Dorothy Peng
Apr 15, 2020

WFH diary: Wacky Zoom backgrounds and emergency hide-and-seek

The managing director of R/GA Singapore details her workday routine with two young (and restless) daughters at home.

WFH diary: Wacky Zoom backgrounds and emergency hide-and-seek

WFH for me has been a relatively easy transition as all our tools are cloud-based. Teams connect regularly on Slack and Zoom, and collaboration tools like Google Drive make the transition a lot more seamless.

The social isolation was potentially disorienting as we’re used to a sense of community in the office, so we started a 'virtual lunch hangout' on Zoom everyday at noon, to create a digital space that emulates our physical pantry. It’s been a revolving door of people coming and going, having lunch together and just connecting outside of projects.

My reality, though, is quite a different picture. Working from my dining table, my husband in his study, and two young daughters constantly demanding our attention.

[This entry was submitted before the implementation of Singapore's government-ordered circuit breaker which caused school closures] 

6.30am: Wake up, school run for Kid #1

7.30am: Workout (the benefit of not having a commute!)

8.30am: School run for Kid #2

9am: Morning standup on Slack, morning coffee

9.30am-12.30pm: Meetings on Zoom with various teams. On one call, I was joined by our senior creative technologist dialing in from his spaceship. On another, our associate strategy director showed her love for desserts through flying doughnuts as her Zoom background.

12.30-1.30pm: Virtual lunch hangout with the team, as Kid #1 returned from school

1.30pm: Homework and afternoon priorities for Kid #1

2pm: More Zoom meetings. This time I’m joined by our executive technology director at the back of a moving London cab, at the same time as our head of strategy dialing in from his man cave. Our experience design director has flying gold ingots behind her.

3pm: I take a break and try to create my next Zoom background. It’s my form of creative release nowadays. Then it’s on to deck and document reviews on Google drive, while I help Kid #1 with her “Student Learning Space” online. I’m the designated Chinese teacher at home.

4pm: More deck and document reviews on Google drive, while Kid #2 returns from school. She insists on playing hide-and-seek with me, a new game she’s just learnt. I count to 10, but the game is cut short because she comes out of her hiding spot squealing with glee.

5pm: Quick phone call with a client, who is understanding of the amount of background noise there is. Kid #1 is on a Facetime call with her best friends from school while having some tea with her sister.

5.30pm: I’m invited to the birthday party of Mary, Kid #2’s soft toy cat. We sing “祝你生日快乐” before the candles are blown and I can return to my laptop. This time, working from the floor of my living room as the party continues beside me. 

6pm: Last call with another team, before my husband and I bring the two restless kids out to the back alley for some play time before dinner. 

It’ll still take us a while to get used to this new normal for now, both at work and at home. Full days of Zoom meetings, Slack discussions, and emails, coupled with Netflix, Whatsapp, Instagram at night, and our new reality could be completely screen-based. Maybe my 27-month-old’s ideas of hide-and-seek and birthday parties for soft toys are less of the disturbance, and more of a saving grace and welcome distraction. After all, I’d much prefer a future where humanity continues to be defined by social interaction and bonding. 

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