In January, we announced expanded leave benefits to help Googlers support their families and loved ones, and encourage employees to take time for themselves. We recently spoke with Googler Patricia Torres, who’s using leave benefits to spend more time with her family.
What’s your role at Google?
I’m a Program Manager based in Sydney, leading talent development programs for university students. My team provides scholarship grants to help students pursuing computer science degrees build their technical skills and become leaders in the field.
Tell us about your Google career journey.
I joined Google in 2016 as an Operations Specialist for the Talent and Outreach Programs team. My daughter Natasha was one and a half years old at the time. As a new parent, I felt guilty about leaving her in daycare — she cried every day for seven months straight! During this time, I worked three days a week, which allowed me to take care of my daughter and still get my work done. Once Natasha turned three, I moved to a four-day work week. Since then, I’ve had five different roles at Google.
What’s your typical workday like?
My days center around my family. After checking emails and eating breakfast, my husband Chris and I take turns getting Natasha ready for school. I usually sign off around 5:30 p.m. and have dinner with my family. We have a nightly routine where we share challenges and what we’re grateful for — it’s been an eye-opening experience for all of us! Because of the time differences between Australia and the U.S. and Europe, where the rest of my team is based, I’ll sometimes jump on conference calls in the evening.
How has the pandemic affected the way you work?
COVID-19 has presented challenges for everybody. For me, the hardest part was balancing childcare with work. When my daughter’s school closed for in-person classes, my husband and I became teachers overnight. It was a huge relief when Google extended their Carer’s Leave policy, which provides time off for parents or caregivers to support children or other family members due to COVID. Over the next few months, Chris and I worked half days, taking turns to make sure Natasha finished her schoolwork. On top of that, my mum was sick and in the hospital. Having the flexibility to work from the hospital and spend time with her before she passed was so important to me. Chris and I are both lucky to work for organizations that prioritize our health, well-being and families.
What advice would you give to others about flexible work?
Prioritization is key. Every month, I put together a schedule for my work and home responsibilities. For my job, I schedule back-to-back meetings on set days and times and block out periods to execute my work — communicating these in advance to my manager, team and stakeholders. At home, we plan meals (and who is going to cook) a week in advance, and we figure out who will take Natasha to her many activities.
Thankfully, I’ve had supportive managers throughout the pandemic who have been understanding of the challenges we faced as a family. My managers told me to take the time I needed and offered an even more flexible work week when I returned from Carer’s Leave. Google has been there to support me and it’s made all the difference — helping our family stay happy and healthy in a time that’s been tough for so many people.