Simplification is Our Innovation

Working Parents During a Worldwide Pandemic

June 2020

For the past few months, life has looked very different for companies, employees and their families. With health and safety being the top priority during the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies transitioned employees to working from home, and schools around the world did the same for students. Parents and children worked side by side at kitchen tables, parents became fill-in teachers and children became temporary co-workers. Hear from some of our employees about what it's been like to be a working parent during a worldwide pandemic. 

My usual morning trip to the breakroom for coffee has turned into making toast and getting juice for my daughter. I remind myself that this new routine is temporary, and one day she will no longer need or want my help. Remembering that makes it easier to enjoy and make the most of this unexpected time we have together during quarantine.

Gillian Floyd, Global Marcom Manager

COVID has had such a negative impact on people and the economy, but there have been some positive aspects at home, such as spending so much time with my two year old and watching him grow. I truly appreciate the time we have had together, although it is difficult at times. I think the most frustrating and satisfying experience I have found in working from home is that my son has too much of my personality, for better or worse.

It is as if my child has a sixth sense. While I listened to meetings, he would be quiet and well behaved...until it was my turn to unmute and begin speaking. Of course he would choose this time to begin yelling, moving chairs and demanding that I leave my seat. A friend with a lifetime of experience told me, "Being a father is the most difficult and challenging job, but it’s also the best job I have ever had." I am fondly reminded of this daily.

—Jeff Reams, Global Account Manager

"Daddy, Daddy, can I come see your job?" I teleworked from my son's bedroom during the COVID crisis, so I let him stay with me for a while one day during work. Before long, he asked me another question, "Daddy, Daddy, do you REALLY spend all day typing on your laptop and talking with your colleagues?" Haha!

—Renaud Loof, Quality & Continuous Improvement Manager

During the coronavirus pandemic, I have been able to work remotely for most of the time. My husband and I are doing our regular work as employees, homeschooling two young children, and being parents; honestly, being all three roles at the same time every day is not easy. My kids are so used to having us at home every day now. Whenever I have to go to work in the morning, it’s like breaking their little hearts each time. But I feel lucky that I still have a full-time job, and I am grateful that my company has been flexible for parents like me. Devices and the internet are main ingredients in our lives. Kids use Chromebooks for their school’s distance learning, we use our laptops for work and we use personal laptops for online piano and karate classes. My daughter even had a virtual piano recital. Without technology, we would not be able to get through this pandemic “normally.”

—Phoebe Hitchcock, Design Engineer

During COVID, my daughter was home taking college courses and trying every baking trend floating around social media. Her first quest was to make sourdough bread. She had a yeast concoction growing in the kitchen for two weeks, and she had to feed it like it was her pet. She even gave it a name. Once the 2 weeks were over, it was time to see if it was ready, which meant seeing if it floated in water. After several days of it not being ready, the time had finally come to roll it out and make sourdough bread. By now, three weeks in, I"m dying for some sourdough. When this thing came out of the oven, it was about an inch high, a foot long and weighed like five pounds. I took a bite, said not bad, went in the other room and spit it out. My daughter eventually came around to the fact that it sucked and agreed with me that spending $5 at Panera for a loaf of sourdough bread is the way to go. While her bread was a failure, she has since become the go-to member of the family for birthday cakes. Although COVID hasn't been easy, I am glad for the memories made at home.

—Joe Mastriano, RF BU Director

In these unchartered times, I try to focus on the good things that have resulted from this pandemic rather than the negative. For me and my family, life has become more simple. We are not rushing from school, to karate or dance... we are not running to the grocery store or some other errand every day. Just last week, my children played with life-sized (well, child-sized) balls in the yard for hours. They had so much fun. Then my husband grilled hot dogs and we ate dinner outside under the tree in the yard, picnic-style! It's memories like these that make me grateful for this extra time we get as a family, even in the midst of harship.

—Tori Jenks, HR Coordinator