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: Kalpana Ravinarayanan
Good morning slash afternoon slash evening, whenever you might be watching this.
I'm Amy Bibeau, and welcome to Home Office TV. And today we are very fortunate to have Kalpana Ravinarayanan.
Your name's very small, so I'm going to let you pronounce it.
I can see it's small-y, but it is Kalpana Ravinarayanan. Okay, welcome.
Thank you for being on my show. My first question is, how are you doing? How's it going?
I think all said and done, it's going well. I think we've adjusted to the new normal.
Overall, it's okay.
There are ups and downs and there are challenges, but we've managed to find the good in it as a family, I think.
So I would say it's going okay.
All right. And you just had a segment yesterday, but for those people who didn't watch it, so we're celebrating BI week, and it's also Women's Empowerment Month.
So we're always doing different weeks and highlighting different things. So do you want to tell us a little bit about your role at Cloudflare?
Yeah. So I work in the business intelligence team or the data and analytics team, call us what you want.
So basically, we manage the big data warehouse for Cloudflare, and then our job is to provide good insights back to the people at the rest of Cloudflare to help do their jobs better.
Yesterday, my conversation was with Emily, and she's on our privacy team.
And because we deal with so much data, we take privacy and security very, very seriously.
So that was important for us to have a conversation about that during BI takeover or BI week or whatever that was.
So I've worn a lot of hats.
So I started my career as a software engineer in distributed systems. I spent time in product management.
I ran my own company for a couple of years. I did a lot of advisory work, and now I'm doing data at Cloudflare, so a bunch of different things.
Wow. Well, we're lucky to have you for sure. So you're a mom and a manager of people, right?
So you're managing kids at home. You're how are you juggling all that?
And also, how did COVID impact? You have three children?
I have two. I have two kids, yeah. So two boys.
I actually think we lucked out because our boys are a little bit on the older side.
My younger one just turned 12 this month, and then my older one's 13. So moving to online school was not that much of a challenge for them.
They were old enough to be able to sit still and handle it.
And do their own things on the computer.
You didn't have to supervise. Yeah. So at least they were. I think it is super challenging for parents with littler kids.
This would have been exhausting for me if I had a five-year-old, for example.
And people that both parents work, and their kid goes to preschool or even elementary school, I think it's not easy.
So I think that we were out of that bucket.
I was actually thinking my kids went to this hands-on experiential parent participation elementary school, right?
Both of them.
It was complete opposite of sitting in front of your computer all day. Yeah, totally.
Yeah. So I think younger kids, I think, are a huge challenge. But my kids are doing okay.
They're a bit bored sitting in front of the computer, but at least they're getting their work done and things like that.
Are you getting bored sitting in front of your computer?
How is it going for your level of Zoom fatigue?
I would imagine you're on the screens a fairly high level amount. Yeah, a lot, actually.
And I think it's exhausting. I think the biggest thing is it's so mentally draining.
Small things, right? We have this, Amy, you know about our weekly company-wide meetings that we have.
Right, the peer meeting, yeah. The peer meeting.
And the nice thing about that meeting is, yeah, it is a company meeting, but, you know, we would grab a coffee or something and then, you know, walk down to the, like, big hall and we would all listen to people.
There was something just so, I don't know, refreshing about, like, just taking that walk and going to this meeting.
And, you know, there's the pre-meeting where you chat with, you know, some random person you meet, and then you listen to the conversation and you walk back.
Now everything is online, right? That meeting is online.
Every other meeting is online. My not meeting work is online. So it's exhausting.
I think it's mentally super draining. I actually was thinking, you know, it doesn't affect me so much.
And generally, I'm an introvert, so that doesn't affect me that much, but it is exhausting.
I'm way more exhausted mentally end of the day these days than, not so much physically, right, but mentally way more exhausting just staring at the screen all day.
Yeah, I think, and as you point to that, those, like, organic conversations that we would have, you know, it's, like, refreshing.
It's an introvert being around a lot of people, you know, it can be draining, but sometimes it can be energizing to just be like, oh, we're all here.
We're all, like, focused together in the same space, you know, on the same person talking and just giving that attention and, like, being as a group.
And I don't know, I really miss those in the office. Like, hey, how's it going?
Like, yeah, I mean, small things, right? Like, I'm vegan. And like, you know, when I was walking at one of our, like, whatever, birthday celebrations or something, you know, I was, you know, I would meet other vegans.
Some ridiculous thing like that.
No, you feel connected. It's not ridiculous, because it's your community.
It's like, you get to organically get to know, because otherwise, I mean, sure, we have a vegetarian, vegan, you know, chat group.
It's not super active, you know, but, like, otherwise, how are you going to meet the other vegans?
Unless it's, like, next to that one small pie, you know, or, like, you know what I mean?
The 12. We try to do pretty well to, you know, have cupcakes and pies and everything for everyone.
But yeah, it's those organic discussions. Yeah, I mean, it just goes to say, right, the serendipity, like exposes you to people unexpectedly, right?
You, you, there is no and now I just meet people who I need to get something done with.
And that's a very small fraction of the casual encounters we have when we actually go to a workspace.
So I think, I think that's a loss.
I still think though, I don't miss my commute, but but I think that's, that's a real loss.
Yeah, we were chatting about that. So your you used to have a fairly intensive commute to the office.
And so some people use that as their me time. How do you get your me time now?
Yeah, it used to be, you know, the commute, I had a three hour commute to and fro, right?
90 minutes. Yeah. But sometimes, you know, it felt good.
Sometimes because I could read a book, I read a bunch of books that I, I used to read a lot when I was a kid, and I was in college and growing up, right, I used to be with a book all the time.
Not so much the last few years, I think I, it was too busy.
But then in the commute, I found that time to read things again. And then I found the time quite time to finish up things so that I was all done with all my emails before I got home.
Right? There was just that thing. So that was a little bit of me time.
Now. Yeah, it's, it's not so much but I don't miss it. I think net net.
The three hour commute while it did give me the me time. It's not a it's not a solid trade off.
You're not like, No, I want it. I want it back. You know? Yeah, I'm gonna say I want that back.
So when you look towards the future of what your in the office life is going to be like, now that we know how good you know, or like how well people were able to adapt, you know, to this kind of working from home situation.
Do you see that commute happening less for you even once we're back in the office?
Yeah, I hope so. Yeah, I think it I would still like to go to work sometimes, right.
But, you know, maybe it would be divided the week, I can have a few days from home.
And a few days at the office, couple of days at the office, three days at home, some kind of balance like that.
So yeah, I do see, see it going down a lot.
And I think it's a global mindset change to I think some companies were not very comfortable with remote work still, but I think the this has changed that, at least in the tech space, like significantly.
But so to be fair, like there were always tech companies that had worked from home, but there were.
But now it's been like, okay, you go when you need to, I think that's going to be the new norm.
Right, rather than this very kind of like rigid, where we work is at the office all together every day.
I've always been suspicious of commuting.
I'm kind of new to like having a real job. I was self employed. I mean, it was like a job, but I was self employed for like many years before working for like a corporation.
So like, while Cloudflare, you know, is growing up, you know, I'm also like growing up into having like a real job, you know, and before having a job, I would look at the commuting and just a lot of head shaking and being like, why?
Why is it like this? You know, so I'm glad there's disruption, you know, in the space of commuting.
Yeah, I think and I think it also frees people a lot.
I think the kind of forced commute like artificially raises prices, home prices, like, you know, now people can, you know, take a deep breath, live a little bit far away and not stress about having to do that, like, every day, every day, right?
I think it gives people breathing room. But then again, it's not for everybody, right?
We can say that we are in the tech sector, I keep telling myself, right, a bunch of perks are okay, because we are in the tech sector, and that it works for us, but it doesn't work for the healthcare worker.
You know, they have the same challenges that Yes, some work is not cut out for remote, but I, you know, I think like, it's given us the chance to be creative again, as a species, it's like, well, maybe when we come back, and there's more commuting, you know, we're shifting up the time blocks.
It's like, why is everybody, you know, just going during these rush hours.
And so it's, it's like, I like that aspect of the pandemic, that it's forced people's creative, you know, problem solving to kick in.
Yeah, I think, I think it really open, it was not a gradual thing, right? It was like a switch was turned off.
So I think it let people know that, yeah, we can do things drastically different and survive.
I think, as a, as a word, we kind of came to that realization that we can, you know, take something that we think cannot be changed at all, and like, flip the switch, and it still works, sort of.
So I think that's a big learning. And, you know, keeping sane, actually, sometimes it helps to think like, you know, we have, we have learned, we've grown a lot, because of the pandemic, all of us, right, we've had to deal with a lot of unexpected things.
And I think that's, that's a good learning. Absolutely.
And, you know, for your actual home office setup, like, what are you working with?
Do you have, is it ergonomic? Like, because sometimes, sometimes part of that fatigue, you know what I mean, that you could be facing, you know, could not just be from the screen, but it's like, we don't have the same kind of fancy standup, adjustable desks, and you know, not everybody has all the equipment at home.
So like, have you made sure that you have a good, like platform for doing your work at home?
So the space is a challenge. Working space is a challenge.
You know, at work, you know, when you have a meeting, you go to a meeting room, right, and then you can have quiet work at your desk or whatever.
There is no such thing here, you have a spot in the corner of the house, because everybody needs to be in school.
And you can't really fit like fancy standup, like I used to have a standup desk at work, I can't, the corner, I sometimes sit in the garage, I sometimes sit in like some corner of the house, like, you know, we can't just get like so many standup desks in so many situations.
So it's makeshift. Try to be aware of posture and try to be active.
But I think yeah, space is suboptimal. We are working on it every day.
It's a work in progress. That's all I can say. Do you have a monitor?
Um, no, not right now. But at home, you do? Well, we have a monitor. So the thing is, we didn't want to get like three monitors or four you know, with Oh, this is temporary.
We'll just all work out of our laptops. I never had a monitor at work.
Because I was in and out of meetings all the time. Like I figured, like I was not, I didn't have a monitor at home, though, for when I was working from home, but then my husband and I would take turns using the monitor.
But now we just have that one monitor.
We haven't really invested in another one. So no, we don't have a monitor.
I think, frankly, we need to pay more attention to our work setup than we have.
Well, you know, that's one of the reasons, you know, like I have my show Home Office TV is like to kind of discuss with people like, you know, inside Cloudflare, especially in case people are watching to let them know, like, hey, we have a work from home wiki where we can help make sure that people are supported, you know, so it's like, hey, you probably left your wrist rest, you probably left your lap stand, you probably left your keyboard.
I know you probably left it because we've already cleared off all your desks.
And we found a lot of those, you know, so it's like we still have all that.
So, you know, if anybody who's watching this at Cloudflare, like needs help with their work from home setup, please reach out to your local office team, check out the work from home wiki, and I'll give you all the steps because we can definitely hook you up with a monitor once you're back in the Bay Area.
So I just I want the people to be comfortable working because it's like, wow, how many hours are we all, you know, doing it on the screens?
Yeah, yeah, I think that's, I think we spend a lot more time kind of figuring out a better working situation for our kids than we did for ourselves.
I think, you know, made sure that they all had a desk and they had space around the right things and things like that.
That's the classic mom, you know, move, right? It's, I mean, I'm not a mom.
I always had dreams of making my own little progeny. And I never got there.
But like, as a mom, it's like, you're sacrificing all the time, like you're feeding the kids, you know, making sure they get a fresh meal and, you know, grabbing a couple bites, you know, while you're feeding the kid, you know, so sometimes it's like the, the care for the parents, you know, it gets funneled so much in the kids.
It's like, don't forget to take care of yourself, moms and dads. Yeah, a little bit of that, I think, but we are adults, right?
We should be able to handle that.
I don't know, are we adults? I mean, we grow up, I mean, you, you're very adults.
You know, I'm not sure, you know, I think, I think when you never have your own kid, like, you know, maybe I'm in some kind of suspended, you know, animation where like, I'm an adult shaped, you know, like, I'm not sure I sometimes I look at my emotional maturity level, and I was like, was that very adult, you know, so I'm still working on it.
So I say always have the same amount of compassion for yourself, you know, as you would for anyone else you're taking care of, you know, being an adult or not, it's like, we all still have basic needs.
And you deserve to be, you know, taking care of just as much of yourself, you know, just so yeah, and it's a good one.
I think I think it's one that people have to hear. Well, I'm always here to celebrate the small wins.
You know, for my like, my mental health has been kind of a challenge through this pandemic as an extrovert who normally gets my energy from others.
So I'm trying to celebrate when I do like very small things like I get my walks in regularly, you know, because it's like, I think it can be hard to have the motivation, like to, to care about stuff when this thing just keeps dragging on.
Yeah, I actually think the show of yours is pretty awesome.
Maybe like, what a creative way to get like some people time in this in this pandemic period, right?
And, you know, it's amazing. I'm always amazed by the people who run like regular shows on CloudFly TV, because like, this is something you're passionate about.
And you're taking time to do it. Like, it's like almost like a hobby now for some of the folks.
Yeah, it's, it's fun. I do like to be creative.
And for me, a lot of times I have ideas, I can be an idea person. But the ideas just remain, you know, kind of like swimming around in my head.
But we got so many emails last like June that were like, hey, we want content like, like, hey, we want people to step up.
And I had this idea, it kind of came off the concept of home and garden TV, like HGTV.
I was like, Oh, home office TV, like people about like, how they're doing with their home office setup.
And so I all I did was send an email.
So that's another shout out to anyone who's watching who's like, Hey, I want to have a Cloudflare TV segment.
You know, for me, it was like this little idea.
And I couldn't just let it sit there and been like, nah. But I was like, you know what, it's as I was saying, and I say this every week, it's like the half hour where I feel like I have a new friend, or maybe I get to see one of my old friends, because I was at the front desk at in San Francisco, we saw, you know, unless you came in the back door, or 111, or something, I would see everybody come in every morning, I made you your temporary badges, we made sure you had snacks, and I made you flower arrangements.
And I was excited to do it. And now, you know, I gotta find my way to see my people.
Yeah, I know. I mean, this loss of serendipity is like, is sad, like, you know, the casual coffee chats and like the people you bump into.
I think that's a real loss right now. I think so. And I think, again, once we come back to that, maybe people will find new ways to value that more highly, or like, how can we jump off from that into, you know, like, maybe people will be like, find some closer friendships, even, how are you staying connected with your friends during this pandemic?
The same thing, like the zoom calls, and the phone calls and the chats, I guess, you know, we have a mom's group called the moms of the apocalypse.
And so people share things on that group.
So I actually, I've never had a social media account, like, all my life.
So I used to do it the old fashioned way before, and it kind of just stuck in the pandemic.
Nice. I mean, social media has been an interesting thing for the pandemic.
Like, what would I have been doing without memes?
Like, I've been having fun with like memes and social media. Like, it's brought some, some joy into my life, for sure.
So do you have like a bucket list? Like, where's the first place you're gonna go?
Like, once travel kind of opens up again?
Like, do you have any fun plans on the horizon? Um, actually, I feel like the pandemic, we made a little bit of lemonade during the pandemic, we got we got, when the stay at home order came in, we were actually that weekend in Tahoe.
So we just said, Oh, it'll be just for a week or two, we'll just extend our stay here.
And that turned out to be two months.
So we just stayed there. And then we kind of, like, felt like this is pretty cool.
Like I'm working, it felt less like work when you're working out of not your home, I guess.
For sure, especially at first. Yeah.
And so we kind of this winter, we we kind of recreated that. So we're spending a few weeks now in Colorado.
So I think it has evolved, like, the travel and vacation was this compressed, like one week, two week activity.
And now it has broadened our perspective that it can be something more.
So I have a feeling we'll actually be a little bit sad when things go back to normal, and kids have to go to like physical school, which I think is good for them, really.
But, you know how we are not going to have this luxury of, you know, spending a few weeks someplace that you fancy.
If you can afford to, and just work and like experience that area, I think we've discovered a brand new way of traveling, I guess, where you don't need a vacation from your vacation.
Yeah, I like that. I mean, I I've been enjoying the flexibility as much as I miss, you know, being in the office around people.
It's been nice to I spent some time, you know, in Minnesota, and I could still kind of check on, you know, what was going here.
Speaking of making lemonade, because we're talking about optimism.
I sent you some preview questions. And you had mentioned that you guys, your families kind of revamped, you know, you recognize you had a lot of assets and that you were doing well in the pandemic.
And so you created a different like giving plan with your family.
Yeah, I mean, we have we would give like, every year normally, right, but it was the usual thing, like donate to the school, like give to like Salvation Army, like during, you know, give to some of our, you know, favorite nonprofits.
And then during like Christmas time, like just, you know, make sure that we support like all the Second Harvest and all the food banks and things like that.
That was our usual thing. I think what the pandemic kind of made us realize is, you know, for all like, we are all touched by the pandemic, right?
And all of us have loved ones that went through a hard time. My father-in-law passed away during the pandemic.
So it's not that, but we are fortunate in other ways, right?
We have jobs, we are able to do things from home. Our kids are still able to go to school, we have shelter, and I feel like the pandemic kind of was not so kind to a lot of others, right?
Like, some folks just lost their job and, you know, they have had to make ends meet and things like that.
So I felt like we took some time to make our giving plan a lot more deliberate.
So now, so that we are helping more than like, you know, instead of saying, yeah, we also give to charity, we want to be thoughtful about what are we supporting?
Why are we supporting? And I think, I hope that it made us realize that, yeah.
Like a chance to clarify your values and like, really get more strongly aligned.
I think this pandemic has been a time of clarification in general of people's values because you're like, okay, well, I can't go to the sport ball stadium anymore.
I can't do a lot of these other things that I used to do. Like, what can I still do?
What's the most important thing? Obviously, it's our families, you know, and our communities, you know, and so it's like, you're clarifying those values.
So gave you a chance to kind of focus and be like, okay, this is exactly how we want to, you know, share our assets or share our resources with others.
That's awesome. Yeah, I think, yeah, I think we felt like there was something we needed to do.
So I think that was kind of cool.
Very nice. I'm sorry about your loss of your father -in-law.
Loss, you know, in the family, like again, and my heart goes out to anyone who's watching this, who's, you know, losing people, be it the pandemic or, you know, any other way that, you know, our loved ones are escaping this planet.
And I have a lot of compassion. I'm about on the four-year anniversary of losing my dad next week.
And, you know, it just, it just always makes me sad, even, you know, so empathy, again, as one of our values, you know, at Cloudflare.
I think loss is always hard. I think it was, it's particularly hard this last year because the normal things that you do to grieve are just much harder, right?
Like just, just going and being with family.
Yeah. Is much harder. So I think it's a harder transition in the pandemic, but I feel like everyone is touched by it.
Like everybody has a story.
Yeah. And, and maybe again, that kind of brings us together as a human culture.
Cause like, as a world, we're all really moving through this kind of same thing together, you know, globally.
I feel like it's brought out both, right?
Like it's brought out the best in a lot of us and has helped us share the commonality, but it's also been the year I've been in the U S 21.
20, 23 years now. And I've heard more like, you know, racist comments the last year that I've heard in all of my 21 years or 22 years before that.
So I think it's, it's brought out extremes, but at the same time, you know, so many people reaching out, trying to do the right thing, helping it's been such a, I feel it's been a, it's been a year, but both extremes have been visible.
Yeah. It's like shining a light, you know, it's like, okay.
And, and, you know, there's been a lot of division, you know, in, in a few different spheres that we don't really, we all know what they are.
So, yeah, I'm sorry that there's been more of that, but it's like, we're also forced to look and be like, Hey, we can't ignore this part of the culture and how can we heal and move forward?
You know, we only have 30 seconds left.
So yeah, healing and moving forward. And yeah, you know, women's empowerment month is now.
And so we have a thing it's choose to challenge. So we're engaging everyone to how are you challenging yourself?
20 seconds. Whoa. I did not expect that.
Oh wait, it's too fast. No, I think the big challenge is to find the positive.
I think finding the positive, I think that's, that's it. Like whatever it is, that is a lemonade to be made.
And let's figure out what that is. If it's hard in school, like help our kids roll with the punches, right?
That's the education this year.
Thank you for having me and me. It was a pleasure talking to you.
It was really nice to see you. Have a wonderful day. You too. Bye-bye. Bye.