Mom boss: Capital One moms share their work from home stories
Being a working mother is never easy. The balance between work and home is fraught with the worry of failing on both fronts. But add in a global pandemic, stay at home orders across the country and no child care and you have a recipe for increased stress and impossible standards. Listening to the working moms across Capital One, it’s apparent that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to working from home with kids. Each circumstance and family is different and during times of crisis, your team and leadership matter more than ever. Here’s how the incredibly strong and resilient moms of Capital One are making it work, in their own words.
Working from home as a Software Engineer with two kids under 6
When I discovered that I was expecting my first child six years ago, I was a mix of thrilled and terrified. I’d just joined Capital One a week before I got the news and I was so worried about how it would be perceived that it took me 3 weeks to inform my manager! I would soon discover that it was a high-risk pregnancy, unfortunately. I had to be on bed rest from 20 to 36 weeks and eventually asked to work from home around the 6 month mark.
My leadership team was very supportive of being flexible by working from home and making sure that I was taking care of myself during my pregnancy. In fact, I had a skip level with my Vice President and he assured me that Capital One and his leadership team were supportive. He let me know how he believed that every family is important—and that we all have families that need our time and attention. I was extremely thankful to my manager and Capital One leadership... if I had not received that support, I would probably have had to take a break or end my career, which could have put my immigration status in jeopardy. For my second pregnancy, I also had to work from home for 6 months. I was able to take advantage of the 18 weeks maternity leave which helped me welcome the newest member of my family.
Strangely enough, I've found that becoming pregnant actually helped me focus in ways that I couldn't before. Don't get me wrong—I'm not suggesting everyone go out and get pregnant to become a better manager, but I do think there are some lessons to be learned from entering a situation that, once begun, is somewhat out of your control... much like the current Covid situation.
Here are 5 lessons I learned during my work from home experience while pregnant that helped me become a better manager:
- Be Bold: Every problem will have a solution, but don’t take the easy way out. Make sure to communicate from your heart.
- Be Autonomous and Take Responsibility: While working from home, you’ll need to be able to make your own decisions. Own those decisions and be prepared to explain your thought process with others.
- Make the Right Decisions at the Right Time: Easy to say, harder to do, but goes back to the above. Know when to make a decision and when to bring others into your decision-making process.
- Know How to Delegate and Trust Others: As a people leader, this is especially important. To move work forward quickly, it’s important to empower those who work for you to make decisions and trust that they are the right ones.
- Be Empathetic and Vulnerable: This is difficult, but so important. Modeling this for my team and seeing it modeled by leadership makes all our work easier to accomplish and leads to better outcomes for our associates and customers.
Now, I have a 21 month old and 6 year old. Working from home with younger kids is always challenging, but planning ahead helps a lot. Our leadership has encouraged us to take breaks as we work and even to take a half day off every week, which has been very helpful. I’ve also blocked my calendar for lunch so we enjoy a family lunch together. The flexibility and support I’ve received from my first pregnancy, throughout my second, and now as I balance working from home with two kids during a global pandemic has been incredible.
-Lakshmi P., Software Engineering Manager, Risk Tech
Scheduling meetings around nap times
I have a 4 year old and an 11 month old, both of whom never stop moving. It's been pretty overwhelming trying to juggle parenting full-time and working from home full time. My husband is also very busy at work, so we have to schedule each day by the timing of our meetings. I was very nervous when this first started that this would just completely be impossible. But my team has literally brought me to tears with their support. I've had to ask almost everyone I work with to reschedule meetings during nap times, or for extensions on deadlines and have only been met with extreme understanding. I think this whole experience has not only made me realize how lucky I am to work for such a supportive company, but have turned my coworkers into family. Daily check-ins and words of encouragement, as well as scheduled coffee Zoom-meetings and parenting advice has been invaluable and I can't imagine going through something like this without them.
-Kim C., Brand
Letting go of perfectionism and focusing on family
I have had a difficult time the past month as the mom of a very busy one year old. When the organization moved to work from home, I was in my last week of parental leave. I had saved two of my eight weeks of parental leave for this spring, for a family trip that never happened. This means it has been a looong time since my son has been at daycare. I have loved the extra time with my family and continue to remind myself how lucky I am to get this time—I might even get to see his first steps during this quarantine business. It hasn't come without new challenges though, a first birthday party via zoom, feeling like I live and work in a playroom (which is really the living room of our townhouse) and a serious struggle to find toilet paper.
When looking at how this affected me as a working mother, it's worth noting I hold myself to an, at times, unrealistic high standard of performance. Recently, I have felt like I am failing in both areas—no one is getting the time they deserve. My amazing husband and I, like many other parents, have been splitting the day. Unfortunately, this gives us only four to five hours during the "work" day and leaves us logging in after bedtime to finish out the day if we want to get anything done aside from meetings. This is not sustainable for the long haul and makes you feel like you can't exhale.
That imaginary bar I hold myself to is going to have to come down for a while. I've had that conversation with my manager and she has been nothing short of fantastic, reassuring me that she does not expect me to do it all. This sentiment is echoed by our greater organization in every meeting and I hope they know how much that means to me. I am very fortunate to have a supportive and understanding leadership team within Tech Recruiting, HR and Capital One.
-Logan N., Recruiter
Finding new ways to collaborate while caring for children
From the moment I began exploring Capital One as a career choice, I was always incredibly impressed with the parental benefits and support provided to associates. The parental leave options, benefit choices... everything shouted they appreciated having parents as a valued part of the workforce. While this was definitely the case when I started in 2018, I don’t know that I have ever truly felt the full weight of support that I feel in this very uncertain time.
As soon as the decision to move to work from home was announced, the Audit team instantly set up Slack channels for collaboration and you could see resources for parents with kids at home popping in right away. There were pictures of executives working with their kids at home. Children of leaders at all levels making guest appearances on Zoom calls. One leader even had his daughter share a video of her view of dad working from home. Our Chief Audit Officer shared how she has been forced to share her desk with her school-aged daughter in a video update. We are even having a “Don’t” Take your Kids to Work event—encouraging kids to jump into their parents worklife, play online trivia and make a little fun of mom and dad along the way. It’s one thing to say you support parents during this time, it’s an entirely different thing to demonstrate it through your actions.
I have two small kids (7 years old and 10 months old) and I feel like I work more now than ever. Wearing the hats of wife, mom, full-time worker, daycare teacher and homeschool instructor has felt daunting more than once. My husband and I balance meetings and childcare like a teeter-totter most days. I can say with great confidence, however, that the Audit team has made me feel like family comes first and they understand that productivity isn’t at its highest and that’s ok in this moment. I am so appreciative to be a part of a team who truly cares about me—and more importantly—the well-being of my entire family.
-Casey G., Learning and Development Manager Audit - Audit Training
Focusing on the positive, at work and at home
The last two months have truly been unprecedented. Never in a million years would I have predicted a worldwide pandemic and shifting to working from home for months and sheltering in place for what appears to be a lifetime with an uncertain end. While I could spend lots of time talking about all of the bad things related to this historic time, I instead choose to talk about the good things. I keep reinforcing to my team - during a time where we've all been handed a lot of lemons, how are you making lemonade?
- I am proud of how my company is truly living our values of Doing the Right Thing for our associates, customers, and communities. I am also proud of how my leaders continue to emphasize taking care of myself and my family first and foremost, and offering resources to me not just as a leader at Capital One, but also as a parent, mother, and concerned human.
- I am grateful to get to spend so much more time with my girls Kennedy (15) and Simone (11), even when they'd much rather watch YouTube on their phones and tablets or text with their friends!
- I am grateful for athleisure wear—I can wear stretchy pants every day!
- I am grateful for family walks with my husband and kids and dog, Domino.
- I am grateful for having time to exercise and enjoy meals together as a family because my commute is nonexistent.
As a parent, I have lots of concerns related to my kids and how they will be impacted by this pandemic, but I continue to true back to the silver lining—the memories I am making with them because of this pandemic has given us the gift of time spent together.
-Shavonne Gordon, Head of Diversity Recruiting, US Card and Customer Channels Talent Acquisition
This small sample of working mothers shows just how important it is to be gentle with your family, your team and yourself during this difficult time. Our women’s Business Resource Group, EmpowHer, has led seminars on working at home with kids, while a number of internal slack channels have helped Capital One associates connect and learn from one another. There’s even been a reading program set up to help keep little ones entertained! One thing we’re sure of right now? Moms are amazing and we’re grateful for all the working moms here at Capital One.
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