Home Office TV
Join Amy as she provides you with a sneak peek into how the Cloudflare Team has been doing with the transition from daily office life to working from home. How is the team adapting to the shift? What do they miss and not miss about office life? What snacks are they eating? How has it been sharing a workspace with family or housemates? Tune in to find out!
This week's guest: Tom Lam
Good morning and welcome to Cloudflare TV. I'm Amy Bibeau and this is my show Home Office TV or today I'm like home at the beach.
It's not really a home office and then my guest today is Tom Lam and he's floating above a blue planet somewhere.
Hi how's it going? You know we're all living the dream here, the quarantine dream.
Do you want to tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Cloudflare?
Sure so I'm Tom Lam. I'm one of the trust and safety managers for Cloudflare.
I think this is like my this is going this is my second year plus three months so with Cloudflare.
I came from a domain registrar background. I originally started with registrar.com and eventually moved over to web.com doing trust and safety issues and with a strong focus on domain registrar and fraud processing.
My day-to-day really is just you know looking at and reviewing abuse complaints, responding to customer issues and also reviewing fraud for our daily purchases.
Again with registrar and also our other products just to make sure that you know we're onboarding a clean customer base.
Yeah that must be getting is it getting more complicated in this moment?
I mean we can't really delve into any kinds of you know we're gonna keep our show today free of too many like overtones of anything but like how hard is it to make sure that we have a like a clean customer when we're when we're onboarding people?
It's not overly like the process itself really isn't overly complicated but with the multiple processing systems that we have and like vendors that we have that's when the complication comes in and you know I'm trying to you know work towards a building a a policy and process so that my team can follow with regards to handling potentially fraudulent situations that are you know that our customers may encounter.
So yeah like you know it's just it's just getting getting all the moving parts together.
That's really the difficult part.
What's the basic day in the day of Tom?
Like how do you like I know you're working across multiple time zones and stuff like that how do you know when to start and like when to end your day?
So I normally I'm not a morning person in the sense that like I'm pretty cranky in the morning but I get up early and usually I try to start my day around seven in the morning just you know reviewing emails and going through any like reopened issues from customers and whatnot and then you know like I get in I get into like the meat of the of my work around around nine o'clock which is like when the rest of my the San Francisco team comes online so I can kind of like step back from like cue work and start to work on like you know my projects and stuff.
So it's kind of like a typical day. Right now we are we've recently onboarded a new trust and safety manager for our legal support platform.
So I've been working to train Ryan Carter so if anybody gets a chance to meet Ryan and he's he's he's gonna be in Dallas but can make an appearance in our Austin office or or San Francisco office right so you get a chance to see him say hi.
Awesome so we have a second Ryan Carter at Cloudflare, trust and safety Ryan Carter.
I noticed that I was like Ryan Carter and you know in the chats he has like the TNS after his name because we have a we have an old school shout out to the old school original Ryan Carter as well.
He's a friend of mine. So and then how do you end your day like you know like how do you know it's time to be done?
So typically because we're we're 24-7 operation I kind of like do the same thing as my boss Justin Payne.
We kind of like keep odd hours so like you know a typical week I would let's say like Mondays I would you know start like at seven o'clock Tuesdays.
I might I might start later in the in in the day to give coverage for our team in Singapore so to work with them.
So it's it's kind of not it's kind of like based on on the need of of the team and and what I need to accomplish in a given week or or day I guess right.
So but yeah usually trust and safety's has has our has in the past like just worked random hours simply because you know we're a small team and and you know we quite often have worked from home for various reasons.
So you know like with the when the pandemic came and hit I don't think like we really missed a beat with our work.
We just basically grabbed our monitors and and set up shop at home and and just you know we just kept on planning through all of our work and and I think we're doing I think we've done a really good job with with the pandemic transition to you know working from home.
What's the main thing that you miss about office life?
There's a couple things but I think one of the one of the one of the main things is that Wednesday's team lunch.
The legal trust and safety and policy team we usually just you know drop what we're doing at lunchtime and and and and find a find a large table so that we can sit around and and have our lunch and just you know shoot shoot the shoot the breeze right.
So yeah like the the get the get-togethers with the team on on Wednesdays is is was always something that I look forward to.
And then there's a couple things what else? The people of course getting getting to talk and meet with everyone in in the San Francisco office and I think the lacroix.
Yeah I mean are you buying it for at home? Yeah sadly.
I go through phases where like I'll buy it and then I won't buy it. I don't like making garbage.
It's like the main things or even recycling like I don't like making creating waste in general or I try not to as much.
Like it's it's so hard I think as a citizen of of this particular planet in this time to never make any garbage but that's my main like blocker when it comes to like you know keeping a stock of it.
It's like I'll buy it but then it's like when I do buy it then suddenly I have all this recycling and it just kind of makes me mad at myself.
Like I'm maybe why are you making so much you know so but I miss the lacroix also and I do have a few cans here.
I try not to like overdo it. Yeah I miss the lacroix. I miss the people of course.
It feels like it's going to be weird to go back to the office for me.
Like for me it was like this was a whole journey because I was I was self -employed for like 15 years prior to my work at Cloudflare and it was a whole journey to get acclimated to this like daily office life.
Like getting up, commuting, you know going to work and I mean I was taking naps like those little nap rooms like those were my saviors.
I'd be like it'd be like my break time like I would just take a 15 minute break just like go downstairs and rest because it was like hard to get through a whole day like in the office.
So I'm a little worried like especially when I first started it was this really big like learning curve of habits and stuff like that.
So I'm a little afraid to go back. Take a nap on that that massive red beanbag chair.
Yeah exactly like I'll take a nap anywhere. Whatever the disorder is where you can fall asleep narcolepsy.
So have you been taking time off?
Like how are you keeping your work-life balance? So I recently I took like a week off in November or November late November early December and just basically took a I did a road trip to the middle of nowhere Arizona.
Nice. So that you know the only thing I could really hear was my my breathing and you know I had a couple things I wanted to go see like the Skywalk Bridge over the Grand Canyon.
I missed that. I'll hit that next time but I also wanted to see like the Meteor Crater in Arizona.
So road tripping is like one of the one of my you know funnest things to unwind like after after like a long day at work or just on the weekends and stuff.
And I usually bring my camera or drone with me just to just to snap pictures and stuff like that.
So yeah that was that was that was the most recent vacation that I've taken.
Other than that it's just like the most recent yeah just other than that it's like so we work we work weekend shifts but as a as a result or as a result of us working weekend shifts we get to take like two days off during the week before leaving up to our weekend.
So you know I get I use I use those those those days to just get out and just you know get some sunlight and and stretch my legs and stuff like that right so.
And have you started any new like hobbies?
Like some people are you know like like you know adding something in. Is there anything like new that you've started since we like started the pandemic and there has been kind of that more like solitary time?
I guess I don't know it's like I got a drone which is which I'm learning really quickly that you can't you can't fly you can't fly there's very little places for you to fly legally as a as a an amateur for fun.
But if you get like a license to you know a commercial license then you can do more right but I I really I just you know take my drone with me out on like these long random trips into the middle of nowhere San Francisco or California back rooms and just using my drone to explore where where my car and my my my legs can't take me.
That's pretty awesome so you're probably seeing some cool stuff and that that's a good um I think that's a healthy way to kind of deal with this like isolation like to take yourself on adventures and and still make sure to get out.
Like sometimes I can get really like isolated at home and like not have the motivation to um to go like driving around on adventures but road trips are definitely fun.
Was that your first time to the Grand Canyon? Yes yes but I've I don't know I technically I've seen the entire uh Grand Canyon I think when I flew when I flew to San Francisco for my job interview it happened to be a clear day over the Grand Canyon so I could actually see the entire Grand Canyon for my flight.
Wow that's amazing you are that I haven't flown over the Grand Canyon to my remembrance um but that would be a really beautiful thing to see.
Um what have you been your main like challenges during this time?
Like what has been your biggest like COVID bummer really?
Um just kind of like eating healthy, staying healthy, like trying to make sure that you know I don't need to have that burger or whatever that's taken you know just trying to make sure that that I maintain a healthy um healthy lifestyle um even though you know we're kind of stuck confined to quarters kind of thing right so um exercising and stuff like that.
And then you're not able to visit so you're Canadian and so um like going home to see like your family and stuff like that has been put on hold right now has that been challenging?
Yeah so so so um I've got I still have uh my dad back in Nova Scotia which is usually the person that I that I would go visit um but I have I have my I've still got three brothers in Canada so so you know they've been kind of filling in the gaps um where where I can't but yeah like my dad's not technology uh savvy at all so he doesn't know how to use Zoom so right so it's like just a phone call to talk to him but I can't can't really see how well he's doing unless unless I send my unless a friend of mine goes over and like and then you know FaceTimes me so I can talk to him stuff like that so um my my my support back home has been phenomenal like a lot of my friends all know um my dad so so you know it's um it's it's not a big deal for for me to say hey can you go over check on him or something like that so so I feel I feel you know comforted by that.
Yeah that's a blessing to have um do your brothers not live in the same town?
No they live in they live in uh Ontario.
And you're from Nova Scotia? Yeah. Is it Halifax? Yes. Yeah so but your your buddies like they grew up with you they know your dad you know and so they're willing to that's so great I think that's um I think it's really important I think I I see the way like my mom's kind of on her own you know she lives in um in kind of rural Minnesota I mean she's she's not far from like a couple of cities but um you know she's not in a very like connected place and so you know I think as a child you always kind of worry that you're you know like about your parents and their socialization and you know like because it must get I mean we're all I'm lonely just as a you know adult that has a network you know that I I still am connected to but like to be I think when as you're getting older and older like the way that our culture is kind of set up there's these disconnections from our extended families and and um it's so it would be a comfort to know that at least you have your buddies and they love your dad and they're willing to like pop in on him.
Yeah well my my dad my dad's lived in the same house for the probably 34 years now so like all of all of all of our neighbors his neighbors know him I had their numbers and and everything right so they they they also check on him and stuff too so you know I'm not too worried um I have a baby monitor in his house so that I can I can see what he's doing too so.
Well security camera on your dad dad cam. Yeah pretty much.
That's awesome that's I I if I would have had a dad cam on my dad he might still be with us you know I think my dad needed needed needed some adult supervision maybe we would have been able to because he he left our planet in 2017 and it was a bit unexpected yeah and and I feel like if I would have been able to spy on him I would have been like dad I don't know you know about these choices that you're making um well that's good and then is there anything that you're optimistic about for the coming year like since that's one of my questions I like to ask people like just to kind of see like see where they're at.
Well um I'm I'm super happy that there's a vaccine and you know looking forward to the to when when our age group can um can qualify to get uh get the vaccine and then hopefully um that the the travel ban will be will be lifted so that you can get out of get out of here and like just go travel and stuff right so but I I also think you know like with with the changes that that were forced upon us you know I'm trying to like look on the on the brighter side of things you know like where where we can improve on certain things or or you know maybe there's maybe there's like uh an entrepreneurial opportunity somewhere um somewhere there right so so yeah I mean I'm optimistic um in general but you know with the with the recent uh goings on I kind of dampened that a little bit but you know so it's always good to to to look on the on the bright bright side of things right because it doesn't help anybody if we're just constantly looking at the bad right.
No I mean it's certainly like I find myself you know vacillating you know throughout the spectrum of you know like ah we're you know like we're in a crazy time on the planet we we have some serious issues facing us as a species um you know like I I tend to get anxious about you know like the larger scale like biodiversity loss and you know these types of things I was excited that we had a little bit of a lull in commuting you know in these you know it's like save you know a little bit of the oil for like next time because I've always been real confused by the whole concept of like everybody like driving their cars like back and forth you know all all around um but yeah I'm definitely I'm optimistic about the vaccine I'm optimistic that um that this has kind of forced people to to like examine you know some patterns and some choices and like some ways that we we relate to you know society and the the earth and things like that um I'm hoping that after January 20th um like the country can kind of come into a direction where we're maybe like focusing on like really what's in the highest good for the largest number of people and I would I would really love to see you know obviously some of the divisiveness that um you know that we're currently kind of in an extreme situation of it manifesting like I'd love to see that mellow out so I'm hopeful that that there's a chance that that could be an outcome um it's definitely it's definitely an interesting time to be alive on the planet so when we do get to travel again aside from going back to see your fam what do you think is your like first place that you'd love to travel like if you could just go anywhere like once we can do that again what's what's on your what's what's on your first uh first like uh probably South Korea um oh wow yeah I've been there before and so just like leading up to you know the the 2020 year um a couple of my friends um came to visit me in San Francisco for a few days from South Korea so I just you know just want to return repay the favor I guess and go hang out with them and you know and eat really good food there right so um yeah just uh I didn't uh the first time I was there it was only like for for six days and you know I didn't get I wasn't very healthy I ate some bad food and stuff right so kind of kind of want to like you know um go back and like set the record straight we need a do-over yeah yeah nice I mean I always pretty much just want to be in Brazil um and so I did I did go in November of last year which was a huge blessing I kind of went before the Thanksgiving spike and like when there was less people traveling um to an event where we all had to get like tested ahead of time so I definitely will go back there um I want to go back and see my family so I think once we kind of get out of this um my family's in Minnesota so once we um like once the cases are not like spiking the way that they are kind of everywhere like I want to go see my I want to go see my mom and my sister and my nephews my sister adopted five boys um 2018 yeah my sister and her partner Adam and so I have these five nephews they're all brothers and so I was pretty sad at Christmas that I didn't get to be like buying them presents and like you know with them in person I'm the type of aunt that wants to see you open the present but you're gonna you know I sent them money because like I that was always my favorite gift as a child I was like I just wanted money like I you know I thank you for the sweater but like so I'm only like nine but like I really just want money you know um so yeah I want to see my fam um and yeah I want to go to Brazil other than that like I guess I don't I've traveled a lot you know I've traveled a lot but there's some other there's some other like places that it would be fun to like kind of go it's just Brazil always kind of calls me back and so then I just end up going back there because that's that's my favorite it's my you know maybe someday like when I have uh if I have some like savings you know like buy some like land there or something um but it's it's um you know trying to stay happy in the present moment I think is is the challenge that I'm that I'm at up against right now yeah I think I think I think a lot of us are in the same same positions you know I know I've been like watching so much screen time I just I just I just streamed Six Feet Under which I think is a great show and uh I was impressed I was kind of sad that I didn't watch it when it first came out because I felt like they're a bit on the cutting edge you know of a lot of issues that we're kind of still in the middle of so it was interesting to see like how the creators of this show um you know were kind of pointing in um like the directions this is a creatively done show um I have a degree in screenwriting so sometimes I think that I like to just justify that I'm doing research by watching all this tv and like maybe someday I'll actually put my my energy to use and like you know write some kind of programming because uh and so so it's my way of justifying to myself that like actually I'm not I'm not just like in a pit of depression like staring at a screen but I'm I'm like doing research for some future uh you should you should actually do that I mean um I mean yeah I I definitely it definitely would be good I I my I have a lack of motivation right now I'm I'm in a I'm in a space of a lack of motivation that the only thing that I kind of have been trying to focus on is getting outside and getting walking and and stuff like that and and now when you're you're working from home do you share your space are you are you yeah so like I rent I rent a place from friends of the family so we'd like share like cooking the cooking area but other than that like my my space is like uh mine and they're they're like an old couple so it's like you know we don't don't really bump like cross paths all that often right um especially like you know um usually like in my free time I try to get out of the house and get out of their hair right so give them some space and do you like to cook yeah I I I like to cook um mainly like Vietnamese food and stuff but they're Chinese so it's the the aromas kind of clash so I like I I don't cook very often um when they're around but aren't they always around yeah well then they'll like you know um they'll take like a couple days to go uh visit uh relatives that are like close by or stuff like that right so I use that as as my time to like you know to cook cook what I want to eat I guess so is it because your flavors are like impacting like their space or yeah I just want to be conscientious of you know like it it still is their place kind of thing right so you know I want them to say come out and say good what's that smell I mean I I would definitely like you know I can see where we want to be conscientious but sometimes like we also limit our own you know like things that we do like by like being overly conscientious for people you know so I mean I'm I mean like you know I I wouldn't want you to not be able to cook like I I lived in a place where um where I had a housemate and he was upstairs and I was downstairs and you know when I would go upstairs and cook it wasn't like like a smells thing but like he would always trap me into some kind of conversation you know what I mean that I I would like have a hard time extracting from and so like I would literally just like order you know order food for delivery because I didn't want to go up into the kitchen and then like find myself like getting kind of a pulled into some conversation that I couldn't see like that like extraction point I would set a timer sometimes on my phone when I would go upstairs and like the timer would make a sound and I would pretend that that was my phone ringing I have some elaborate strategies to like get out of uh you know that sharing a kitchen can be is I think the point I'm trying to make is sharing a kitchen can be challenging on like many levels and yeah for sure um I guess I'm trying to think of like what Vietnamese food like has like a strong smell but I um um so so like you know um like it's kind of like a bamboo shoot stir-fried beef right like yeah I don't know if you've ever smelled bamboo shoots before but like once they once like it smells it smells glorious to me right because I grew up with it but you know it might be different for other people right that that have not have never grown up with it right so right right has its own unique aroma that makes my mouth water but other people would be like you know you could find it off -putting kind of like back when we were in the office and somebody would microwave the fish yeah right uh I remember these these little small things I miss these kind of small things about the office like you know like I miss people like pinging me and being like Amy um it's really cold on the third floor of 111 you know or like hey it's too hot you know in the basement can you adjust the temperature we actually have like chatted you know like I've seen a thread of like you know on my team and like people were like oh like you know we just miss those interactions like hey we need something like how can you fix it for us yeah like I think the feeling of being needed for something is like something that I'm missing you know like like being able to help people like being actively spending my day like troubleshooting some kind of thing in the office or you know like supervising that the food you know what I mean is getting set out correctly and making sure there's enough for the vegetarians or you know just like being having little tasks of things that I'm doing that are like you know helping other people like I miss um I miss having that and like it makes me feel like my life is less um it's less exciting or less meaningful or something like that like I struggle with this like oh well what am I even really doing well yeah like I'm sure your day-to-day's changed quite significantly you know from being one of the office administrators to administering and administrating your own your own place right exactly it's yeah it's not as exciting I mean I have to go like we have some projects and stuff where we have to go to the office and um and like at the very beginning like after we'd really been quarantining for a long time like it was so weird to think like oh going back to the office because it's not that fun to be there when everybody's not there yeah you know it's just it kind of has this very vault like quality it's like big and empty and I miss the humans so we only have like 10 seconds left um but thank you so so much for being my guest today and thank you for having me thank you have a really great week Tom it was so good to see you you too Amy bye