Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Working Mom Wednesday: Virtual high fives!

I work in IT (Information Technology).

I work in a virtual world.

I rarely see my coworkers and customers.

We operate by conference call, e-mail and instant message.  Globally, in international time zones.  I have worked with some people -- for years -- that I have never met.  Or maybe I've met once when he or she happen to be in town on a business trip.

Do we talk about "personal stuff" like kids, spouses, home life?  Of course. Successful virtual working requires that we can build relationships with people we never see face-to-face. So, yes, I talk about my kids and what they are up to in school.  I offered up my husband's latest attempts to become a movie star.

I also ask my coworkers and customers about their home life. I've found out fascinating things about my coworkers, their culture, and parenting worldwide. 
  • A coworker in Slovakia was required to attend a fathering class at the hospital before his daughter was born.  Awwww....
  • My European counterparts were aghast when I returned to work after my son was only 3 months old (most of Europe has at least a year's worth of maternity leave).  I'm aghast, too.  Ah, well.
  • I've discussed the differences between Montessori versus Waldorf style preschool with a German coworker.  He'd never heard of Montessori, but his son attended a Waldorf school.
  • An Indian software developer I work with recently had to move to a new work location -- his company built a brand new campus for 25,000 people.  His wife was not happy about his new hour and a half commute.  I was dumbfounded by a company has that many employees in one location.
  • I've spoken to my boss's boss's boss about her trials and tribulations with her adopted teenage son.  This gave me a new-found respect for my executive-level manager.
Without these non-business interactions, my coworkers would just be voices at the other end of the phone.  These personal interactions are important for building trust and increase collaboration.  Clearly, there are boundaries to these discussions.  I'm unlikely to discuss my daughter's latest angst, the color of my son's poop, or last tiff with my husband.  Be Positive Mom gave some great guidelines on finding those boundaries.

This post was prompted by...


Steph, from Be Positive Mom said...

Amazing interactions from across the world! So interesting to read about how other working parents are handling it all. I'm "aghast" too about the 1-year maternity leave in other countries. Would be nice to have that "paid" option here in the US. I would still be on the leave as I type this comment! Thanks for the link back to my post :-)

Liz said...

I love learning about customs in other countries and cultures! And before blogging, I had never even heard of the Waldorf style!

Julia said...

what's a waldorf school?? so interesting the stuff you learned. i learned that girls at the age 13, typically get sent back to India to learn the culture and school for 2 years. some return to the US, some don't.

kt moxie said...

Julia: I'm no expert, but my understanding is that Waldorf preschools are based on creative and imaginative play. They use all wooden toys (you can buy Waldorf toys), and emphasis practical life and conceptual learning.

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