How Zoomies Balance Working & Caregiving From Home During a Pandemic
At Zoom, children have become common (and welcome) guests on video calls as parents juggle sharing their workspace with their kids and grandkids. Across a variety of departments, you’ll find employees babywearing during meetings, taking time during the workday to help with school, and being flexible to support working parents and caregivers of all types.
Even so, balancing work and childcare hasn’t been easy for anyone involved — but as one Zoomie said, “We’re all in this together.” Our employees around the world shared their stories, struggles, and bright spots working and caring for children from home.
Check out their tips on setting boundaries and embracing the wonderful moments that arise when the office, daycare, and school are all under one roof.
Stories from home
“I have 18-month-old twins so working from home during the pandemic has been challenging. I had to host several webinars during this time and in one of them my kids were screaming in the background — there was nothing I could do about it, so rather than ignore it, I simply told the audience that I, like them, was working from home, and I had two toddlers in the other room that were having a moment. I received so many nice comments from our customers just laughing about it or cheering me on, which was nice.” - Kristen Klein, Customer Marketing, California, USA
“The days are long, the work is endless. I would find myself changing my newborn’s nappy while listening to our CSM team weekly catch-up. It would finish at 10 p.m. London time and I’d take the opportunity to answer some last-minute emails before finally falling asleep — only to be awoken for feeds every 2 hours. The alarm would ring at 8 a.m., time to deliver user training to 500 new Zoom users. Safe to say, it has been a huge energy drain. But then our baby smiles, and his wonderfully useless noises and flapping recharges my batteries. My advice: Cherish those around you, take comfort in the small things, and remember it's not forever.” - Dan Beet, Customer Success Manager, London, England
“I have three kids (9,10, and 14 — all of them have been virtual at some point during the pandemic) and my elderly mother has been staying with us. My husband and I both work at Zoom and my co-workers, customers, and managers have been understanding if I have to quickly answer a question or move times for meetings due to all the roles I have to juggle during the day. My kids always want to say hi to whoever is on video and everyone has been incredibly gracious. Every now and again I even introduce my mother as well as my dogs and cats.” - Elyce Seaman, Channel Manager, North Carolina, USA
“I have been in the industry for 12 years now and most of the time I work the graveyard shift. I have an 8-year-old son on the autism spectrum and leaving the house used to be a struggle. It took a lot of mind-setting telling him, ‘Mama has work today and I will see you in the morning.’ Working from home allows me to spend more quality time with him while doing my work at ease without feeling guilty. He knows I'm just downstairs in my ‘office’ working and it gives him security knowing that I'm just a few steps away. And every morning, the moment he opens his eyes he can see me right away and give me hugs and kisses!” - Farrah Era, Retentions and Renewals, Manila, Philippines
“Working from home with a toddler has been 50% insane, 50% amazing. Zoom has been supportive in each meeting where my son has shown his dinosaurs or construction trucks, where I've had to reschedule because he had a meltdown, or we didn't have childcare.” - Michelle Dotson, Sales Ops & Enablement, California, USA
“At Zoom, working mothers are celebrated and so supportive of one another. Children are invited to show their faces on team video calls, my supervisor asks about my daughters by name regularly, and we have chat groups dedicated to other working parents where we can vent our frustrations or share ideas about sharing our workspaces.” - Elysha Gellerman, Education Account Executive, Minnesota, USA
Tips & advice from Zoom parents & caregivers
On setting boundaries
“Set boundaries for your kids where you have colored notecards on your desk, red, yellow, and green, that signify when it is OK to come in and disrupt. If (or rather, when) customers hear the commotion in the background, make light of it in a funny way that makes that human connection with them and allows more connections to be made. We are all in this together.” - Alex Pacheco, Online Account Executive, Colorado, USA
“I block my calendar from 6-7:30 p.m. on weekdays so that I can feed my kids dinner, give them a bath, and put them to bed. My team knows I will come back online to help them later but everyone respects my nightly routine, which is amazing!” - Kristen Klein, Customer Marketing, California, USA
On connecting generations
“My wife takes care of our two granddaughters (ages 4 years and 8 months) during the week. My advice to other (grand)parents, first and foremost, is to make the most of the time. It is extremely rare for someone with a ‘regular job’ to be able to spend so much time with your family. I share meals when I can, try to participate in as many ‘Pops...come look at this’ moments as I can, and do whatever I can to co-exist while maintaining my productivity. I think setting boundaries is also important. For example: headset on means ‘Pops is on a call.’ Leaning back in chair means ‘come on in.’ Hands on forehead means ‘I could use a hug!’” - Larry Michalewicz, Engineering Operations, Texas, USA
“In our home, we make the most of the Zoom platform to bridge two generations in our family who are dealing with isolation from the shutdown. Every Tuesday, my daughters spend several hours with my parents over Zoom, first learning the guitar and the ukelele and then cooking or baking a family recipe. I also take time away from my desk to spend one-on-one time on them, whether it's taking them for a walk, reading them a story or having a little dance party. I schedule this time every day, and I treat it as if it was a meeting with a very important executive.” - Elysha Gellerman, Education Account Executive, Minnesota, USA
On embracing the moment
“My advice to parents is to know that since so many of us are in the same boat, it's OK to have your kids in the background, on your lap, or involved in the meeting. It breaks up the day for others, it brings joy to others. I feel like we all love to see our colleagues’ and customers’ kids in meetings, so let that apply to your own kids!” - Michelle Dotson, Sales Ops & Enablement, California, USA
To learn more about life at Zoom and to view any open roles, check out our LinkedIn page.