Around the (home) office with Bam Communications’ Saramaya Penacho

A COVID-19 Q&A with the health tech practice MD at Bam Communications, which has offices in New York and San Diego. Penacho is currently working out of her San Diego home.

Who do you share your home/office with?
My husband is also working from home and we have a nine-month-old baby who’s crawling up a storm and brings me some much-needed joy.

We also have a six-year-old dog who ensures we take two daily walks, with safe social distancing measures, of course. My mother-in-law lives locally and, fortunately, watches our daughter most days. It really takes a village. I know many Americans are without childcare.

What equipment and software are you using?
I start the morning in our home office and then swap to the dining table in the afternoon. [So] my laptop is great to help me easily move throughout the house.

The Google Suite, Zoom and Slack were already a big part of my day. My company has used video chatting with internal teams and clients for years, so that was an easy transition. But it’s even more valuable now to ensure “face time.”

What's your pre-work morning ritual?
It isn’t too complex nor has it changed much since isolation. I still get ready (but, hello leggings!). I feed my daughter and make myself coffee and oatmeal.

My post-work evening ritual has changed the most, helping me decompress and prepare for the next day. At 5 p.m. sharp, it’s family time in my house. This starts with my daughter and I watering our garden — it took a pandemic for us to finally plant one — and a family walk in our neighborhood staying socially distant, of course.

My family loves being outside and we cherish our evening walks together. My husband and I talk about the day’s COVID-19 stats, among other things. At least two nights a week I do a group video chat with four of my closest friends in San Diego, which has made a significant positive impact on my wellbeing.

When do you sign on in the morning?
PR is often a round-the-clock job. While I consistently check emails after hours and as soon as I wake up in bed, I officially sign on at 8 a.m. I first scan emails and Slack messages for anything timely, then read the news, spanning a variety of outlets, and keeping an eye on what COVID-19 and non-COVID stories are trending.

What’s your typical schedule?
Fortunately, in some ways, my days are still pretty normal. But I find the atmosphere and conversations with my team and clients are in a new landscape.

6 a.m. Wake up, shower, lightly get ready.

7-7:45 a.m. Baby wakes, breastfeed, morning snuggles.

7:45-8 a.m. Hanging with the baby, making my coffee and oatmeal.

8-10 a.m. Typically, emails/Slack messages, reading the news, touching base with teams and clients on any COVID-specific impacts for the day, pitching media.

10 a.m.-12 p.m. Working on business development, both proactive and inbound leads, research, decks and so on.

12-3 p.m. Client calls, content development/review.

3-5 p.m. More content creation, team coordination, and anything else that pops up!

5-6:15 p.m. Family walk and playtime.

6:15-7 p.m. Bathtime with my daughter, then story time and lights out.

7-8 p.m. My husband and I cook and eat dinner together.

8-10:30 p.m. We catch up on anything from work, laundry, dishes, and all the other fun stuff that comes with “adulting.”

What other personal obligations are you having to schedule in with work?
Parents definitely have an added layer of considerations during the pandemic. I work with several other mothers and we have a dedicated Slack channel where we discuss the challenges. More than anything, we try and support each other through this exceptionally hard time.

My husband and I eat lunch together most days, which is nice compared to many days in the office when I scarfed something down at my desk.

What is your funniest WFH moment?
My nine-month-old is very much in the babbling stage. I call her my baby dinosaur because of the diverse octaves she reaches.

One afternoon while working from the dining table, my mother-in-law was feeding her a snack and my daughter was quite vocal. I was on an internal Zoom meeting, and the “dinosaur” was in full force. With my husband in the office, I grabbed my laptop and quickly stepped into the nearest private space, our guest bathroom. My colleagues found it pretty amusing.

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