coordinating her book club or spoiling their black lab.

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