Cloudflare TV

Home Office TV

Presented by Amy Bibeau, Annika Garbers
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!

This week's guest: Annika Garbers


Transcript (Beta)

Good morning, welcome to Cloudflare TV. I'm Amy Bibeau and I host the illustrious Home Office TV and today we are very lucky to have Annika Garbers.

Annika, hi, good morning, welcome.

Hello, thank you so much. I'm so excited to be on your show. How are you doing?

That's the big question. Oh, I am good. I'm so happy we're having this conversation.

We were just chatting a little bit about how I feel like I talk to people all day because my job is very meeting heavy but like real non-work related conversation is not something that I get to enjoy a lot of these days so I'm very excited about it.

Yes, yeah, we were discussing that our interactions via meetings are sometimes kind of transactional, like you're there to do a specific thing and then you're not, you know, because everybody, we're assuming everybody has Zoom fatigue and so we're we're trying not to like, you know, over engage I guess our co-workers and like other things because we want to stay focused and yeah that can feel a little disconnected, right?

It's like we, I love this show because we just get to have a regular organic conversation, you know, and somehow it's still part of my job so yay.

Awesome. So where are you right now and how's it going with the pandemic land?

Where are you living? Yeah, I am in Atlanta right now, the middle of Atlanta.

I grew up in the Atlanta suburbs like 20 minutes outside of here and I actually came home back to Georgia for spring break from school in March 2019 right before all of this started and then kind of just got stuck here and graduated and started working through the pandemic and stayed in Atlanta and honestly it's really grown on me.

I love this city and I love being able to have the flexibility to work from here now.

And are you living at home with family?

I am not. I was for a little bit for a temporary situation but found a new place so I am living in this really awesome old building that used to be a cotton warehouse in the middle of Atlanta.

Yeah, with just me and my partner and it's kind of a mixed office and residential space which is really nice.

That sounds fun.

Yeah, I remember watching your like pandemic, you know, office space like when you were at your family's you had like an attic or something like that.

I thought it was an attic.

Yeah, when I started out everyone was like very concerned about me because I was working in this unfinished attic because it was the quietest place in the house that I was staying in and I would like get on meetings and people would be like are you okay like blink a couple of times if you need us to come save you.

Do you need help? Because it really looked like I was like I don't know in a barn or something and now I have my beautiful virtual background on so you can't see but my background now is actually not bad during the day but when it gets dark in here it looks a little dungeon-y because it's got the kind of like old rustic brick so people are still concerned but just in a little bit different in a different way.

So what is your role at Cloudflare? I am a product manager so I'm the product manager for Magic Transit which is our layer 3 DDoS mitigation solution and then I'm also working on cooking up some new stuff in the Cloudflare 1 space with some other product managers that I'm super excited about.

That's exciting and you were an intern previously to join in full-time? I was, yeah, I interned at Cloudflare in summer 2019 as a product manager intern with the same team that work with now mostly the same core group of engineers but a totally different product.

My internship was actually before the product that I worked on now even exists which kind of shows you how fast things move at Cloudflare.

Yeah the product side of Cloudflare is something that kind of is beyond like this which is the last.

I think I just lost Amy.

I'm not sure if it's her or me. Oh there we go.

I think we're back. I can't hear you. I'm muted. Okay to my loyal watcher, sorry that that happened.

I think we're still live. I don't know, you know, I have Comcast.

I don't know. Fingers crossed that it's through the rest of this.

Yeah, yeah I was saying something.

You started saying something about the product side, yeah, being different or something.

Yeah well I just, there's so much going on and we're always constantly like shipping new things and I can see how many of your meetings would be very like, you know, focused on that.

So have you started any like new hobbies or like what have, how has the pandemic like, you know, changed your life?

Like what have you done that's new and different?

Yeah so I started working directly after graduating from college.

So I graduated in May 2020. The last couple months of my senior year were fully remote and then my plan originally was to like take a couple months off and travel and then start at Cloudflare in July or something late summer.

And that obviously didn't happen and I was kind of at home so I just started working right away.

And so I definitely had like a very hard transition from college where a lot of my hobbies were defined around college environment.

My main thing that I did in college was build race cars.

Actually I was on a Formula Hybrid race car team with a bunch of other awesome engineering women and that is like not an option right now obviously because I'm not at school.

And even at school they like can't really go in the shop and build stuff so I've had to find new things definitely.

I've gotten back into reading which is really awesome. I feel like that was, I've loved to read my entire life and something that I really didn't have time or struggled to make time for in college.

I started doing watercolors which I'm not good at but it's very fun as like a cathartic hobby to just produce something and create something even if it's bad.

Just put it out there. And I picked up the piano again which has been really wonderful.

I played piano for like 10 years, 12 years, something like that growing up and taught for a little while but hadn't lived at a place with a piano for a long time.

And the apartment that I'm in right now has one which is really fantastic.

Wow there's just a piano like in the apartment?

Yeah yeah so we got super lucky this place is furnished. There's also a guitar behind me which people always ask about but I don't play guitar it was just here when I moved in so maybe I need to pick that one up and learn it so I'm not an imposter here with like stage props that I don't actually play behind me.

But yeah there's a piano it's super nice having that there. I also started making watercolors.

I was making them a little bit before the pandemic but I've been making them more now so I mean you know maybe one day when we're not at work we can do like a watercolor zoom like hangout and we can like we can make them together.

That would be fun. I was gonna organize something like that for you know like fun flair but I don't know my motivation has been low during this pandemic so it sounds like you're staying pretty like you know full steam ahead.

How do you know when?

Oh no there goes the Internet.

I lost her again. Oh no why? Oh wait now you're back now you're back.

Sorry I know I know. How do you know when to start and end your day?

I apologize again to my watcher that I'm having weird Internet instability even though it should be working.

Okay so how do you know like like that's one of the things finding the right balance of like work and not work like especially with you being in a different time zone and a lot of the people you're working with you know being in the pacific time zone.

How do you know when to start and end your day? Yeah that's a great question and something I'm definitely still struggling with like almost a year into this or I guess a full year now of at least being remote.

I think personally actually I love being on the east coast because it gives me a little bit more space in my mornings and a little bit of overlap with the folks that I work with in our London offices.

So people in San Francisco often have to wake up like super early to be able to make meetings.

I have like three hours more that that I can you know given my schedule as flexibility for that and there's a little bit of time in the morning when I can usually have a cup of coffee like take it a little bit slower before people in San Francisco you know wake up and start their days and have questions and things that need to be answered.

So that's helpful but I think the other thing that's been useful for me because there definitely is stuff that comes in overnight from from the APAC region and EMEA that's there waiting for me when I wake up in the morning is putting in routines in my day that kind of like force me to do things other than work.

Like I'm a very routine focused person if there's something that's like waiting for me to do it that's easier for me to build in as a habit.

So like taking care of plants in the morning if I know that they're going to die if I don't water them like having that built in as a function in the day.

We got a cat recently so like he is very hungry immediately in the morning and then wants attention after that.

So that's also nice it's just a forcing function to do something other than work.

And then kind of the same things around the end of the day like you know knowing if I want to go for a run got to do that before it gets super dark out like literally making that environment kind of prompt me to do to do stuff that helps kind of set those boundaries.

And your is your partner that you're living with also working from home?

Yes yeah so he's actually starting a company they're downstairs in the kind of like this one thing that's kind of nice is we have a shared space but there's doors you know mostly between where we are so that's that's helpful from a like they hear me talking all day because I'm on meetings.

But it's the them and and the the three co -founders and so they're like all working kind of in the same little zone in our little pod.

And that's cool because there's there's people that are doing hard work every day that are motivated and I think it's nice for for all of us that we kind of motivate each other by showing up and being in the same space.

Yeah I think I'm I'm slightly envious of people that have you know other people around but then I also really you know you have to kind of be in the right like situation like if I was working from home in some of my previous like living situations like before you know like like it would have been kind of a bummer but like living alone at least like I have the space but I don't have that separation of like workspace you know I don't know it's it's um but we we I'm going into the office a bit um because we're doing stuff in the office so I find that motivates me a little bit more like just to I'm a little bit happier actually on the days that I drive in and you know have more action in my life because I I know that I have a tendency to be a little sedentary um you know and this pandemic really gives you like a chance to deep dive into that.

Exactly it's like my couch and I really have you know created a special warm connection um.

I saw a tweet the other day that was like every woman working from home during the pandemic is glass of tea like macbook air sitting on the couch and every man working from home in the pandemic is like three monitors set up six keyboards like beautiful desk situation.

I was like I'm in I'm in this suite and I don't like it like I'm I'm the green tea couch person too often.

I mean I think I know a lot of ladies that work at Cloudflare that have a double monitor setup so you know just you know I want to like just push back against that tweets like you know during Women's Empowerment Month here you know and say that I think we have a lot of engineering um manager types and ladies that probably have a have a better setup than that but yeah it's I I'm sure I can see like I can see that the vision of what that meme would look like you know.

Yeah I actually I actually do have my like loud keyboard and monitor setup down here too so definitely not uh not uh completely generalizing but I do like my couch tea setup.

I'm a full laptop couch girl. I have actually bought a laptop like um desk for the couch um that's kind of like my friend calls it the bed sled and I got it on Amazon and it's pretty great it has adjustable height and it it's like it is like a sled version on the bottom um so that brings me back to Minnesota.

Um you know we think about sometimes like can we take this on the hills you know but that would destroy my hundred dollar desk thing pretty quickly.

Um it's fun you can kind of tilt it but um I I was like fully pillows you know I would just put my laptop like on pillows and I know that's not good for your laptops um it gets kind of hot um or for your ergonomics um so you've been at Cloudflare for about a year then right?

You started right after you were going to postpone um and yeah I started in May and now it's March so I got like two months and then you know aside from the work you're doing on the product side you are one of our green cloud leads is that correct?

Yes yeah. Okay so how's that going like how is Cloudflare doing on our journey towards becoming a more sustainable business do you think right now?

Yeah I'm I'm really excited about the progress that's happened.

I think uh green cloud was starting up the sort of like germ of the idea and the first couple of people that founded it um were around during my internship in summer 2019 and I was super super grateful to be able to kind of be kept in the loop when I went back to school as it was making progress um and I'm really excited we have a lot of really a lot of good stuff in store both within a green cloud which is kind of our employee-led and driven initiative and is really focused around like education resources what kind of actions can we take you know personally as employees of Cloudflare but also to be able to hold the greater organization accountable but then also I'm super psyched about the things that we're doing on kind of a company and organization level and I don't want to share too much about that because there's news coming out about it soon but stay tuned if you're interested in learning about what Cloudflare is doing to become a more sustainable company because there's a lot coming up soon.

Yeah there's so many challenges um you know on that level but I'm so glad we have dedicated people that are interested in you know in making progress in those areas I think employee education is you know really crucial obviously when we're not in the office it's not so much of a thing but it's like I mean just like explaining like hey if we're gonna recycle this plastic you just you just gotta rinse it out you know like you just you know it's not gonna turn into anything new unless you know we kind of rinse it out for us and it's kind of interesting because it's like disposable disposable dishes as it were kind of it's like the convenience is that you don't have to wash it but then the thing is actually you do you know it's like yeah yeah I've been thinking a lot about that with respect to the pandemic like the what's the impact on sustainability and on one hand it's incredible that so many fewer people are commuting every day like that the the carbon emission savings from that is unbelievable awesome um my my dad like for example works at Georgia Tech my parents live 20 or 30 minutes outside of the city that's in no traffic in like morning rush hour it's an hour and a half that he's sitting in the car every day with everybody else that's in traffic with him and none of those people have to do that now or way way fewer of them which is amazing on the other hand lots more like disposable plastic right like people getting takeout and every time it's like oh here's another fork that I didn't need like this is it's uh it's a struggle I think because obviously it's really important for for organizations to be taking those extra measures to make sure that everything is super safe and sanitary but I am a little afraid of the kind of like swinging back towards single-use plastic in our culture yeah I mean one of the things I'd like to point out is also with the um the lack of sport ball events we've saved a lot from like stadiums and concerts you know because that's a huge garbage generator like I think about it sometimes I think about the whales think about the turtles you know the oceans and the birds and stuff like that and I think about plastic like a lot like in my dream I could go back and be born into a timeline where single-use plastic was just never invented invented you know like sometimes when I'm in this body on this planet I feel like there was a bait and switch like you know like it was like in the 70s that I was born and I feel like I was like looking down you know from the heavens and whatnot and the angels were trying to convince me to be born on the planet and I was like yeah it looks kind of good they're doing a lot of psychedelic research you know the war just ended you know what I mean it felt like it was like you know like it was a good time to jump into the earth and then it was suddenly like Reagan and like plastic and I just I feel like there was a bit of a bait and switch so I'm having an ongoing conversation you know I mean with the angels right now and I'm just like can we just like go back in time and like take away this is not what I was promised I know there's a bait and switch I saw the cat I saw the cat anyway I feel like my favorite day of the pandemic was when the oil price dropped to zero that was you know because like with the commuting I mean I've always looked at that and been like why why why why is that a thing like why is it all happening at the same time you know why are like the commute from the suburbs like into the city so I'm I'm definitely like looking for that bright side of like how you know how are we going to move forward once we kind of get you know the vaccines rolled out and I mean I was personally grateful uh you know January 20th when uh when had a shift in you know executive leadership on you know on the American soil um I have a question if you could go back in time one year and and you know pre-pandemic and tell you know one year ago Annika anything about like what to expect for the coming year like what advice would you give yourself from one year ago oh that's such a good question um honestly I don't know that that's hard I feel like um I think I would tell myself to I think I would give myself a heads up that we're in this for a longer time period than I thought we were going to be I think like for very many months at the very beginning of the pandemic it was like oh like it's only gonna be another month it's only gonna be another two weeks whatever and so I was existing in this very very temporary state for a long time and I think only very recently have I like wrapped my brain around the fact that like this is a place that I'm gonna live for at least you know through through the end of this year maybe longer and it's not like a good thing for myself or my mental health or my life to continue treating it like it's a very temporary thing because you can only live in like a very temporary situation for so long and so I think I would tell myself to like invest in stuff that makes it easier for me to like live my life and be happy and have good sustainable routines and um and and uh just like get comfortable with that earlier because I think it was very hard like I was very much like I'm just gonna move to San Francisco tomorrow okay like in a week okay like in a month and like it's still like we don't know when any of us are gonna be back in the offices so just like a little bit more heads up that it's a longer term thing and that that's okay like I really love the place that I live now I feel really privileged to have this space and I think I wish I'd leaned into it earlier that makes sense that's a good that's a good one yeah I think I think that kind of knowing that this is going to be going on for longer than we than we thought you know I remember when I was like getting when I was donating the office snacks because you know in San Francisco we just like suddenly left the office and there was so much soy milk and cereal and cheese and yogurt and you know so many things and I remember I was like okay well you know and I would go in and I would grab the food I was like okay well this stuff is going to expire you know what I mean by June and we're not back in the office till July and so I would take that and I would I would mostly donate it to glide which is a resource in San Francisco um that really is does a lot of good community outreach and I would show up with my car and then I showed up once and they weren't taking the soy milk and so I was literally on the streets of the tenderloin like handing out half gallons of soy milk and almond milk to like the people that were just you know who are living on on the street with their tents because you know the thing in San Francisco is like the less that the the streets were busy with people the more that um you know people started taking over the neighborhoods with you know like a lot of uh temporary housing situations um and solutions and so yeah I was I was out there you know just handing out like gallons of half gallons of almond milk to people and because I just didn't want it to be wasted you know it's like we were prepared to keep feeding 500 people snacks and suddenly I was like no you know um yeah it's been an interesting thing how's your family handling all the pandemic like is everyone safe and healthy and do you have a big family pretty small uh it's it's me and my mom and dad and brother and sister uh my little sister just started school I guess in the fall that was a tough thing for her like we were both going through our sort of senior year experiences together me at college and her in high school and she had planned to go to a school out of state and then realized like oh this is happening and maybe it doesn't make sense for me to like spend the extra money on an out-of-state education if I know that it's going to be online same thing as if I stayed in state and so she ended up going to Georgia Tech and she loves it has like totally leaned into it it's you know gonna stay there which is amazing I'm super happy for her um and then my my brother's chillin too he's he's doing great he's a job that he really likes right now and my parents are good I think everyone's like getting antsy like everyone in the whole world is just like we want to like go outside and do stuff and see people and like tired of being in the same place all the time which can be a little challenging but one of the the blessings kind of being back here is that I've been able to be closer to my family and and see them you know sometimes in socially distant COVID safe ways uh which I didn't honestly get to do a lot in college because I went to school in New York so being closer to them has been has been really nice and I think that's made it a little bit happier for all of us well me at least maybe maybe not then they have to deal with me you know I'm sure they're grateful to have you around you know I think that's one thing that I've seen you know I mean some families have been having you know more friction you know just from everybody like being together but also I think more families are getting more time together and you know there's been a bit of a value shift even you know like it's like well what's really important you know um you know it's like okay well we can't go distract ourselves with the bar and the sport ball and like all of our normal distractionary like habits you know really kind of got like removed and then it's just suddenly like okay what's essential you know what are what do we value how do we show those values and um it's been a it's been an interesting uh process um to to watch unfold I know for me living alone it's been uh I would probably tell myself made a move try to move a little earlier I moved out of the city um and I would tell myself that you have to get outside more yeah I spent many days just kind of inside and the more that I was inside the less I wanted to like engage with other humans and I was like this can't be like a healthy trend you know totally totally it's hard I mean if you don't get sunlight like just physiologically like that just makes you want to shut down and like hibernate and like continue like going into yourself and your like little space which is a spiral it can it definitely can be um I've been grateful you know to have like this structure of a job like I I used to have multi hustles you know like selling jewelry and doing you know as a body worker and you know kind of traveling style and I was really glad that um when this all happened I had this framework of a of like a real job you know to uh like because I I can't imagine like going through this I'd probably be in my mom's basement or something yeah if there's anything wrong with being there but I really like living in the Bay Area and I don't want to go to the cold winter um so what's what are you the most optimistic for like in the coming has like the the pandemic shine any light on any things that you're optimistic for moving forward oh yeah I think um so we touched on the sustainability aspect already I'm I'm excited about that I'm excited about um people continuing to embrace uh like living places that they might not have considered before like with more people having more flexibility to work outside of like very you know specific cities I think that's really encouraging um personally just like I I really love Atlanta and I'm excited about people moving to Atlanta um there's like a New York Times article a little while ago about specifically folks that have left the Bay Area for Atlanta and I felt like very targeted by that but they're like wow this is actually like an amazing city and and um you know if you didn't have the opportunity to give it a chance before um and and now you do I think that's awesome I think also uh the the research on especially since it's women's empowered month empowerment month the research on what the pandemic has done for gender equality is really interesting I think there's like mixed results right now about like the role that women in households especially that take care of children have been taking on additional emotional labor or the same work that they've already been doing in addition to their jobs which are now harder because they have to like manage both in the same place um but I've also read a lot of stuff about people um whose partners have realized like the amount of work that actually goes in that they don't normally see because they're not paying as much attention because they're in a different space the distribution of work at home yeah so I'm optimistic about that I hope that that trend continues like in that direction and uh and not just the the the majority of kind of like emotional uh work and and stuff like that at home continues to be on women but I don't have kids so not much of that to share from my personal experience no that's a good point though I mean I'm sure that it's been eye-opening for um you know people's relationships um you know to be like wow okay and and but god all the extra strain I have so much compassion and empathy for like any parents that are watching this that have had to like do you know teach their kids like how to use zoom and like supervise that they're doing their homework and like make sure that the kids are all good at home like while you're also like doing your job and you know it's like I mean we've definitely outsourced as a culture child care to the school industry you know and so this is a wake-up call to that too to be like okay well oh my god all teachers should get paid a million more sure sure they should definitely get paid more my dad was a teacher and uh he made nothing and it's like wow like that's the children like I mean even Whitney Houston's job and also our future and the children are our future you know teach them well you know show them all the beauty they possess inside you know like how are you gonna do that if you're not well paid and like and then also the poor kids that don't have the resources to have laptops and computers and stuff like that so it's been I think it's also shined a light on some of that disparity and and you know like economically and it'd be really good hopefully now we have a you know an administration that's more interested in um you know bridging those gaps and um we only have about 35 seconds left so um I just want to say thank you so much I really enjoy working with you on the sustainability projects and I'm glad that I remember you actually from 2019 when you started out um when you were interning I'm like I was at some green green cloud meeting um with you so I'm so glad we have you on the team and uh yeah thank you so much for joining awesome thank you for having me this is a really fun conversation I'm gonna ping you and we're gonna make a watercolor one of these nights yes please I'm so down awesome have a great day bye Annika thanks everyone thanks for watching we'll see you next week