“My workday dramatically changed when San Francisco’s shelter-in-place order went into effect. In addition to working a full time job at the SFPUC, I’ve taken on an additional role: supporting my children’s brand new remote-learning programs being administered by their schools,” said Kesinee Angkustsiri Yip, SFPUC Deputy Director of the Communications Department.
Since March, Yip has been supporting the SFPUC’s department operations center (DOC) to help guide decision-making, provide support, and make recommendations with Tyler Gamble, SFPUC Communications Director. Working together to oversee the department’s business continuity, they ensure that critical projects continue and staff have the systems and tools that they need as they cycle on and off of their emergency response roles to support the City’s emergency operations center, the SFPUC’s DOC, and to other sites in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the SFPUC rapidly expanded its remote workforce when the City’s shelter-in-place orders went into effect, Yip saw an opportunity to think more broadly about how work can be done differently in this new normal, what work would look like when staff return to the office, and what that new normal post-COVID-19. “I consider it my responsibility to be a good listener, supporter, and champion for our team members – and that includes paying attention to and understanding what is important to folks outside of work,” she said. “Now that we are all sheltering in place, it is important to understand how to support each other as we learn to adapt to this way of working which presents new and different challenges for all of us.”
Yip reflected that while the COVID-19 pandemic is global, the impacts are acutely felt locally. “It also puts our educational system, our social services, our financial systems and other systems under a magnifying glass,” she said. “As City and County of San Francisco employees, and as disaster service workers, we have a unique role to play in helping our communities during this pandemic.” Yip shared it is rewarding that the work she is doing for San Francisco and its most vulnerable today is an opportunity to make changes that could endure long after the pandemic is gone. “For me that gives our work special meaning,” she said.
As a mother of two teenagers, Yip’s ability to multi-task during the work day has broadened. “I think that other parents would agree that keeping an eye on our kids’ socio-emotional well-being is more important than ever, and at the same time, the need for groceries and getting meals on the table certainly doesn’t go away,” she shared. “Although my kids are in middle school and high school, we still check in to see if they need assistance on homework, how they are tracking, and how their days have gone but I also try to stay attuned to how they are feeling.”
She shared that her kids are both experiencing loss. “Both the middle school dance and prom are obviously cancelled, and both graduations will be conducted virtually,” she said. Yip’s college-bound daughter still has AP exams to finish and they are uncertain if her first semester of college will be virtual, in-person, or some combination.
“Clubs and sports are obviously cancelled now and I know they are feeling a sense of loss and while we are trying our best to move forward, the reality is that there is no road map for navigating this exact situation,” Yip reflected as she acknowledged that this uncertainty has been a source of stress. “More than anything, I try my best to be a good listener and support to them, whether this comes in the form of a hug, their favorite meatloaf, or a boba run!”