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It’s Okay if Your Kid (or Your Cat) Bombs Our Conference Call

Future of Work COVID-19 Remote Work

Because of COVID-19, many traditional office cultures have recently had to transform overnight into remote work organizations. Since a significant portion of the Vynyl team was already remote, we had an advantage in this situation. Our workflows to support our team and clients virtually were already in place. Now that we’re all working remotely, I’ve been thinking a lot about how the pandemic is transforming work culture as a whole.

This quick and widespread transition has brought with it an increased recognition that we all have lives and responsibilities outside the office, as “work” and “home” life have become more intertwined. Many organizations are realizing that, for most of their employees, working from home now is about having more on our plates—not less.

Vynyl has always been a family-friendly workplace. Our team includes many parents, and we’ve taken pride in building a culture that supports families. But the current epidemic has prompted us to embrace that family-friendly vision more fully, and in some unexpected ways—and that’s a great thing.

Recently I was on a company-wide conference call when my youngest daughter ran into my office and decided to jump on my lap. In the past, I might have tried to avoid that situation in order to maintain a more “professional” facade (which generally doesn’t include having a four-year-old on your lap during a conference call). Instead, I embraced the moment.

I made a conscious choice to simply continue with her in my lap. My role as a father is an integral part of who I am and I carry that identity to work with me every day. When my daughter decided to join our company meeting, that became literally true, not just an abstract idea.

It was a brief moment, but it taught me something important about how work culture is evolving. Everyone has important things outside of work that require their time and attention, and those things have become even more visible as we all quickly pivot to working from home. Your partner erupts into laughter on the phone with their coworker during your meeting. Your cat hops onto your laptop and blocks your face on the camera. Your child has trouble logging into their Zoom class and needs tech support.

Traditional work culture has often meant leaving the rest of your life outside when you enter the workplace, whether you are working in an office or not. Now that our entire team is working from home alongside spouses and other family members, the artificial divide between our “home” and “work” selves is falling away. I see a tremendous value in that, even though traditionally when this happened to women and people of color, this was seen as a liability. Not at Vynyl.

Performing well isn’t about maintaining the most buttoned-up facade. It’s about being in the moment, being able to adapt, and still having the freedom to be creative. Of course, when we’re delivering a presentation, negotiating the terms of a contract, or speaking with a job candidate, we still make sure that we have those meetings in a quiet space without interruptions. But being present now often includes our families. As workers and as human beings we’re better off embracing our whole selves, rather than wasting energy and effort trying to maintain the illusion that we operate in some work-only vacuum. We support our employees when they have to balance life outside of work, so that they can deliver their best work for our customers.

Going forward, I’m keeping in mind that everyone is dealing with a lot more responsibilities that we’re all trying to juggle simultaneously—and the simplest tasks and errands are more complicated and time-consuming during this pandemic. The important thing is to be adaptable, offer each other a little more understanding, and give each other a break when need be. Now when I start a Zoom call, I often find myself giving people a heads up. Yep, my kids might decide to crash the meeting, and that’s okay.

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