Cloudflare TV

Home Office TV

Presented by Amy Bibeau, Suzanne Aldrich
Originally aired on 

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!


Transcript (Beta)

Well, we should be live. It's still always a little bit of a mystery. I'm Amy Bibeau and this is my show, Home Office TV, where we discuss what it's been like transitioning from a fully dedicated office experience to a life where we do our work from our homes.

And today my guest is Suzanne Aldrich and Suzanne, do you want to give us an intro and let us know a little bit about you and what you do with Cloudflare?

I'd love to, Amy, and thank you so much for having me today and thinking of me.

It's so fun to be here today. I'm one of your colleagues. I work at Cloudflare.

I've been at Cloudflare for five years, and I'm a solutions engineer, which means that I help some of our largest customers learn how they can best get all the benefits of Cloudflare for their Internet properties.

Oh no, one of those awkward things where I interrupt you while you're trying to talk to me.

No, no, I interrupted you. This is what it's like when ladies like to talk to each other.

We like to jump in. I was going to say, you're a solutions engineering manager also, right?

So you are managing a team as well as doing a job, correct?

That's right. I've been managing for a few years, and I work with people in cities across the United States, including Austin, Chicago, and San Francisco, and soon Los Angeles, and I'm hiring.

And we have a lot of fun together. It's a real big kind of a team feeling for us.

We really like to jump in and help each other.

And one of the fun things for me is that since we've been all remote already, essentially, even though I have colleagues in the same office that I share with you, I've been interacting with people pretty much over video or over the phone for a long time anyway.

So in some ways, the recent events and how we've all ended up working from our homes is actually not completely and utterly different from how I was working before, but there have been some pretty significant changes.

Right. You are, I believe, a mom. So you're a mom working from home with the family.

You keep layering it on. This is like seven-layer dip.

That's what I really want to eat right now, too. I just got a great idea for something to make, but that's right.

So on top of being a solutions engineer and a manager of solutions engineers, I am also a manager of two children, a mom of two children.

One of them is going to be four in September, so we're still in three, but it might as well be four.

And the other child of mine is 11, soon to be 12 next month, which is in a few days.

Where do the months go? I don't know. I don't know what day of the week or month it is most times, and some months go so quickly and some just drag on and on.

I don't know about you, but the experience of time was already kind of subjective, and it's been feeling extremely, extremely subjective lately.

But yeah, two children. One of them has been in daycare and preschool, and of course, when the shelter -in-place started, she had to stay at home with us while we were all working and couldn't visit any of her friends and has been stuck watching pretty much television day in, day out while I've been pretty busy in meetings.

And my other daughter had learning from home, distance learning for the remainder of her school year until summer vacation hit, and it's been really interesting having the experience of trying to help somebody achieve any kind of academic goals while also simultaneously trying to work and keep up my own schedule and how do you sit around and balance that out?

What's fungible, what's not?

And it's definitely made me start rethinking the way that I'm arranging my life around my priorities in the home and also, you know, personally, because I didn't realize how much me time that I was getting by commuting and these other kinds of activities that I've totally lost out on.

And so one of the kind of interesting and creative parts of this experiencing is how can I achieve some kind of normal semblance of life with the materials at hand?

Right, we have to get creative.

I think if there's one thing that this experiences is showing us is that like there's different ways to do things and like the way that we've always all been doing the thing, you know, maybe isn't like the only way to do it.

And so, you know, it's interesting that you mentioned, you know, the commute as something that, you know, was giving you personal time.

I guess, you know, a lot of us tend to have that assumption that the commute is, you know, a bit of a drudgery or like a task that we'd be happy to do without, you know.

But then it's like, wow, when you, you know, being like full on like mom at home all the time and with a full time job and a partner, obviously, you know, and then, yeah, that commute time probably you listen to music or a podcast or a book or something and you have your time to like think for yourself with like not somebody neat, like directly pulling on your energy with needs.

Yes, absolutely. I had no idea what a buffer time that actually was.

And it's a time that I was using and I didn't realize it to kind of unwind and de-stress and think through and process some of the things that were going on through the day or the week, especially that Friday commute and contemplate what you're going to do for the weekend.

And also, what am I going to eat tonight?

Yeah, I mean, what are we eating? You know, we don't have office snacks anymore, you know.

Oh my goodness, office snacks. That's something. You're definitely giving me a piece of nostalgia with that.

I actually just took some of the last office snacks.

You know, we were kind of portioning them out by like, well, when might we be back?

And when might, you know, we need these snacks and kind of like, you know, taking the stuff that was going to be expired, giving it to employees, donating it.

I donated a lot of our, when this first happened, I donated a lot of our perishable snacks down.

I brought them to Glide in San Francisco. Please take all this almond milk.

Please take all this cheese. Please take these eggs, you know.

And the fruit. There was so much beautiful fruit. I miss the fruit. Like, I seriously miss the variety.

I miss the fruit too. I've been doing the imperfect produce box at home.

Okay. I keep meaning to do that. We'll talk about it.

We're going to, we'll circle back around on that. I think it's great. And then, yeah, I just swooped up some of the last of the snacks last night or last Friday and I put them in my car and I actually will give them away when I see, like last night when I got home, there was a human who was unhoused on my street.

I live on this little dead end street and sometimes people find refuge on the street.

And so I just, you know, he seems, you know, he didn't have that energy of being someone who was unapproachable.

And so I checked in with him to see if he was hungry.

And I just bag of Costco organic mangoes and, you know, some Luna bars and some kind bars.

And I was like, here, here, take this, you know, take this food. So it's like I kind of have it in my car now to like distribute to the people when I, when I see the people.

But that's, you know, in case everyone at Kloppler was wondering, like the update on the final San Francisco office snacks.

That's where some of them have gone.

So, looks like you're working at home in your garden. Yes, I'm so happy.

I'm so happy that I have this available. You know, of course, when you're looking around for a place to live.

You're not necessarily planning for every contingency, but it turns out that that that my belt.

I have a balcony and I have this garden area with some nice soil to plant in.

And, and over the years I've been adding to this.

And I have some really pretty blooms the spring, it was pretty nice to have something to pay attention to in nature.

I think that there's been some pretty good science that explains that when you spend time in nature that it's extremely helpful for de -stressing and relaxing and bringing down your blood pressure.

And really helping you achieve a better kind of sense of Zen, which is so important right now, really kind of achieving a peaceful state of mind has been a giant goal of mine.

I don't always achieve it. It's been inconsistent, but it's great to have.

It's great to have the ability to do this. So what I have behind me are some, some roses over here and they went crazy.

They were just pushing out the blooms like nuts.

I actually didn't didn't didn't cut them. I pretty much left them they only lasted about a day or two in their in their prime and and they smell intensely perfume it.

They have an intense perfume and just being able to smell and touch even if it's, you know, the thorns and just getting out and trying to have some kind of tactile experience I found was really helpful for me.

Almost as soon as I step out foot in my garden and start clipping or picking a leaf.

It's amazing. It's just like, oh, care, worry, care, worry, and in about 15 minutes, just sitting out here and looking out at the sky or looking at the distance I've really been able to Kind of achieve some level of normalcy, maybe even something better than what I had before in that way.

Oh, and birds and birds to I know you, we were talking about the hummingbirds when we when we started our meeting.

Um, I love hummingbirds. I love bird friends I get to hear little birdies.

I live in a studio apartment. I was today. This is this the home office TV office office version because I'm in the San Jose office.

I had to come down here for a vendor.

But yeah, we have little birdies like that fly around and and for me it's been growing my plants like I've been growing little plant friends at home.

I've been propagating cutting rooting planting.

I'm at war with the plant nets, which I had never heard of.

Before in my life, but they made a visit and they they've tried to like become entrenched and so you know what I mean.

That's like my daily my daily battle.

My friend gave me some poison recently. I was trying organic like glass cleaner and that wasn't working.

Um, so I wanted to circle back what topic that comes up a lot on my show, which is Work life balance and we're kind of talking about we're talking about that commute, like, you know, previously the commute was the separation and that's when we know You know that our day is over and like, you know, maybe we have to like circle back on an email.

If it's super urgent, but you know, normally it's like that commute you leave the office that cuts the day.

How do we, how do you know when your day starts and ends. Now that you're working from home from a work perspective.

Yeah, I think that this has been probably one of the most challenging aspects of dealing with this and and probably the least consistent Practice that I've been able to achieve.

I've definitely been able to get some buffer areas during the day, but a good proper demarcation of when The business things must end.

And now it's time for my family and my family life and maybe, you know, even a moment for myself if I'm lucky I really kind of mark that as the point in time when we all log into to one of our favorite meal delivery vendors and decide what we're going to eat tonight.

That's the moment when when I think everybody realizes that's it.

There's nothing else you can really do.

We're done here. We're gonna have to save it for tomorrow. And and really kind of think about nourishing ourselves for once.

And I just really think that Food is is is inescapable, you know, your body forces you to to think about it every once in a while.

And when one consequence of having kind of a consistent time now that we're sitting down and thinking of ordering food is that it's like clockwork.

Oh, I'm hungry. Time to stop working. So, so that is kind of, yeah.

So actually using my metabolism as a way to hint to myself when I'm when I'm hungry.

It's time to stop and eat and get the calories because I'm I need to think, and I can't do that without calories.

Right. And also, you know, yeah, it's like it's like that biological need, you know, like work isn't a biological need per se.

I mean, it's, it's a, it's a societal need.

It's a, it's a personal need. According to my spiritual practice.

It's the purpose of being on the earth, you know, is to do some kind of work and, you know, be active and to be doing stuff.

But yeah, like food is You know, we need it.

Are you cooking. I mean, you said you're ordering but are you are you guys cooking to or On the on the weekends.

Now that the summer's here.

It's grill time it's grill time it's it's just taking advantage again of have some outdoor space.

So whenever I have something like that. I'm going to take advantage of it, everything that I have at my Fingertips.

So the grill. I went I cleaned it out.

I went Marie Kondo on it. The hose everything every I employed every you know substance that was non toxic and got that ready to go and the The benefits.

I think are really important of cooking. Absolutely. I'm taking the time to be, you know, as deliberate as possible and just put down the devices for once.

That's, that's something that's That are we always really loved in the summer, but I think has a special meaning now and about to go camping.

Really excited about that needed needed the time off so bad.

It's so easy to think, well, I'm working at home all the time.

I can just Not take a vacation, but I decided, well, I think this is a safe thing if we do it in a masked way.

So we're looking forward to taking Lots of hikes and I've got my cooler loaded up with things that we're going to be trying not to burn too badly on the campfire and and on the camp stove.

Where are you going to go camping.

Yeah, so one of my favorite places in the world is I really love and I'm from California and northern California is just like at the center of my heart.

So for me, redwoods are very important. They're, they're my friends and I have to visit them.

I need to essentially perform a redwood pilgrimage every year or else I feel spiritually bereft.

And so this time. Yes.

So this time we're heading up to a place kind of centrally located in between these wonderful parks.

I have to give a shout out to Jedediah Smith State Park, which has one of the Has a river in it that's never been dammed and it's it's a pretty beautiful environment to bring your to bring your children and experience.

That unbridled nature and the enormous redwood groves, then not too far away from that we have Redwood State Park.

And that's all that all that's kind of in Del Norte up by Crescent City.

So very, very far northern California. We're not going to leave the state or anything.

And we're going to try to make sure not to contaminate anybody with our Bay Area germs, but, you know, just, just want to be respectful of those people.

But I definitely feel like this is something that is important to get out in nature, as I was mentioning, it's been scientifically proven it's helpful for stress and I've been reflecting a lot lately.

Yeah, about my grandparents and their camping culture and why did America go out camping in the 50s.

And I'm just kind of wondering how much of that is related to some of the health issues like the Spanish flu that happened in 1918 through 19 and how much did that kind of Idea of getting fresh air and getting out and, you know, avoiding disease kind of has driven a little bit of the outdoor culture that we see.

It's kind of an interesting subject and I'm curious to see if anybody's written about that.

It's interesting.

Yeah, I nature. I mean, humans like evolved with nature like we wouldn't exist without the earth and the nature and everything that's provided to us, you know, from this amazing beautiful planet I The only thing I've been grateful for as a, I mean, the benefit to, you know, the world as we've all slowed down and been at home and been driving less is just like Oh, like Mama Earth gets a little bit of a break, you know, from the humans like constant like driving and consumption and you know it's like I just I that part I like I have no Qualms like I know people love their sport ball.

But when I think about all the stadiums, not having people in them that are using like disposable plastic cups or disposable styrofoam plates or, you know, I think about that just like just having a break of all that, you know, You know that stuff that we've made for our convenience that doesn't actually, I mean, there is no a way you know garbage doesn't have a place that it goes, you know, where everything's still here on the planet.

So I think about that.

I'm like, oh, like how nice for like the whale and the turtle friends for a minute that maybe they're going to have like less like plastic To deal with just this year, you know, just like a little break like I've often thought like, how can we, you know, because I always think like, how can we save the planet.

This is, you know, these are the thoughts I've been having for 30 years.

And so when I think about this like slow down.

I'm like, oh, look, the humans, the humans can stop doing things, you know, look at that.

Like, it's just like it took something that was like very confronting to our own mortality, you know, to kind of make us like slow down and search to reevaluate and I I almost think we're passing through this like collective like shadow space together, you know, where, where we've all had like so many people are having things come up and they have to like look at like You know, like, how do I handle all this for me.

It's like, how do I handle all this alone time, you know, for families.

It's like, oh my god, how do I handle never having alone time, you know, so Yeah, the spaces, the spaces of if it's been a forcing function.

Absolutely made me kind of confront a couple of things that I've been kind of just letting dominate corner of my life and I agree that, you know, this is this is a good time to sit and reevaluate what are what habits do you have.

And what are you reaching for, you know, when you're under stress and maybe make a conscious decision.

To change a little bit, especially if it's in a healthier direction for you because You know, when you when you think about coping, you have to plan for the long term and it's a marathon, not a sprint.

And we also have to remember to put the oxygen mask on ourselves before we worry about putting it on others.

Because you're very almost detrimental to other people when you're reaching out from a kind of a place of weakness and you're not going to be able to help them to the extent That that is really necessary.

So everything that we can do to try to evolve our inner strength, whether that's emotional, spiritual, mental, physical I think is really important and almost kind of a duty and responsibility and thinking about the challenges that we're coming up with.

You know, it's, it's something where I've started reevaluating and maybe it's a little bit of a midlife crisis that's just in line with this pandemic, but I personally have Great time.

Why not. Let's just do it right now.

We're doing everything else. So, so just just hit me with it and and see and see where we're resilient and where we can bounce back and where We need help and we have to reach out to others and get that help and take that vacation and take the time off that you need and Call out tap out when you've had too much because it's it's it's actually it's it's very important for all of us when we're working together and I tell The people who report to me that I need.

I need them to take time off. It's important that they do it. And it's not just because they're important for the company or, you know, having, you know, That kind of effect can be detrimental to them, but also for themselves because we want to survive and get to the end of this And not be an, you know, a terribly traumatic experience.

It already has been, but everything that we can do to dampen that I think is is really important and it's something to do, you know, why not.

So, you know, For me, it's been audio books at night to put me to sleep instead of doom scrolling through Twitter.

That's been, that's been a really helpful technique for me.

Twitter, you can really go down some, you know what I mean, any kind of social media like you can go down some kind of rabbit holes.

I I've joined like some like weird the kind of Facebook group that started in Minnesota that I used to like waste plenty of my own time.

But it's like a non political, you know, it's like, it's like this is the place where we don't, you know what I mean, like get into arguments about, you know, like our Yeah.

You know what I mean, all that kind of stuff because it's like Yes, yes.

In a very highly charged. I mean, along with, you know, as, as I said, you know, moving through what I feel like is kind of this collective like You know, shadow space, but it's a very highly charged, you know, time.

And so, you know, everybody's has a lot of, you know, there's crazy. You know, terrible things going on.

And there's we're confronting even, you know, the United States as a whole.

We're, we're confronting we're going through our shadow.

I think, you know, like, how did this nation originate like what, how was it, you know, how was it built with You know the land that we are all occupying right now as as people in the USA, you know, our traditional tribal lands that belong to various Native American tribes that have been here for a long time.

I'm so glad to hear about that ruling that occurred recently to return some of the tribal lands.

Yeah. Yeah. Really good development. A slice of good news is coming out.

Like what That was that was great. Right, like, okay, so that's something, especially, you know, yeah.

And it's like, so it's like, you know, this, this land is, you know, formerly You know, we're occupying it's like almost an occupied territory, depending on how you look at it.

And, you know, it's like also You know, like, are we going to move forward in our country and do the right thing, you know, when it comes to reparations and, you know, so I really think that we're kind of You know, moving through, like I said, this kind of space altogether and it's a tense time.

And so it's like, you know, again, like people I've been I've been asking people, what are you optimistic about for the future.

Do you have anything that you're you're optimistic about Yeah, yeah.

I have a lot of things that I'm optimistic about This is the, this is, this is the first time that all of all of the scientific community has pulled together and worked on the same You know problem worldwide globally ever.

This is the first time that anything like that has ever happened.

And it's, that's a really important thing because we're going to need that kind of attention and effort if we're going to beat global warming Another, another thing that makes me really optimistic is that Sometimes it does take a little bit of a shock to break people out of a pattern.

And I think that as an American we've been living in this pattern of just Letting things get go by that were right really impacting us all.

And it's like the frog that in the boiling water.

Gosh, I really hate that saying, but We were just kind of letting ourselves get boiled to death.

And now I think it's really important that people understand that we pay attention to our health care or mental health.

Ours, ours, we take care of our voting rights and that we take care of making sure that you know the information is that's coming to us through official news sources isn't propaganda or disinformation.

I think that we're starting to really get a handle on some of the technological challenges.

Some of the things that maybe have been creeping up on people like privacy and other issues like that are beginning to really boil over and people are understanding some of the impacts.

And fighting back.

So I'm starting to see people fight back and that gives me hope and I want to see more of that.

Because we really have to stand up for ourselves. And, you know, there's there's basic human needs, you know that Maslow's hierarchy of Needs and, you know, at the very bottom of it.

They're not being met and and that's that's, you know, something that's been happening for a really long time.

I think that it was It was intersectional.

I think some people experience that worse than others.

And when we have really trying times for the bulk of the population. That's when it's a good time for us to understand everybody's stories, get down to the primary sources, talk to the people.

You know, don't just read the news article that's written about something but seek out original sources and find out Exactly the kinds of challenges that people are going through together and then we need to remember that, you know, defining ourselves in terms of the future that we want to see and try to try to redefine ourselves in our communities.

Start challenging some of the assumptions that have been in our communities for so long, like You know, the fact that none of California zone for building apartments and maybe that's a reason why it's so expensive to live here.

And, you know, and understand how that affects our communities and our funding for schools and how it is that we conduct our lives because You know, if we're, if we're going to have A society, a great society in this country, then it's really important for us to understand those important needs and how do we Come together for something that everybody needs and not let some of these kinds of very superficial non concerns get in the way of just getting Done.

What needs to get done. That's, that's where I've seen a little bit of change and that's giving me a little bit of hope that we really have a big future to build together and I don't know exactly how that all relates to my home office environment, but I do know that when I sit in the garden and I look out into the sky and I think about our future.

Those are the kinds of things that I'm thinking about.

Yeah, you know, like I this show is very much like kind of like, okay, well now we're working from home, which means we have a lot of time to think about what's going on.

And so A lot of the conversations that we get to have here are like these kind of greater, you know, bigger picture things, you know, because we have more time to think about that bigger picture, you know, Oh, it's not just like, I mean, how long can I talk to somebody about like if they have a laptop stand, you know, you know, I do.

I definitely do have one of those.

I do have one of those. And I'm just gonna, I'm going to take a shout out to ergonomics right here.

Something about us knowledge workers.

Yeah, knowledge workers got to pay attention. I've definitely had my life be impacted by wrist pain in the past.

And so it's really important to me to get the levels.

Correct. And, you know, if you don't have a standing desk, then just having a chair that has the right barrel length.

So if you're short That you can get low enough to the ground that your feet are touching the ground, but you have some kind of a keyboard stand to get your, your hands at the right level to and it's really, it's important.

All those levels are super important. And, and, you know, the thing is that when you do that and Just let me jump in quick because your mom is watching and she says hi to us and Thank you.

That was so wonderful. What a great conversation.