When the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic in March 2020, Convoy shifted its business operations to an entirely work-from-home format to ensure the health and safety of employees. While this change has affected all Convoyagers differently, one group that has been affected the most is working parents. Before COVID-19, working from home and being able to spend the day with the kids could be an enjoyable way to spend more time with family. Now, it has become a delicate balance of setting and achieving work expectations while parenting full-time. While this balance has been challenging, working parents at Convoy have learned to lean on each other and take advantage of the resources available to them in order to succeed in this new environment.
Things have changed quite a bit from throwing Convoy’s first official “Take Your Kids to Work Day” event at the Seattle office in 2019, a memory many took home and put on the metaphoric trophy shelf. As the pandemic has continued to affect the way we work, go to school, and live our lives, working parents, including myself, have had to adapt to our “new normal” in challenging, surprising, and sometimes uplifting ways. Now, the once-in-a-while privilege of children joining their parents on a Zoom meeting has become a necessity for working parents with kids in school. One challenge working parents have faced over the past year has been asking for help in both our professional and family lives. For Nikki Brown, a Senior Account Manager and founder of the Parents @ Convoy Employee Resource Group (ERG), that looked like “asking my dad to watch my kids sometimes or taking my sister up on an offer to help meal plan on the weekend. I learned where to lean on others for help in my org [rather] than try and recreate the wheel.”
Convoy’s Parents Slack channel has been a great place for parents to laugh, to commiserate, and to inspire. Whether it is asking others for advice on how to answer the question “Mom, can you tell me the truth, are you the tooth fairy?”, or simply “How much screen time is everyone allowing their kids to have each day?”, working parents at Convoy rely on each other and the pandemic has solidified that for many.
In a recent Shipper Team meeting, Nikki Brown was chosen to share a recorded video and speak to the team about what working from home during the pandemic has been like for her, and how she’s been able to succeed as a working mom of two. In the video, you can hear Slack messages and text messages buzzing in the background and see her three year old daughter sitting on her lap, occasionally adding her commentary to the video. Nikki shared “if I wanted to really excel … I needed to take advantage of the resources that are available to me both at work and my personal life… It continues to be an exercise in humility for me. I don’t want to be an average mom or an average employee, and for me that meant I needed to get super clear on what tasks I could do and what I could ask others for help on… I needed to embrace the concept of ‘the village’.”
For 2021, Parents @ Convoy is focused on adding depth and structure to the resources and programming we provide for parents. To start, we heard from ERG members that in order to feel supported by Convoy as working parents, they needed to feel comfortable having open conversations with their managers about what they were going through and the challenges they were experiencing working from home. Because initiating these conversations with managers is understandably challenging for many working parents, Parents @ Convoy made Convoy’s People Team aware of these difficulties and HR quickly rolled out additional training for managers, helping them break the ice and initiate these conversations in respectful, productive manners. I can recall my manager, soon after we started working from home, pausing during a weekly 1:1 to calibrate how I was doing overall and understand what I needed to help me succeed. Simply creating space for this candor is crucial for employees’ well-being. We know that working parents who have a supportive and encouraging environment in their role as a parent tend to, in turn, be more productive and efficient employees. Freight doesn’t sleep and neither do some children.
Through the struggles of the past year, however, there have been some silver linings. As Tucker Tillman, a Senior Manager on Convoy’s Account Management team shares, “Prior to COVID, I was off to work each day before my kids were awake and came home right at dinner time. On the weekdays, I really only saw my girls for about an hour each night. Even though the pandemic has been a struggle, I’ve spent the last year regularly having three meals a day with my girls and have been grateful for every second!”
With the chaotic and unpredictable nature of the past year, it has been amazing to see how adaptable, patient, and empathetic our co-workers have been to the ever-changing schedules of the family. Even the non-parents I work with regularly understand when I need to move a meeting last minute, show up a little late, or need some extra time to work on a project. This camaraderie is palpable across Convoy and enables everyone to show up and perform at their best both at their job and in their personal lives.
The Parents @ Convoy Employee Resource Group (ERG) strives to promote Convoy’s strategic goals by assisting the organization in recruiting, retaining, and advancing parents, strengthening teams by promoting diversity and inclusion at Convoy, serving as a resource for all Parents at Convoy, and positively influencing the organization by providing awareness, education, and support to ensure professional development of all employees.
If you or someone you know is interested in speaking to the parents community at Convoy, we’d love to hear from you. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re co-hosting a virtual event in Q3 2021 with Womxn @ Convoy discussing career mapping and looking for speakers.