my coworker watches a daycare livestream all day

A reader writes:

I work with a young woman who is constantly watching a daycare livestream throughout her workday. She has her work on her primary monitor and the daycare video on her second monitor, and everyone who walks past her desk sees that this is what she is doing all day long. She will even occasionally make comments such as, “Oh, it looks like (daughter’s name) didn’t eat her snack today.”

Her manager does not sit near her, so he likely does not see the extent of her viewing habits. I am two levels above her and have 10 more years of experience in the company, but I am still essentially her peer. I was assigned as her “coach” when she started. That said, the role and responsibilities of coaching have never been clearly defined in the company, and most see the role as overseeing technical work rather than anything managerial.

She is now having significant performance issues that are resulting in lack of salary increases and no promotion in sight, which are very frustrating to her. These performance issues have mostly related to her inability to manage the (incredibly difficult!) task of being a working mom. For example, she had a habit of saying she was working from home when one of her two young children was sick with various daycare bugs. After a few months of her working from home nearly 30% of the time, her manager finally asked what she was working on at home and she had to admit that she was doing nothing. That particular issue has since been handled (she now uses vacation time or her husband helps more), but she still needs to do a lot of work to catch up from the performance issues.

So, the question is, in my non-managerial role, do I pull her aside and tell her that her daycare viewing habit looks really unprofessional and is really not helping her look like she wants to step up and improve her performance? Or is this not as big of a deal as I am making it out to be? Has parenting changed that much in the last 10 years since my own child was in daycare that this is now normal?

Two pieces of potentially relevant info: (1) I am a working mom myself (and a single mom at that!), so I totally understand how hard it is. I spent years using every single vacation day I had staying home with a sick kiddo because I had no other options. (2) She started work two weeks before Covid lockdown, so I think she got used to the flexibility we all needed at the time when daycares were not open and we had no other choice but to work from home with young kids. She seems to have taken those flexibilities and assumed they still apply now and it has never occurred to her manager (male, with no young kids) to explain that that is not how corporate environments actually operate.

No, it’s not normal to watch your child’s daycare livestream all day long when you’re supposed to be working! If she were able to do it while still performing at a high level, that would be one thing (although still a problem if it were distracting other people), but to do it while she’s struggling with performance issues is particularly bad judgment.

Taken in combination with her saying she was working from home when her kids were sick but then not actually working, it sounds like she might be really struggling to juggle parenthood with work. But while there are lots of reasons to be sympathetic to working parents who are stretched too thin, she’s not going to find a lot of people who are sympathetic to (a) saying you’re working while actually doing nothing day after day (and it’s surprising that admitting that to her manager didn’t result in a lot more oversight, at a minimum) or (b) watching a daycare livestream all day instead of working (as opposed to, say, not being able to find childcare at all; a lot of parents have wished for reliable daycare since 2020, and she’s sort of negating the point of having it).

Anyway. Yes, combined with her struggling performance, it’s a big deal. Whether it’s anything you need to act on is a different question. This is really something her boss should be noticing and addressing — and even though he doesn’t sit near her, he should be sufficiently engaged with his employees that he’s aware of this. Of course, this is the same manager who took months to finally ask what she was working on at home when she wasn’t producing anything, which means he’s not exactly on top of things … although you’d think that experience would have nudged him to pay more attention.

But as her coach, you do have standing to say something to her, and you’d likely be doing her a favor if you did. Yes, coaching at your company might normally just be technical feedback and not anything beyond, but you wouldn’t be approaching this with a managerial hat on, but rather as a colleague who’s invested in her and sees her doing something that could harm her. Approach her from a place of concern, not control and frame it as, “The optics of this are really bad and will make it seem like you’re not paying enough attention to your work, and it’s likely to cause problems if (manager) realizes you’re doing it at the same time you’re still getting caught up.” From there, it’s up to her what she does with that feedback — but you have standing to mention it as a concerned colleague who presumably wants to see her succeed.

There’s also the question of whether, as her coach, it’s something your company would expect you to mention to her manager too. I don’t know the answer to that — it depends on how this works internally in your company — but it’s something you should consider. As her boss, I’d certainly want to know so I could address it (especially if I were wondering why I wasn’t seeing enough improvement) … although her boss seems to be quite hands-off, so factor that in accordingly.

{ 290 comments… read them below }

  1. Someone Else's Boss*

    This is so tricky! I’m not a parent, but many of my staff members are, and I try to be so, so flexible with their schedules (and the schedules of all my employees – you don’t have to have children to have a complicated life). That said, if I had a team member who was underperforming, and I knew she was distracted by a daycare livestream, I would be concerned. Working and Parenting are both full-time jobs, and it’s impossible to do either well while distracted by the other. In most cases, having reliable childcare allows you to parent when you’re home, and work while you’re not. It sounds like she’s trying to do both at once, which will just not work. Ideally, her manager would tell her this. But if he doesn’t know, he can’t do that. And it would be weird, in my opinion, to bring this to his attention. If the LW has first hand knowledge of what’s going on, I think she’s in a good position to discuss this with the employee. Especially if the employee is confiding that she’s frustrated that she’s not being promoted or getting raises.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Excellent point about distraction!

      The point of the one thing is to be able to do the other thing without distraction. If that isn’t happening, then something has to change.

      Most likely this needs to be a mentality and habit change. Is there something about the existing daycare setup that she doesn’t trust for some reason, or is it just so easy to put on the video stream that she never even thought twice about it?

      After all, if you had an employee that was always watching a livestream of an eagle nest, or fat bear week, or Old Faithful, and the distraction was adversely affecting their productivity, I think most people wouldn’t hesitate to say something.

      1. Fluffy Fish*

        just want to go on record that fat bear week is more important than work (kidding of course)

      2. Frickityfrack*

        Loool I was just thinking about how much fat bear livestreaming I did last year. But like…in between my appointments. I wasn’t blowing off my job to watch majestic bears being majestic.

        1. Lizzianna*

          I’ve definitely caught myself zoning out while watching fat bear week or other various wildlife cams. But usually it’s just up to have something going in the background if my brain needs a short break, then I can get back to focus.

          I don’t think I could have it running in the background the same way if it were a livestream of my kids. That’s too hard for me to tune out (which is why I have them in daycare in the first place). I don’t feel the need to pack up my computer and run out of there if I see a bear cub take a tumble.

      3. Attic Wife*

        I specifically asked for a second monitor simply so I could watch the bears of Katmai. I take fat bear week seriously but they are a nice enough diversion to watch for a minute or two in the middle of a busy summer.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          I might have a livestream up of bears fishing for salmon in Alaska, in season. But I’m not so distracted by it that I don’t get work done. It’s just a little break if I have 5′!

          1. Michelle Smith*

            I watch the Great Moose Migration every year. I also watch Twitch when I’m working from home. But I do find that without some kind of noise, whether nature sounds or video game stuff that my brain registers as background noise, I find it difficult to focus. I need that stimulation to actually get any work done.

            1. Arts Akimbo*

              Same! I need noise and stimulation in order to focus. I need it to be predictable noise, though, like a movie or tv show I’ve seen a million times and don’t have to look at. Unpredictable noise like a daycare would destroy my workflow.

              1. KitKate*

                That’s exactly what I do when working from home, especially when I am doing very repetitive/ tedious tasks like data entry. Predictable background noise helps me focus and reduces errors. I cannot get work done when my two young children are home because they are very distracting, and I cannot imagine trying to work while watching the daycare video feed- the temptation to check on my kids would be too tempting.

          2. Midwest-y*

            I watch the salmon-fishing Alaskan bears at work too. I keep it running on my second monitor. The IT department makes it impossible for us to change the settings on my computer, including the screen saver timer. When the fat bears are on, my computer doesn’t log me out every 2 minutes. I don’t actually watch the bears. I try to take frequent screen breaks to give my eyes a rest and to try (unsuccessful) to stop the late afternoon bad-office-lighting headaches. My desk is in a lovely high-traffic spot next to the printer and the men’s bathroom — so people are probably seeing the video playing on my second screen and thinking what is up with that.

      4. I Have RBF*

        After all, if you had an employee that was always watching a livestream of an eagle nest, or fat bear week, or Old Faithful, and the distraction was adversely affecting their productivity, I think most people wouldn’t hesitate to say something.


        I sometimes have the Otter Cam ( running in a window while I work. But if it becomes a distraction, I shut it off. I usually use it when I am in the thinking/design mode, or in the middle of a dull meeting that I don’t need to contribute much to.

        Part of having things like this available at work is the assumption that people will be adult about it, and keep their first priority as work during the workday.

        Yes, as their coach they have standing to say something, as it’s part of coaching on workplace norms.

      5. Ellie*

        Its the productivity angle OP should be focusing on though, not the livestream. One of my former co-workers had video cameras set up at home so that he could watch how his dogs were going from the office. No-one ever said anything because he is known as one of the highest performers in the company, and has been for a decade. I’ve seen other people with the soccer on, or the Olympics, whose performance has varied. OP could point out that the livestream is not a good idea when your work is already being questioned, but really, I’d focus on just making sure she is doing her work.

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      I’m a parent and you definitely can’t do both at once. Yes, I occasionally need to try when my daughter is sick or daycare is closed for another reason and my in-laws aren’t available, but those are once in a blue moon situations, not the norm.

      While I find the idea of even having a live-stream really weird (reminds me of Angela with her cats on The Office) it would be one thing if she occasionally checked it to see how things were going, but having it up all day is no different than having a movie on all day.

      1. DrD*

        I’m a parent, and as my kids got a bit older but still we’re home while I was WFH due to the pandemic, I think it is possible to do both on a given day with carefully planning and some lucky. But I agree that it is not possible to focus on at least most work and on parenting simultaneously like this! I occasionally texted and received text updates from childcare as recently as 4 years ago, but I actually have a colleague who had a doggy daycare feed recently, so this doesn’t surprise me. I think LW seems to be in a good position to comment as Allison suggests, but bring awareness that there could be an anxiety issue or health scare causing anxiety or a need to boost milk production (for which viewing pictures of the baby is supposed to help, though this seems beyond that) or some other concern that is behind this desire to have the baby feed on all the time.

        1. Mollie*

          I had a baby at the beginning of the pandemic and was very thankfully able to have them in daycare, but there were still miserable times when they were either sick themselves or daycare was closed for 2 weeks due to covid. Especially, for the 2 week closings, my husband and I usually could make it work since we have different work schedules or could handle times where the other one wasn’t available, but it was really stressful. I also considered the reason the kid was home and if I was not going to be able to complete my work obligations that day, I took a day off. I’m so appreciative of the flexibility provided by the pandemic to make it an option instead of having no choice but to go through all my time off when these situations occur. I know people who WFH and do childcare to save money, and I just can’t fathom how stressful that life is.

          It would definitely be interesting to get the worker’s take on being frustrated about not advancing coupled with what’s known about her behavior (watching the feed, not doing anything while WFH) and what’s driving the need to watch the feed all day or ignore the work she’s expected/paid to do. I am also surprised the daycare has a live feed. That seems like a bad idea all around.

          1. WorkingMom*

            Mine went through daycare before these cams were common, and I’m kind of glad. No news was good news (they’d call if something were up that needed immediate communication), and I got a nice summary of the day at pick up.

            I’d imagine being able to check in via cam a few times a day (breaks, lunch, etc) would have helped put me at ease as a new mom- just a quick check that kiddo is a-okay so that I can focus in X meeting or on Y task.

            Having it on all day everyday would make me feel like I’m failing at both work and motherhood. And, not that the accountability the cams provide is bad- but the constant access would probably encourage me to nitpick and stress over little things instead of trusting my village/support systems and looking at kiddo’s wellbeing as a whole in the care setting.

            1. Lizzianna*

              I feel like my daughter’s daycare has a decent balance. They post pictures and videos to an app throughout the day, along with a log of feedings, diaper changes and naps (they’re required to keep this log and provide it to parents by the licensing board anyway).

              It’s nice to see pictures of her having fun throughout the day, but I can also turn the notifications off if I need to focus on something. I honestly think a livestream would be too much information for me, because I’d still be sitting across town and even if I saw something, I don’t know what I’d do about it. And honestly, having some terrible daycare experiences with my older son and some excellent ones, and the one with my daughter being pretty middle of the road, I understand the fear that you don’t know what’s happening when you’re not there, but also, it was pretty clear to us in the bad situation that something was wrong and it was not a good fit for my kid. I don’t think it’s as easy to hide bad caregiving as some people imagine it is.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            My kid’s daycare had a choppy low res feed in the play room. What it gave was reassurance that the kid who wailed when I left really did calm down quickly when I was out if sight.
            It was not for all day watching.

        2. Milton's Swingline Stapler*

          This poor parent! I also keyed in on the fact they’re likely dealing with serious anxiety. My kids are 5 and 1 and OMFG the apps and feeds — holy moly. I feel really lucky to a) not be anxious about my kids in general, and b) have total confidence in my child care providers, but I can totally see how the access technology provides can be problematic for anxious parents, especially young parents and first-timers! And it’s this self-reinforcing cycle where some parents want constant updates and day cares feel pressured to provide updates and show they’re being proactive, so the end result is just getting bombarded with notifications constantly. You can literally select to get a notification on your phone every time they change your baby’s diapers! I told our day care to message me directly for stuff that’s urgent and turned off all the app notifications because it was just way too much. But if you’re prone to anxiety, and lord knows that got dialed up for so many during the pandemic, I could totally see how checking in your kids could become compulsive to the point that it’s unhealthy and interferes with functioning at work. It sounds like the letter writer has a lot of empathy being a parent themselves, and maybe taking a “parent-to-parent” approach to the convo would help the parent understand that having the feed is probably doing more harm than good.

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I’m not a parent so I don’t get why you’d need to watch all day. wouldn’t the kid be fine? especially since she sees them returned in much the same condition as they were unlike my nephew and niece who have covered themselves in paint and escaped the daycare

          1. umami*

            My spouse wanted (and still wants!) a camera inside our house so he can check on our dogs, but I refuse because I don’t feel like I can trust myself to not watch them all day lol. So yes, I agree.

          2. pope suburban*

            I definitely thought that this might be a situation where an EAP, if available, could help, because it sounds like she’s anxious or having other difficulties that inhibit focus. That’s not a judgment, I totally get it, but anyone in that situation ought to have help working through it.

        1. Lexie*

          You would hope that the kid would be fine but there are enough daycare horror stories out there to make people feel apprehensive about leaving their child with someone who is essentially a stranger. She might be afraid she’ll miss a bunch of firsts. She may have a boatload of mommy guilt about sending her child to daycare. It could be she initially intended just to do a quick checkin every few hours and ended up just leaving it on.

          1. Ann*

            If the day care is that awful, she should be looking at other options yesterday. If something does happen, heaven forbid, how is it going to help that she was watching on camera?

            1. umami*

              Part of it is the sense of security that there is a live stream, so any parent can be checking in at any time, so parents can rest assured that nothing untoward is happening to their child. I think it’s more a comfort to her to be able to see her child at any moment (I’m imagining that she has the stream up all day but isn’t necessarily watching it the entire day, but it’s not really clear.)

        2. Pet Jack*

          I am a parent and there is no need to watch all day. And I think it is unhealthy and…well weird. They are at daycare because you are doing something else. Also, babies are…boring! Honestly it’s not like you are watching them in a performance or sport or something.

        3. Bear Expert*

          I am a parent and I don’t get the need to watch all day.

          The day care’s job is to handle the child care. If you don’t trust them to do it, and call/tell you about any issues you need to handle, then find other care arrangements. But examining if your kid ate their snack, outside of some medical issues (and even then, the day care can report to you!) is Way Too Much.

          Its cool the daycare has a live stream, I guess. Checking in on it a few times a day should be plenty to get a glimpse of little Samantha making a painting/listening to a story/making plastic frogs rain from the sky. (Personally, I don’t want my kid under that level of surveillance and my preferred daycare/preschool options spent as much time as possible outside, so a webcam in the room would have been useless.)

          1. Ellie*

            You have to consider the possibility there’s a darker reason at play. I know two women who will not even consider daycare because they were abused as children. I’m not suggesting that’s the case here, it sounds like she just has no boundaries between work and parenting, but there’s always the chance that something like that could come out once you look into it. Then what do you do?

            1. nnn*

              It doesn’t change anything about how you handle it. Daycare livestreams didn’t even exist 6 or 8 years ago. Lots of people have jobs where watching it wouldn’t be possible.

        4. WorkingMom*

          I meant to post this under your comment…. nesting fail :)

          Mine went through daycare before these cams were common, and I’m kind of glad. No news was good news (they’d call if something were up that needed immediate communication), and I got a nice summary of the day at pick up.

          I’d imagine being able to check in via cam a few times a day (breaks, lunch, etc) would have helped put me at ease as a new mom- just a quick check that kiddo is a-okay so that I can focus in X meeting or on Y task.

          Having it on all day everyday would make me feel like I’m failing at both work and motherhood. And, not that the accountability the cams provide is bad- but the constant access would probably encourage me to nitpick and stress over little things instead of trusting my village/support systems and looking at kiddo’s wellbeing as a whole in the care setting.

        5. Kindred Spirit*

          There are a lot of things that can happen to a child in daycare – and there may not be obvious physical evidence. I understand her wanting the reassurance, but watching all day isn’t healthy and clearly impacting her productivity.

        6. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          I am a parent and I agree – this can be totally unhealthy. Part of using daycare or any other childcare means giving up total control, which in my opinion is a good thing. I have friends for whom putting their toddlers in preschool is so stressful it’s literally causing them to have a mental health crisis, and I think we’d all be better served by chilling out 5-50% more.

        7. Lenora Rose*

          I am a parent, and honestly, while I love to watch my kids, I would honestly be bored watching them on a video **all day every day**. The only time I’d watch it avidly was if there had been an incident or two of concern and I was reassuring myself those were departures from the norm, or if they got up to something extra egregious when I happened to have my attention on it.

          I think every parent would like to somehow be a fly on the wall for a typical day or two at school or day care… but, again, barring concerning reports of events, even that impulse would be very much here and there, not constantly.

        8. Anon for this*

          With little ones sometimes you worry that the care isn’t great, and just because something visible hasn’t injured the child, it doesn’t mean there is a safe sleep environment/kids aren’t being ignored when they cry, etc.

          And the times I worried that the care wasn’t great, I didn’t have a lot of other options.

          1. Anon here for reasons*

            I 100% agree with this. Also, my kid’s second ever daycare was closed when the owner was arrested for McMartin preschool type allegations. There was a meeting with police and agency workers about how we may never know if our kid was also a victim. (In fact, I think it’s likely the allegations were false, but how likely, I don’t know and can never be sure.) Kid was starting school at the same school my spouse teaches, but younger sib went to a new daycare shortly thereafter—if that place had had a live feed, I probably would have had it running in the background.

            Parents have reason to worry about stuff. We don’t all just have anxiety disorders.

    3. ThatGirl*

      I am not a parent either, but have many coworkers who are. I’m sympathetic to how difficult modern parenting can be. But like … to me this is weird. The whole point of daycare is that someone else is watching your kids, so you don’t need to. It almost sounds like anxiety, needing to watch them at all times. She needs to learn to disconnect and trust that the daycare is doing its job and her kid will be OK.

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        I agree. And if she started right before COVID, she probably doesn’t have a sense of what is a typical working parent experience. She might even figure that since no one has said anything, it’s fine. Some people really do need direct “this isn’t ok” conversations.

        It would definitely be kind to clue her in that having the livestream up all day is a distraction to others and herself. Make it casual. Maybe do a “coach” check in and bring up that you’ve noticed this and just let her know this isn’t something that she should be doing at work.

      2. MK*

        Also not a parent, and it sounds kind of creepy to me to be constantly monitoring your child (and I am assuming other children), without them being aware. My niece is in daycare and my sister gets updates and photos via an app.

      3. A Little Birdie Told Me*

        Yeah. I had a child in the middle of the pandemic and have at-home childcare. I actually made a point of setting silent alarms on my phone to turn OFF the notifications on our baby monitor at 9 so I’m not tempted to rush over and see why she’s setting off the “cry alert.” SO good for my mental health.

      4. Tuckerman*

        Having worked in daycares- keep in mind that these are low income employees with sometimes little to no work experience, and it’s a high stress environment. You don’t know what happens when you leave. Especially challenging when your kid is too young to talk.

        1. Anon here for reasons*


          Not to impugn daycare workers, but sometimes there are bad or burnt out ones, like any other workplace.

          Also, everyone like, “if you don’t trust your daycare you need to find a new one” never tried to find a daycare for a child under 2-3 in New York City. I toured and put down deposits in daycares in two boroughs five months before I needed a spot and only ever had one place actually offer me a spot. There were no other choices; it was that place or quit my job.

          1. Ellie*

            I had fantastic daycare for my son and for the first few years of my daughter’s life. Then covid happened, we had to work from home, and suddenly the brilliant daycare was a 2 hour round trip away. We held out for about 18 months until my son started school and then we couldn’t do it anymore. Of the five local daycare’s, two had no vacancies, one was a specialist daycare that had a very formal, cold way of operating, one was miles away and on a busy road, and one looked OK, at first, so we went with that. The more she was there, the more I didn’t like it though, the workers there were quite nasty with each other, like they were back in high school, and there were a couple of special needs kids who would occasionally injure the others. I changed my hours to minimise the amount of time she was there for, but it was pretty nerve-wracking. Sometimes you don’t have much choice, and its hard to know what its really like in the middle of the day when its just the kids there.

      5. Quill*

        Not a parent, but a teacher’s kid, and I agree this cannot be good for her – whether it’s fueling anxiety or it’s impacting her relationship with / trust in the daycare providers. Nothing out of the ordinary needs to happen for a very young child to have a bad day – they trip and fall, someone else gets the toy they really wanted, they suddenly form an opinion about how much they do not want the provided snack – but the urge to go in there and handle every minor inconvenience for your kid is going to be strong. And distracting. It may be more distracting to be half-watching and then look up and discover that your kid is crying because the light is in their eyes, or someone else is getting attention and they aren’t, or because they failed to figure out how to get a toy to work… and of course not know the context, because you’re not there, and instantly worry more than you would if the exact same thing happened at home.

        The older (and more independent / emotionally mature) the kid gets, the harder this is going to be on both the parents and the teachers and caretakers, because sometimes truly you do have to let the kids argue long enough to learn conflict resolution, or cannot instantly fix the blinds / uncomfortable clothes wrinkle / toy sharing situation.

      6. allathian*

        Yeah, this. I honestly feel sorry for the poor kid, this is helicopter parenting at its worst.

        Sure, I suppose surveillance cameras can be used in daycares to catch things after the fact, if a kid comes home with bruises or torn clothes, or whatever. But I don’t think giving parents access to a live stream is healthy, at all. I’m pretty sure that in Finland it’d break privacy rules because there’s you can’t really let a parent watch their own kid while not letting them see any other kids, especially as . Kids are resilient and won’t die if they refuse to eat their snack or to take a nap.

        The earlier parents learn that their kids are individuals in their own right rather than extensions of their parents, the better. You’re going to have to let go eventually if you want to raise independent rather than codependent adults.

    4. WellRed*

      It’s really not that tricky. She has ongoing performance issues including lying about WFH and it sounds, at a minimum, distracting to others. Parents don’t get a pass on working when they are supposed to be working and Penelope not eating her snacky poo is hardly a parental crisis.

      1. Pet Jack*

        Right – the sympathy piece might come in if something is trying to manage sick kid or something that actually is at home – or there are doctors appointments or things that require them to leave work immediately. Not doing work to watch daycare is the same as not doing work to watch movies. Although movies are a lot more fun and have more of a purpose than this!

      2. Hot Flash Gordon*

        Yeah, I’m having a hard time with being sympathetic to this behavior. She’s an adult and needs to knock it off and improve her work performance. I’m sure her peers are very frustrated by this and wondering what’s being done.

  2. Rara Avis*

    I would have been dismayed to learn that my child’s daycare had a livestream, because I don’t want my own child viewable by other people. As a teacher (of bigger kids), I would not accept a job with such surveillance — the classroom needs to be a safe space for all the kids, and parents need to trust the school to provide that safe space. I know it’s tough with the little ones, but media magnifies a small number of issues. We are truly living in the world of 1984/Big Brother, and it isn’t healthy.

    1. ThisIsNotADuplicateComment*

      Honestly that was my first thought too! Even if the stream is password protected somehow or has a private link all it takes is someone sharing it once and then who knows who would be able to watch your kid all day! Sure it might not be likely, but still. I cannot imagine.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I was thinking of the employees who have to do their job while being constantly videotaped. When employers did that for remote office workers during the pandemic this was evil, but when it’s being done to low paid care workers, it’s a nice perk?

        1. Anon here for reasons*

          I will say I’m a big fan of body-worn cameras for police officers. (Though they are much better paid than teachers and daycare workers.)

          1. Professional Cat Lady*

            Teachers and daycare workers also don’t routinely murder people under ambiguous circumstances.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      I don’t have kids, but I imagine that a lot of people wouldn’t be happy to have video of their kid viewable by any random person walking by someone’s desk. (Also, there’s the possibility for people to surreptitiously take photos of the screen.) All kinds of potential issues here.

    3. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Yeah, this was my concern too. I wish people would take children’s privacy (especially other children’s privacy) more seriously!

    4. ferrina*

      Yeah, I hate this too. I like when daycares have closed-circuit cameras so that the administrators can view the classroom. My favorite set-up that I saw kept the recordings available throughout the day, so if there was an incident in the classroom the admin could play it back for the parents at pick-up time. It was really reassuring for the parents, and it was also a good protection for the teachers (so a parent couldn’t accuse them of something that didn’t happen)

    5. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, I wouldn’t be wild about this, either. I assume that it’s only available to parents/approved people, but that’s still a lot of people you don’t know who can see your kid, and what if it’s hacked, or a friend or relative of one of those parents, who is not harmless, gets the password?

    6. BubbleTea*

      I was surprised by that too. I’ve heard of dog daycares with video (though mine doesn’t have it) but not human ones!

    7. Curious*

      I’ve known parents who select a daycare because a livestream is available all day. (And yes, other people’s children can be viewed as well).

    8. Potatoes*

      Typically the livestream is disclosed prior to enrolling the child, so it’s not a “surprise.”

      My daughter’s daycare had a live stream but I logged in to view maybe 1-2x a day. Her current center does not have that but they do send us updates frequently and it’s better in several ways so I’m happy with that.

      1. Waiting on the bus*

        I’ve never heard of updates either! What sort of updates do you receive, if you don’t mind me asking? Did you request them or does your daycare just automatically send updates to parents?

        1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

          When my son was in daycare we had an app, the room teacher would log every diaper change, nap, and feeding. (State law required them to record that information somehow, I didn’t really care) They’d also send pictures of what they were doing once in a while.

          The only actually called me if he needed to be picked up. Seeing their number come up on my phone always was a bad sign.

        2. saskia*

          My friend’s daycare texts her with pics throughout the day and “updates” like whether the kid slept at naptime, ate his snack, cried, had trouble sharing, if he was social that day… all sorts of random info. It seems bizarre to me.

          1. Butterfly Counter*

            It sounds like a TON of work for the daycare employee! Even if you have less than 10 kids, texting about naps, changes, taking cute photos all seems to be taking time away from actually taking care of the kids?

            I suspect they text during downtimes, but as a worker, especially working with kids (who I find personally DRAINING), I’d not want to be on the phone talking about the kids in a free moment.

            1. The OG Sleepless*

              It’s probably easier than dealing with 15 helicopter parents at the end of the day who all want to know exactly when their child ate and slept, but I agree. Sometimes I’m thankful I had young kids before livestreaming, or text alerts, existed. (There was somebody on a message board I frequented years ago who posted more than once that she watched her child’s school classroom livestream all day, and emailed the teacher *anytime* her child went out of frame. Suggestions by other people on the forum that she might want to consider therapy…did not go over well.)

              1. 1LFTW*

                EeeeeeYIKES, that’s a lot!

                In case anyone’s wondering what that kind of parenting looks like ten years on, I once worked with someone who had phone tracking turned on for her college age daughter. The young woman was still required to text when she left her dorm, when she got on the bus, when she got off the bus, when she got to class, when she left class, if she stopped for coffee…

                Needless to say, my coworker was *not* an emotionally healthy person.

                1. allathian*

                  Yeah, she’s absolutely asking for being completely cut out of her daughter’s life once she realizes how wrongheaded the parenting has been. Sadly, it may be that the daughter’s been brainwashed so effectively that she never realizes how abusive her mom is, and I mean abusive.

            2. Ally McBeal*

              I worked in daycare before smartphones became a mainstream thing. We filled out paper reports as we went through our days, noting all the items Saskia mentions above, and gave the reports to the parents. This is especially important when the child is VERY young – if a six-month-old skips a nap and isn’t pooping normally, the parent needs to know that… and I bet technology and parents’ mental health (particularly since the pandemic started, but – please allow me to generalize a bit – we millennials are a chronically anxious bunch compared to our neglectful boomer parents) are the main factors behind a daycare’s decision to text those updates in real time, vs waiting until the end of the day.

              1. Quill*

                Latter millennial here to elder Gen X parents and TBH, I think the expectation of constant access to all aspects of your life at all times doesn’t necessarily help the anxiety. The food, sleep, and elimination records make a lot of sense when you have a pack of infants / toddlers to watch, for medical reasons, but as a teacher’s kid, seeing the roll-out of apps and programs designed to try and get parents in touch with the classroom in real time / throughout the workday made me pretty sure that all of those things (not documentation, but having to update throughout the day) actually detract from the quality of care or instruction, because they’re taking the teacher or daycare worker’s attention away from the kids.

                1. 1LFTW*

                  YES, thank you. When I’m in the classroom, *anything* I’m doing aside from teaching is taking my attention and focus away from my students, which means I’m not teaching.

                  I’m very glad to be working in a low-key community education setting, in a unionized workplace, where this kind of surveillance is explicitly forbidden by our collectively-bargained contract.

            3. Another happy they are not a manager*

              I don’t have kids, and also think this constant monitoring and updating the parents is a lot of work for the undercompensated and hard working day care workers. It also feels like the monitoring and updating options, including texting and webcams, are being done for the optics rather than the kids’ care. Those probably aren’t cheap and having to inform the parents, either via the app or text, depending on both the parents’ preferences and the daycare policy takes time away from spending time with the kids.

              Most parents probably would prefer to have their money going towards their kids’ care and experiences rather than paying for expensive surveillance technology.

              The concerns over the surveillance and privacy issues that have been raised are great. It’s another angle besides the LW’s colleague’s performance issues that are relevant.

            4. NannyGigi*

              I worked at a daycare before they had apps. By state licensing law, all kids under 3 had to have a written daily log filled out.

              The log included:
              • what child ate for AM and PM snack, and lunch (even though the parents provided lunch)
              • every diaper change/potty, as well as indicating if we used diaper cream
              • nap
              • brief note on daily activities (this was not state mandated, it was a center requirement). We would also write notes about any issues or funny things their child did that day

              The center had other requirements for all ages (infant-5 years):
              • written “daily report” with activities done each day. This had to be posted on the classroom bulletin board by pickup time
              • when doing art projects (only open ended art!), we had to take a pic of each child doing their project. We had to print the photos and hang them up with the art projects.
              • sign in/out sheet for the classroom. Write down when child arrived and when they were picked up. when we left the classroom, when we returned to the classroom, or when another teacher switched out, we had to check off that each child was accounted for. Even if someone came in to let the teacher use the bathroom.
              • incident reports for any injury that left a mark – yes, even a red mark. That was a state requirement, but our center also made you write down what you would do to keep kids from getting injured that way again. Some teachers banned their kids from running on sidewalks or on wet grass (seriously).
              • monthly “observations” of each child. “Johnny has been interested in building parking garages for his cars” (something like that, it was 15 years ago)
              • using the observations, we then developed lesson plans (done weekly) for each center in the classroom (science, dramatic play, blocks, etc). This was mostly switching out toys/books.

              There were more, but it was a LOT of work. All for $7.50/hr. I switched to nannying and make $30/hr.

        3. UnicornUnicorn*

          My best friend’s daughter is two and in daycare, and she gets updates on things like how much of her lunch was eaten, occasional photos of activites and any “incident reports” (daughter pushed another kid, other kid pushed back, daughter fell and bumped her head).

        4. Peon*

          My daycare had an app that sent updates (and this was almost a decade ago) for infants; it was stuff that a lot of parents like to know anyhow, to keep on schedule. Diapers, bottles, naps. It tapered off a LOT once the kids were in the “mobile” room and ended when they moved up to the 18mo room. I suspect the tapering was to ease us parents through information withdrawal lol.

        5. AnonAnon*

          My son has been in multiple daycares. I’ve always gotten pictures or updates during the day. Ironically, the daycare that provided the most updates (like diaper changes, what he ate) was the one where I thought the care was the poorest. He is in preschool now and they do a photo dump on an app each day so you can see what your kids were doing during the day. It’s nice, and I like that it means if I hear from daycare during the day it’s actually important and urgent.

          1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

            I suppose if a daycare employee has to log every diaper change in some kind of app system and send messages all the time, they won’t have time to do anything interesting with the children. They are only able to take care of the most essential stuff and send updates.

            1. saskia*

              Having to do that every day for 15+ kids (who aren’t in the hospital/treatment and who don’t have any real need to be ‘charted’) sounds like hell.

            2. allhailtheboi*

              Yeah, this is what care has become in the care home I worked in – anytime the carers had a free moment they were grappling with the ever increasing documentation requirements rather than socialising with the residents. Documentation is SO SO important but I can’t help but feel the balance has gone too far one way.

            3. chocolate muffins*

              Hmmmm, my child’s daycare texts this kind of info in real time (meals, naps, diaper changes) and also sends pictures and videos a few times a week, and it is not at all my sense that the staff are disengaged. The infant room at our daycare has 8 kids and 2 teachers usually, depending on how many of the kids are there. I don’t think taking 10 seconds to update an app for a kid means that they aren’t doing anything else – at least in this daycare they have plenty of time to engage with kids too. My guess is they are doing the updates while kids are doing something else, exploring on their own, or playing with each other, but there is also lots of time in the day for the teachers to play with kids and engage in activities with them.

          2. llama*

            Yes, same thing with pet boarding. Too busy trying to make you feel good rather than actually doing a good job.

        6. Guacamole Bob*

          Much of the time the daycare updates felt silly to me, especially as the kids got older. But with babies and toddlers the log of naps and feeding and diapers could be helpful if you were in the middle of changing a sleep routine or you had a kid who was having trouble with feeding or were in the middle of introducing new foods.

          1. Critical Rolls*

            Yeah, some of this information is actually very helpful for a normal, non-helicopter level of parenting for littler kids. Tiny ones can’t tell you much about how they feel, so eating/sleeping/bathroom behaviors are important to know about, and later there’s potty training!

          2. Potatoes*

            Yes, exactly. I’m not a helicopter parent, but my daughter is autistic and has feeding issues, so it is important for me to know what she ate that day to figure out patterns. As well as napping. She’s had significant sleep issues for 16 months, so knowing if she napped at care or not is essential. But even before she was diagnosed, I would want to know about the eating and sleeping on a regular basis.

        7. Potatoes*

          My daughter is 3 now and began daycare right before she turned 2.
          The kind of updates we got were if she ate food or not (kid struggled/struggles with feeding), napping, bowel movements/diaper changes etc. They’d send us pix after she was picked up.

          Her current center won’t update me unless I specifically ask and that’s maybe 1-2 texts every few days (usually it’s me asking to take pix of her outfit, they all go crazy over how she dresses everyday lol). They will send a sheet home daily with details on food, sleep, playing, diaper’s etc

    9. Saturday night fever*

      I came to the comments to see if anyone else picked up on this and I’m relieved that I’m not the only one. I would think that the liablity issues that this could present are crazy. I do believe the mother isn’t using this resource as it is intended, which is part of the issue but the fact that there is access to it in the first place is an issue too.

    10. Lyngend Canada*

      As a retail worker, there are lots of places that do have constant monitoring. I do think it would be important for working with you children or special needs children, who may not be able to speak up for themselves (to young to talk clearly or have issues with speech). Plus as a protection for the workers against false claims by parents. And help prevent incorrect assumptions from any investigations. (think kid falls but in a way injuries look like a push. Camera can show that no body was in pushing distance the kid just tripped over their own feet. But landed in a way that sprained/broke their wrist)

    11. Grogu's Mom*

      I’m a bit surprised by some of the comments and wanted to provide my perspective as a current parent at a livestream daycare. Livestreams are very, very normal in the major metropolitan area where I’m located and are one indicator of a high-quality daycare, along with a robust app that reports on the kids’ activities including lots of photos and videos. This young woman in the letter is taking it to an extreme by watching all day every day, and that’s not acceptable (at least not for more than the first couple days the kid is at a new daycare), but it is totally normal from my perspective for this to exist and for parents to be checking in briefly a few times a day.

      The livefeeds at my daughter’s daycare are only available to parents of kids who are actually checked into that particular classroom at that time. We signed in through the app, the feed is not high enough quality that there are any privacy concerns where you’d be able to identify children unless you already knew them in person, there is no sound, and the diaper-changing/toileting areas are blacked out. When we switched to a livestream daycare, it actually significantly increased my ability to concentrate on my work, because I know for sure 100% that they are in good hands, and if I ever have a moment where I want to confirm that, I can just pick up my phone rather than losing sleep (or work time) over it. I also know exactly what my daughter has accomplished during the day and what she is working on, so I can reinforce those skills at home. And it’s easy peasy to message the teachers quickly and vice versa to say we’re picking up early today, or Grogu needs to remember her swimsuit tomorrow for water play. No more hoping your spouse remembers to pass along messages or trying to ask questions at pick-up when the relevant teacher’s shift ended hours ago. My mental burden is really reduced, which is something we all need as parents these days!

      The updates like feeding/toileting are done on tablets, usually one teacher performs the action while the other records the results. It takes maybe 3-4 clicks to record “Grogu went pee in the toilet” or “ate all of her yogurt and peaches” and photos/videos of the curricular activities are pushed out to all the class at once during naptime or whenever they have a moment during the day. At a fully-staffed daycare, there are typically at least 2-4 teachers/administrators in the room at any given time, and it doesn’t necessarily take all of them to watch the kids during big blocks of time when they are napping, eating, or during free play at the start and end when class sizes are smaller. They still have plenty of time to take breaks, meet with the curriculum director or principal, and all the other tasks that teachers perform. I’m a former teacher myself (upper elementary) and do get the concern about not wanting to be on camera all day, but with a kid too young to tell us if something is not right, it’s kind of just part of the deal.

      1. allathian*

        Thanks for writing, it sounds like your daughter’s daycare has enough staff to handle the monitoring while still being able to engage with the kids.

    12. MCMonkeyBean*

      I mean, presumably everyone who signed up for this particular daycare was aware of the livestream and many of them probably picked the daycare for that reason. It’s not like they send the link to only some of the parents and keep it a secret from the rest of them!

    13. Wakehf*

      I was comming here to comment on this aspect. She’s essentially broadcasting her child’s (and the children of others) lives to anyone who walks by her desk. This seems like a major privacy breach for all of the kids and teachers at the daycare. Also, as a former working parent, the whole point of daycare was that I didn’t have to monitor my child while I was at work. Skilled professionals were taking care of her (and I suspect doing a better job of providing fun and interesting things to do than I would at home). Maybe one question you could ask is around what the daycare’s expectations are about how parents will use the feed. Having it on all the time where people who have no connection to the children can view it seems very iffy to me (but I wouldn’t choose a daycare that did this, they are essentially filming children all day long and broadcasting that video to anyone who can find the stream. I highly doubt a daycare is investing in any security for the stream or the content and is relying on obscurity and no one else being interested.)

  3. Janice*

    Is it normal to have a daycare livestream? I have never heard of that before! (Animal livestreams sure, but human?)

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      It is not strange, but it is also not universal. Larger daycare centers are much more likely to have it than smaller ones (and I can’t imagine many in-home daycares have them). It gives parents an opportunity to observe their kids, and a feeling of safety for many, I imagine. Personally, it’s not something I feel a need for with my son’s daycare. I like unplugging when he’s there!

    2. Miss Muffet*

      My daughter’s first daycare had it and i would pop in on it occasionally to see if i could spot her – these were the days before really universal high-speed internet so I couldn’t have kept it open all day even at work but it was nice. I couldn’t always see everything but every so often she’d come across the view. It wasn’t so much anxiety as just fun to see – oh there she is with her friends.

      I know this person may not be just starting out, but they are new to the parenthood-work balance. I always was grateful for coaches or people informally in that role that gave me a heads up when i was first starting about the optics of things. I was just clueless. Like, don’t read the newspaper at your desk, or find a more professional looking bag for your commute. It might be a bit awkward or embarrassing in the moment but I’d like to think she’d be grateful for the heads up from someone not-her-manager on things that can impact her performance appraisals.

  4. Dasein9 (he/him)*

    No wonder daycare’s so hard to find–all-day surveillance seems like a lot to ask people to put up with, especially at low pay!

    (Yes, I know there is a need to make sure the daycare is not abusive, but this seems like overkill.)

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      Even in terms of making sure of no abuse, I don’t think it needs to be a live stream. You can have recordings available if you so choose and (if abuse is suspected) the proper folks can review them.

    2. Susan Calvin*

      imo it’s *very* overkill, especially because you have absolutely no control over who else is watching your kid all day! Sure, maybe you’ve met all the other parents and have a reasonable level of trust in them, but what’s stopping them from passing on the credentials to grandparents, aunts and uncles, and whoever else?

      1. CheesePlease*

        nothing!! my MIL has the password for my niece’s daycare app. Because she likes seeing pictures!

        Thankfully my daycare is low tech. There are security cameras at exits / entrances to the building but not in the classroom, and there is no app where they take pictures.

    3. Lily Potter*

      Totally with you here. Camera oversight has killed some good things in our world. No way in hell would I work somewhere where I’d be subject to 24/7 camera monitoring by multitudes of people. On another front, I have a friend who used to do in-home pet care (live in other people’s homes while they’re away) and no longer will do that because she wonders now where the cameras are stashed.

    4. Lisa*

      Livestreaming is a step too far I think, but by having cameras if a worker is falsely accused of something, they now have video evidence of what really happened.

  5. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

    I have so much sympathy for this woman, because just this morning I was fielding messages and phone calls from one child’s school about a health concern that ended up with Child needing to be picked up early, and luckily my husband was able to do it.

    But you cannot watch a livestream of your child’s daycare and still get anything meaningful done at work. Replace ‘livestream of daycare’ with ‘livestream of sportsball event’ or ‘YouTube comedian’ or ‘TV show’ and you have the root of the problem: Our brains can’t watch one thing and also do something else. (Many of us can listen to something while doing work, but not watch something.)

    Whether OP should say something to this woman’s boss depends on factors we don’t know from the letter, but certainly as a coach, you should tell her that the optics are bad, it’s part of what’s holding her back, and she needs to stop.

    Related: I had this same conversation with both of my high-school aged interns earlier this year when I told them they are not permitted to have their cell phones streaming a YouTuber while they’re supposed to be doing work for me because then I get work that’s MORE error-prone than otherwise it would be and everyone has to spend a lot of time re-doing things.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Yes on listening versus watching. I will sometimes put on a sportsball game at work. This works well with baseball, as there is a lot of background nothing happening, and the announcers’ tone of voice will tell you when that changes. So it is possible to have it as background noise, until it is foreground noise for a few minutes, then return to the background.

      1. londonedit*

        Yep…I had the radio commentary on for pretty much all of the women’s World Cup games that were within my working hours and that was fine, just background noise until something interesting happens. England games, though? Absolutely no work done during those at all. But that’s a rare occurrence, a tournament where matches are happening in the morning my time. And my work is generally pretty damn good and I could manage my workload so that I could be distracted for a couple of hours on a handful of days (and a couple more hours after the semi-final so I could have a lie down). I’m not watching football or any other sort of online distraction 7 hours a day when I should be working.

      2. CTT*

        I put on soccer games all weekend for the same reason. Lots of long stretches where nothing happens and good white noise-esque atmosphere. (And I would think the daycare livestream would be the opposite of white noise!)

    2. T.N.H.*

      I watch TV while working all the time and don’t see my output suffer (this is paid by project, not hour, so no issues there). Some people really can do this but it sounds like she isn’t one of them. I would address the optics issue but I’m not sure saying “no one can do this” is useful or accurate.

      1. Susan Calvin*

        yeah… the analogy holds (posted the same thing below, because I type slowly I guess), but that just means it has to be handled similarly – which in most jobs would mean “only if it’s demonstrably not a problem” but she’s really not doing well on that front.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        ADHD/Long COVID brain – podcasts were working fine for helping me concentrate before the long covid, but tv shows work way better now. They help me stay awake and focused. But if my performance was suffering noticeably, I acknowledge that would be a hard sell.

      3. Irish Teacher*

        I think watching a daycare stream might be different from TV anyway as you are more invested. I agree it’s probably better to avoid getting into “you can’t do that efficiently” though.

        1. Anon for this*

          Well, except daycare streams are PHENOMENALLY BORING. I used to watch while pumping, and it was pretty much like, babies sit around. Oh look, one moved. Some are napping. Five minutes pass. One picked up a toy!

      4. AngryOctopus*

        Yeah, if I WFH, I usually run MST3K episodes on Tubi. I’m not watching them, but they do provide welcome background noise, which I need to concentrate. But I can’t really do music or a podcast because I pay too much attention to them! All this to say, were she streaming daycare all day and not having any performance issues at all–not a problem, carry on. But the livestream, her commenting on it (so watching it, not just glancing), and past demonstrated work issues–this is definitely an issue. I’m not 100% sure how I feel about OP reporting it, BUT I do think she has an in because of the ‘coach’ aspect of their relationship. She can frame it as a kindness alerting this woman to the optics (“hey, you having a daycare livestream up all the time, and commenting on it, appears to be a distraction from your work. I would advise only checking the livestream a couple times a day, when you have a short break” or something).

      5. Bluebird*

        I totally can have certain TV shows on while I work but not listen to certain things. There’s not a real rhyme or reason to it though, completely dependent on the individual show/movie or podcast/book. The only thing I can say for sure is anything I’ve seen or listened to previously generally works to work to, even if it didn’t the first time, but still not always.

      6. Las Vegas*

        Same same. I HAVE to have background noise. I usually keep on QVC or podcast-style Youtube channels where there’s not much to look at, just the person talking. If I don’t, I’ll start reading something and get REALLY distracted.

      7. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah, just having it open on a second monitor to me doesn’t seem like it should inherently be a problem, but if she is having noticeable work issues then it’s worth addressing as potentially part of the problem.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      I often have music or YouTube playing in the background but I intentionally choose things I know I won’t listen to very closely and don’t need to actually see to mostly understand (so basically a podcast). The work I do involved a lot of reading and looking at photographs and I can’t do it and watch something at the same time. If it turns out to be something I actually want to watch, I save it for the evening.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yes I can never understand people who can watch the whole season of a new show at work. I can listen to a podcast because it’s basically blah blah PEOPLE USED TO TAKE HEROIN FOR SORE THROATS and I can post online because I am switching between two ‘ windows ‘ quickly.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          yeah, I wouldn’t do that because I’d actually want to see it. I watch stuff I either have seen before or that has a pretty predictable outcome and a lot of narration (true crime, often).

        2. Quill*

          Yeah, I can do podcasts because the audio is actually engineered to stand alone and be comprehensible. I can do narrative podcasts while doing data entry or calculations (because copy / paste or enter numbers does not engage the language brain) but not while writing anything.

    4. DEJ*

      I’ve tried music, podcasts and white/brown/colors of the rainbow noise, but I’ve found that what works best for me for background noise are shows like Law and Order or NCIS. They have a procedural pattern – a crime is committed, they are trying to figure out who committed the crime, they catch the bad guy, courtroom drama. So if your brain tunes out and back in, combined with occasional glances at the images of familiar characters, you have a general idea what’s going on. And I agree with what others have said about sportsball – the announcers voice tells you when you really need to pay attention.

      1. kiki*

        I’ve found that watching re-runs of old shows I’ve seen a million times works well for me. I think in part because I tend towards being anxious, so the old tv shows offer a lot of comfort that neutralizes my anxious, distracting thoughts and my 200th rewatch of Gilmore Girls absorbs less than 1% of my brain activity.

        But any sort of new show, or even a podcast, completely distracts me.

        It’s very individual and specific what works well for people, so it’s hard to make any sort of hard and fast rule. But I think in general, the optics of watching TV while you work are not great, so you have to do very good work to overcome the optics.

      2. noncommittal pseudonym*

        This. I almost always have Law and Order on in the background if I’m working at home. I’ve seen all of them so many times that it just becomes reassuring background noise.

    5. Sunflower*

      Even moreso than sports or YouTube- I’d imagine it’s way easier to tune out other media when you need to, but watching your own kid has to be really difficult to look away from if the stream is there! I put on YouTube in the background while working sometimes (video essays and commentary, not super visual) but that’s different than remotely childwatching.

      If her kid is at daycare, I don’t see how whatever benefits the livestream offers outweighs a) the lack of healthy separation/letting go, b) the panopticon for daycare workers, and c) neglect of your own job.

      1. Em*

        Lol I was just about to write “come on down to Panopticon Daycare, where we monitor your child’s needs 24/7” but thought to ctrl+f in case someone beat me to the punch. It is unhealthy from the parent perspective to allow remote monitoring of their kid, and from the employee perspective- talk about invasive to livestream their workplace. These people certainly don’t get paid enough to deal with that.

    6. Antilles*

      Our brains can’t watch one thing and also do something else. (Many of us can listen to something while doing work, but not watch something.)
      Depends on how you’re defining ‘watching’. Plenty of workplaces regularly have a TV on in the corner and people work right alongside it. And the viewership numbers during the pandemic for “comfort shows” (Friends, The Office, etc) would imply pretty strongly that there were a lot of WFH employees who were streaming those things while working.

      The key is just that you have to be able to treat it as basically background noise. The kind of thing where you’ll glance up every now and then, maybe pay attention for a minute if something particularly interesting is happening, but that’s it before you’re back to doing your job.

      1. edda ed*

        If it’s treated as background noise, that’s not watching. The phrase is “watching TV” because that’s how TV programming was intended to be consumed, but leaving it on for a comforting noise is also a common use. I do wonder about what some of the other comments here mean, when they use the word “watching” in this context, because some of them make sense to me in the background noise sense, but if they mean eyeballs pointed at the TV screen, the comments make less sense to me.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          I guess but I have never in my life watched TV without doing at least one other thing simultaneously (crossword, coloring, writing, whatever). I still don’t miss what’s happening on the show. I think that’s true for a lot of people.

          1. Quill*

            I used to be able to do that, but without commercials (and with my newfound appreciation of foreign language tv) it no longer works great if I have to see what I’m doing and the screen at the same time.

            I managed to embroider through the whole first season of The Witcher (especially during scenes that were already visually ambiguous) but I can’t even knit if I have to do subtitles.

    7. Ann*

      Yeah. It sounds like she’s having a really hard time adjusting to being a working mom. I feel for her, because I had a long phase in my life when working with kids in day care seriously messed up my mental health.
      But there must be more constructive ways to cope with this than watching the livestream all day. Maybe she needs to go part-time for a while if her boss is open to it. Maybe she can arrange to WFH regularly and drop off/pick up the kids at day care earlier – that could be an extra two hours a day with them, if her commute is an hour each way. Maybe she needs a better day care if she feels this one can’t be trusted unless she’s watching them (I know, I know, finding a day care at all is so hard…)

    8. Impending Heat Dome*

      I work with copy and I also design images. I can listen to words when I’m working with images, but not when I’m working with copy. Too much conflict in the ol’ language center.

    9. lilsheba*

      I always have a movie or tv show or youtube going while I work and it works out fine for me, I get all my work done.

  6. Richard Hershberger*

    I had kids in daycare in the not-too-distant past. Constant streaming of what goes on there strikes me as a really terrible idea. I can see having it recorded, so if anything untoward arises we can go back and find out what happened, but having it running constantly in an invitation not only to getting distracted from your job, but to paranoia. If there is some specific reason to be concerned about this daycare situation, recognizing that it might be the least bad arrangement available, I guess I can see it. But my advice to coworker, if there is a tactful way to give it, would be to turn the stream off and forget it exists until such time as the need arises.

    1. HonorBox*

      Indeed. I’d have hated to have my children’s daycare livestreamed. I think it would cause too much distraction. And if you want to be sure you can watch your child all day, every day, it seems like there are other ways to make that happen. I know that doesn’t work well for everyone of course, but if you can’t trust your daycare, you may need to rethink your setup.

      1. Anon for this*

        Sometimes they are the only available place. So it’s either, that daycare, or lose your job and stay at home. Sometimes watching streams helps you pick a side. Or, search desperately for something else that isn’t worse, and yet has availability on short notice.

    2. Margaret Cavendish*

      I’m not really prone to paranoia, but I would find it hugely distracting. If my kid were to trip and fall – which is a totally normal thing that happens a dozen times a day – I would absolutely be watching to make sure she’s okay. Or if she can’t find her favourite toy, and *I* can see where it is, I would be calling out “hot and cold” in my mind until she finds it. Or look, they’re making hand prints on paper plates, isn’t that cute? I can’t wait to see her craft when I pick her up this afternoon!

      Basically, 99.99% of the time things will be happening completely as they should be, and I would normally just go to work and let them happen without thinking about it. But if I can see it happening? It’s going to be impossible to look away, regardless of how much I trust the day care.

  7. WantonSeedStitch*

    I 100% agree with Alison’s answer. Right now, I’m working (at home) and my son is at daycare. This daycare does not have a livestream. Three days a week when he’s there, it’s SO MUCH easier to unplug from parenting while I work, and I find it incredibly freeing. Two days a week, he’s here at home while my husband cares for him. That’s definitely harder: it’s not easy to tune out when you can hear either kid or other parent struggling with something. In addition to what Alison says, I might gently suggest to this coworker/mentee that she might be surprised at how much of a lift it is from the mental load to simply LET SOMEONE ELSE TAKE CARE OF THE KID, without keeping tabs. When you have the physical separation of daycare that makes it so much easier to do that, it’s good to take advantage of it. She might find she’s a lot happier and less anxious if she turns off the livestream at work.

  8. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I’m very twitchy about this employee!

    Plenty of working parents are productive during the work day, including myself. Watching the daycare live feed all day is NOT TYPICAL (nor healthy but that’s not a work-related issue)! She shouldn’t get any wiggle room on this bad habit because she’s a working mom so I hope that’s not her justification.

    I don’t see her habit as being any different from playing solitaire or watching Netflix or reading a hardcopy newspaper all day long. There’s no way to be a high performer if you have a constant distraction in your field of vision.

    All of that is probably too harsh to say to her, but it’s the truth.

    1. ferrina*

      I have a lot of sympathy, but she needs to stop.

      It’s hard, especially if the kid is pre-verbal or shy. But it’s clearly damaging her work. Part of being a working parent is compartmentalizing so you aren’t constantly thinking about the kid while you’re supposed to be working.

    2. Thatoneoverthere*

      I was going to post something similar that its not healthy for her to be doing this. I don’t want to speculate but it seems like she may have some mental health struggles.

    3. Smithy*

      I think for the OP – who’s in the role of a coach but not a manager, this is where the word “optics” really helps.

      Because the reality is that a lot of what people have up in their tertiary windows is more nuanced from office to office, and person to person. This person appears very distracted by the daycare stream and childcare in general, but someone else could have their petcam up in a similar way and have it not be a distraction to them or anyone else who walks by. One person uses YouTube all day to listen to music or ambient noise channels that attract no attention, and someone else is listening to or even watching content that’s perceived far differently. One person reads “spicy content” on their Kindle during lunch, but another person reads the same material – but in book form where their coworkers have the chance of seeing the book binding.

      As a nonmanager, and in a space to more mentor and guide – the word optics I think is a great one to explain when they’re spending workplace capital. Maybe it’ll get them into trouble tomorrow, maybe not – but it’s not helping them grow their professional reputation and may be costing them capital they’d want to use elsewhere. It also avoids pitfalls of whether or not something is allowed or unallowed.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        That’s literally not optics, though. She’s apparently legitimately distracted by the livestream. If someone has their petstream or solitaire or whatever up but is not letting it disrupt their work, then the problem isn’t that the daycare livestream looks less professional, it’s that she actually is allowing it to be a bigger time-suck than everyone else’s time-sucks.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          Yes, but I think the point here is that OP isn’t this woman’s manager, so doesn’t really have standing to comment on her work output. What she DOES have standing to do, as a coach, is tell her that the optics of having this livestream up and commenting on it, is bad optics for how she’s doing her job. OP doesn’t have a work reason to be delving into this woman’s productivity (no matter what she already knows about it), but she can comment on “since I was assigned to be your job coach, this activity pings my radar in a negative way, and I think you should know”.

          1. Smithy*

            That’s exactly it.

            There are inevitably a few coworkers that I don’t feel do a good job (or openly know don’t do a good job), and it’s not uncommon for me to have assumptions about why. But it’s not the same as if I were their manager.

            I also think that while the assumption that this woman is being distracted by the daycare live stream is likely correct, at least in part – when you’re not their manager it’s unfair to assume you know the entire story. What the OP does know is that it’s visibly obvious in the office and it’s not contributing to a positive perception.

            The flip side of this are people who do various activities like using fidget spinners, drawing or working on handcrafts while in a meeting – but are actively listening and participating. For some workplaces, those are bad optics but can be countered with a good product. When it’s also paired with a poor work product, maybe it’s the drawing (or livestreaming), – maybe it’s another issue, but that’s when the bad optics start to really add up.

    4. Van Wilder*

      Agreed. I’m so empathetic. When I first went back to work after having my babies, I had days when they did not leave my thoughts all day. It was so hard to be away from them. But I had other days where I was able to focus on work and my kids weren’t on my mind every second of the day. I assume I was more productive on those days.

      It doesn’t seem like this employee is even giving herself the chance to have productive days.

      1. All Het Up About It*

        It doesn’t seem like this employee is even giving herself the chance to have productive days.

        That’s a really good way to look at it. It seems like she didn’t even try to work when she was working from home with her daughter. Like, would I expect her to be less productive that day, absolutely? But to just not do anything… Wut? Then added on top of it, she’s apparently actively not paying attention to her work AT work and it seems to be by choice. I get that being a working mother is incredibly difficult, but there are plenty of other mothers who handle it much better than this individual seems to do.

        1. Van Wilder*

          Yes – the WFH part is wackadoo! And then to admit that she attempted no work instead of just saying she was clearing her inbox or something. I’m pretty surprised that she still in reasonably good standing.

    5. Csethiro Ceredin*

      Given that she was not working at all when ‘working from home’ 30% of her time for a few months, got spoken to about that, and still seems upset she is not being promoted, I think this employee’s expectations are not realistic in general.

  9. Purpleshark*

    I had a coworker who did this. Her livestream was up all day but it was in the background and she would only tune in when she had a moment to glance. Her work never suffered and in fact, was a superperfomer. It really sounds like this mom is not all in for work and would rather be a SAHM.

    1. NothingIsLittle*

      I did this, but with the kitten academy livestream on YouTube when I worked in a state’s legal office. I was getting over 500 calls a day to scream at me and it was much easier to stay zen while watching kittens! That said, watching the livestream actually improved my performance and given that everyone else was losing their minds over the issue causing the calls, it was not a problem even in optics.

  10. Justin*

    I feel for her but it would probably work better if, like my own kid’s daycare, they just sent pics throughout the day. She clearly can’t get anything done as it is.

    It would be one thing if she didn’t have childcare and was juggling that (which was the case before), but….

  11. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    I get being a working mom is tough. But you really have to separate the two. At work, you need to be Jane, not Mom. Then at home, you are Mom, not Jane. Do not cross the streams.

    With all kinds of caveats like yeah if the kids are sick, you might have to figure something out, or the school closes unexpectedly. Even an ocassional check in on the daycare stream is okay at like lunch or a couple minutes here and there. But all day with running commentary – bad. All day with running commentary while you are behind on your work and performance issues have been raised — really really bad.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Don’t cross the streams!

      (Except when Gozer)

      But seriously, yes. She’s being paid to do a job during those hours and not be a full time parent. One cannot be in two places at once.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      Don’t cross the streams—exactly! This is what she is paying for day care for. So that she can go to work and focus on her job.

  12. Susan Calvin*

    I don’t want to derail, but to be honest, I find the concept of a daycare livestream just… incredibly weird. In a very “not surprised, just disappointed” sort of way – running roughshod over the privacy of children seems to be the done thing for most people on social media anyways, but this is on another level!

    From a purely professional POV, if someone had Netflix, or sportsball, or anything else non-work-related continuously open, how would that be handled? I’d argue this is the same, because if there was anything important, like an emergency, presumably the daycare would still call or notify her otherwise – watching this is not, in fact, her Parently Duty, so she shouldn’t get a pass.

    1. anononon*

      From a purely professional POV, if someone had Netflix, or sportsball, or anything else non-work-related continuously open, how would that be handled?

      I guess it would depend on whether the person was distracted or not. I know lots of folk who have visual media on all day while they’re working. It’s not ‘the daycare livestream’ that is the issue here. It’s the ‘getting distracted by whatever stuff is playing on your computer/phone and not doing your job’ that is the problem.

      1. Susan Calvin*

        Yes, I meant that as an honest question to OP basically, because I agree – and framing it from that perspective takes the guilt about backstabbing a fellow working parent out of it, I think.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          I think there’s probably something more inherently distracting about a livestream of your child, and it’s hard to put that 100% on par with something like watching a fictional TV show. I think that framing helps, but I don’t think it’s possible to completely lose the idea that it is the content that’s a problem.

          1. Anon for this*

            I love my kids but the daycare livestreams I saw have been crushingly boring. I personally would not be distracted by them because nothing happens. But this person seems to be distracted in general.

    2. Thatoneoverthere*

      I agree I wouldnt want my kid livestreamed to others devices. I don’t care if that persons kid is my daycare class. I don’t know them and what intentions they are viewing the footage with. Or sees it in the background.

  13. HonorBox*

    As I was reading Alison’s response, I found myself wondering what is addressed in the final paragraph. As a coach, whether that’s technical or managerial, it might be something that needs to be brought to her manager. Not in a “run to tell mom” way, but in a way that shows empathy and concern. You’ve noticed something and want to ensure your coworker is on the right path, especially if previous performance is showing up in lack of advancement, both in position and pay. I’d like to know this as a manager, I know, and coming from someone who is seen as a coach, it would probably land better. It might make sense to note something to your coworker and then discuss with your boss at some point that again doesn’t make it sound like you’re trying to create an issue.

    1. Snow Globe*

      I tend to agree with this, maybe because at my employer, someone who is coaching a junior employee would definitely be expected to have this kind of discussion with the manager. Maybe the expectation is different where the LW works, but…if the manager ever does come by and sees the coworker watching the livestream, if the manager asks the LW if this happens all the time, how will the manager react if the LW says “yep, all day, every day”? I can imagine that blowing back on the LW

  14. librarianmom*

    Since she seems troubled by her lack of progress, I might start out the conversation about how to improve her status so that she can get raises/promoted —- meeting deadlines, accuracy in her work, gaining new skills, etc. —- and drop the problem of the optics of livestreaming into that discussion. Sort of mix in positive actions she can take with that caution.

    1. Lozi*

      I agree! I think the focus needs to be on the measurable impacts of the job before the optics. It will be an easier pill to swallow, and I imagyshes less likely to feel attacked/defensive, if it’s done within a framework that is “how to accomplish what you want” versus “this looks bad.”

  15. Hiring Mgr*

    I think it’s ok to say something casually but I certainly wouldn’t say anything to their mgr – that strikes me as too much

    1. ferrina*

      I think that as a coach, LW has an obligation to talk to Jane. But I agree that saying something to the manager feels like too much. I suspect the daycare stream on its own wouldn’t be an issue if Jane was a high performer (another commenter mentions that they work with a high performer who does this). Jane already has other issues that the manager can and should address- I’d hate for the daycare stream to be the last straw.

  16. Czhorat*

    I’m with Allison on this, in that the OP should likely say something. As a more senior employee – in time and presumably standing, even if not hierarchically – there IS always a measure of mentoring which can include workplace norms as well as the technical/procedural parts of the job. More importantly, the OP appears to be empathic and kind; if she approaches it with the employee the way she’s approaching it with us then it’s more likely to be received well, or at least open a reasonable conversation as to how things could be better.

    The distracted employee deserves to know if the’s getting herself into hot water as well as what she needs to change to get onto the right track for promotions, raises, other advancement. Hopefully this could be part of what turns this chapter of her career around.

  17. BellyButton*

    OK, but how does everyone feel about doggy day care live stream?? ;) When my dog is at daycare I will log in and glance at it from time to time. Because DOGGIES!

    1. saskia*

      Children are people, not pets. There are no laws governing a dog’s right to privacy. I’d be more concerned about the workers taking care of the dogs if they’re featured on the livestream. If they’re not, then of course, live video feed of dogs playing sounds very fun.

      1. BellyButton*

        Please notice *winky face* to indicate this was just a silly post because of everyone’s dislike of live streaming the day care.

        1. edda ed*

          I know you brought it up to lighten the mood, but people are bringing up some legitimate concerns that factor into that dislike. It’s fun to consider doggy daycare livestreams, but it’s not particularly relevant to the discussion at hand.

          At least, unless the distraction of watching the doggy daycare livestream is also causing an employee’s work to suffer drastically. Then there’s a commonality with the letter. But that’s not why commenters are concerned about a (human) daycare livestream

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Privacy standpoint? Not an issue.

      Distraction standpoint? I would still not have it up all day. (I have cats and there is no point to having a livestream of them, what, sleeping for 18 hours, but you know what I mean)

    3. bark*

      Sounds more obnoxious and definitely way more optional than watching your human child. I’d shut that down before I’d shut down watching your own child.

      Because dogs.

      You asked.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      I think it is different because you are less likely to be so focussed on it. I mean, you are probably watching it because DOGGIES and not because you want to be sure your dog is being cared for properly, is happy, etc. I’m sure you are concerned about all those things but you probably aren’t watching with the same degree of concern somebody would with a child. I am sure if I were a parent and I saw my child crying on a daycare livestream or saw a member of staff telling the child off or saw my child misbehaving or falling and hurting themself, that would be on my mind for the rest of the day and I’d be thinking, “I must remember to check they aren’t hurt when I collect them” or “should I apologise to that member of staff whose hair my child pulled?” I realise parents worry about their kids one way or another, but seeing every little problem and being unable to deal with it in the moment seems distracting in a way that watching doggies (or TV or soccer matches) wouldn’t necessarily be.

    5. Blarg*

      That’s actually what I thought this post was going to be about based on the headline, because it didn’t occur to me that it might be human daycare that has constant live streaming, for all the reasons people here have mentioned. Have mixed feelings about streaming for pups, too, but mostly for the staff and the just continuous need to be performative, which seems exhausting at an already loud, chaotic job.

  18. 123*

    Honestly she sounds like a really bad employee and that’s why she isn’t getting any promotions. I cannot fathom admiting I spent 30% of my time doing absolutely nothing at home while my coworkers are actually doing the work and I’m being paid.

    1. Sally Rhubarb*

      I’ve definitely had slow days in the office and at home and maybe I spent more time than I should have reading news articles or scrolling through Reddit, but I’d never openly admit it. Self preservation!

      (I will caveat this with on those days, there literally was no work, not that I was letting tasks pile up)

    2. Hiring Mgr*

      Well, presumably she’s not saying that as a good thing – just that she’s overwhelmed w/the child care and work tandem.

      If employees are honest, it can be easier to work with them on fixing issues

  19. Keymaster of Gozer*

    I’d definitely have a polite and one to one chat with her and say something like ‘the optics of you watching a livestream all day while your work is suffering are not good’. Normally I hate using the ‘optics’ word but in this case you’d be being a good mentor to use it.

    I’m not a parent nor am ever going to be one so the whole childcare side I’ll leave up to the more experienced! From a managerial perspective I’d be seriously unhappy with a staff member who isn’t doing their job and isn’t showing any signs of improving. If I had a seriously underperforming member of staff and found they were watching a livestream all day…

    ..well I’d be blocking that site on our network for starters.

  20. Poison I.V. drip*

    I mean, sometimes I have a livestream of kittens playing because it’s soothing. But it’s like background noise, I’m not actively watching it every minute.

    1. amoeba*

      Yeah, I feel like it’s different as she’s obviously really invested and interested in what’s happening in the livestream. Just having a cute animal thing that you glance at occasionally seems much less invested for most people…

      1. Elsewise*

        You know, I’ve occasionally done a kitten livestream or an aquarium livestream and not found them too distracting. But a question up above made me realize that if it was doggie daycare that my dog was in, I’d probably be pretty distracted.

    2. aebhel*

      Yeah, I’m kind of put off by the whole panopticon thing of having kids constantly on-camera and streaming live, but aside from that (and the optics) it would be different if she was just using it for background noise instead of actively watching it when she’s supposed to be doing work.

    3. Sunflower*

      There’s no way you’re as compelled to pay attention to the kittens as you would be with your own kid, though, so the amount of distraction isn’t comparable.

      Plus I’d assume anyone who would want to watch their own daycare livestreamed in the first place isn’t going to be capable of having a healthy detachment from it. The healthy detachment would be not having it on at all.

  21. kiki*

    I think one thing to consider before bringing the concern about the daycare livestream to mentee is whether or not watching any sort of livestream or video for hours at a time would be seen as unprofessional in your office. If so, that actually makes the conversation a bit easier and LW can focus on, “watching anything personal all day is going to make you seem unprofessional. Especially if you’re having performance issues, it makes you come across as unengaged in your job.”

    But I know there are some offices where people do have the game on their second monitor or folks watch Netflix as they work. If that’s the case, the conversation may be a bit trickier (why is Shrek 2 okay but not a daycare livestream?)

    1. Czhorat*

      I think that there are a couple of points, which other commenters have touched on:

      1) The employee’s work is not good. When you’re not meeting expectations everything gets looked at differently, and you get much less slack. If you’re watching Shrek 2 but all of your work is done on time and to a high standard then nobody cares. If you’re watching Friends reruns and your work is behind schedule that’s going to be an issue.

      2) The employee is obviously very much engaged and invested in the livestream because it’s her kid, in a way that someone rewatching The Princess Bride for the 27th time probably won’t be. You can’t engage with two things at the same time; during work hours it’s reasonable to expect the employee to engage with work.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      FWIW, I can’t imagine any office I’ve ever worked that would be okay with a livestream or Netflix going on all day.

      1. kiki*

        I don’t think it’s common, but I had a friend whose job was very monotonous and didn’t require much mental effort, so having tv or movies on was common for their office. It’s not something I’ve seen a lot, but it is a thing some places.

        1. Blarg*

          Years and years ago (thankfully), I covered weekends and evenings on a hotline. Ten hour shifts on a Sunday alone in the office when you may get only 3 or 5 calls was exhausting in its own way. This was early aughts, and our offices were in the middle of the building (no windows) and couldn’t pick up radio. And the county blocked anything that played video or audio. Now you could just download a bunch of stuff to your phone to last a shift, but that job was just beyond hard. Hours of literally nothing, by yourself in a cavernous county office building, punctuated by the occasional emergency.

      2. Guacamole Bob*

        You’ve never worked in an office in the DC metro area when there was a newborn panda at the national zoo. :)

      3. H3llifIknow*

        That was one of my first thoughts! I work as a fed contractor with a gov. laptop and ALL streaming is blocked. Netflix, YouTube, etc… because 1) Risk of viruses 2) We’re being paid to work and 3) Uh… bandwidth issues! At the beginning of the pandemic SO MANY people were WFH and our networks/VPN would crash constantly. Something had to give.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, this. I have to say, though, that my employer doesn’t really care what I do during my work hours as long as my actual work gets done to standard. But livestreaming anything would be a bandwidth issue, even if they did upgrade our VPN twice during the pandemic.

  22. Jiminy Cricket*

    I know this is a work advice column, but if it were a personal advice column, it would feel important to add: This is not healthy! It is doing nothing good for your coworker’s mental health to be half in one place, half in another all day long. It’s so important to be able to drop your kid off and feel confident that they will be 100% fine until pick up time, and if they’re not, there are competent adults to help them. Let someone else fret over whether she’s eating her snack.

    1. Generic Name*

      I agree. As I mentioned below, I really do sympathize with the coworker. My child was in middle school at the start of the pandemic, so I had a very different experience. I can imagine that it must feel very distressing to be around your children 24/7 for the first 2-3 years of their life and then suddenly not. I had a friend who had a baby during the pandemic and at 9 months old the doctor asked what their reaction was to being held by strangers (to them) my friend was like “…..she hasn’t even SEEN a stranger her whole life”. The point being that the pandemic fundamentally changed many aspects of parenting/child development.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      I’m not a parent, but I think I would find it extremely frustrating to see all my hypothetical child’s problems in real time but be unable to do anything about it. “She fell. Can’t the staff see she’s just fallen? Why aren’t they checking she hasn’t hurt herself? Oh, good, somebody’s coming over to do it now. Should I call and ask them is she all right?” (I mean, that’s probably a bit of an exaggeration, but I do think I’d find it difficult to see stuff happen and be unable to help or to see a member of staff dealing with issues differently than I would.)

      1. Petty_Boop*

        I agree. You either trust your daycare provider, or you don’t. If you do, sure check in a few times a day just to see your angel’s face and that she’s happy and healthy. If you don’t, remove her and find another one, or quit and stay home WITH her. But this is basically stealing from the company AFTER admitting she did NOTHING for 30% of her paid time when WFH! The company has been MORE than understanding.

    3. Rara Avis*

      I agree. My kid broke a sandal at daycare. They called my cell phone to ask me to bring a new pair of shoes. (I had repeatedly told them NOT to call my cell phone, because I wasn’t supposed to carry it with me, and to call my work number — despite me checking multiple times that that note was in the file, they kept calling my cell phone. In a real emergency I’m confident they would have worked down the list of numbers.) But even if I gotten the message, I couldn’t leave work to make a 60-mile round trip home to retrieve shoes. And you know what? They figured it out.

  23. i drink too much coffee*

    If my daycare had a livestream, I guess I could see having it up and occasionally glancing at it? But honestly I’d probably find it mostly boring lol. But, I’m a person who likes background noise and regularly watches movies/tv shows (I specifically pick ones that won’t distract me, ones I’ve seen before where I won’t get too invested in the storyline) while working on things to keep me focused. If she was using it that way, I could see it, but she’s clearly not.

    1. bamcheeks*

      I know, I was thinking that I couldn’t imagine anything more boring! Maaaaybe I’d have done this in the first few weeks after my kids started nursery, when I was used to being with them 100% of the time and was still in the transition period where it felt weird to be away from them?

  24. Generic Name*

    As a working mom and as someone who is on the anxious side, I really sympathize for OP’s coworker. When my niece was in the NICU, my sister gave me the login for the video feed of her bassinet in the hospital, and I absolutely logged in a few times a day for a few minutes at work for a bit of a “baby break”. I do think it would be a kindness to explain to her the optics, especially since she’s having performance issues. I do think it’s notable that she only worked for 2 weeks in the “before times”. I think companies are just now reverting to a semblance of the way things were pre-pandemic. If one’s only working experience is with children in the background, then it kind of makes sense that she thinks it’s fine to livestream her child all day.

  25. aebhel*

    The whole concept of the daycare having a livestream that she can watch nonstop like this really weirds me out in the first place (presumably parents have to opt in to allow their kids to be on camera? But regardless, eurgh). Watching it constantly throughout the workday is weird as hell, also. It would be one thing if she checked it once in a while, or just kept it on as a sort of background thing, but that doesn’t seem like it’s the case. And on top of existing performance issues?

    Someone should definitely say something to her. That’s way outside the norm, and would be even if she didn’t have the performance issues she does. That said, I don’t know if it’s something that LW has standing to address. It probably depends a lot on the relationship she has with this lady.

    1. i drink too much coffee*

      These types of daycares, you “opt in” just by enrolling your child. They’re more expensive typically too, because the cost of having a live stream camera with parental access is also high! I feel like it would be too much for me lol. Mine sends me pictures, and they obviously have cameras in all the rooms in case of emergency situations (which has happened with my child and I was grateful for the camera’s existence because we were able to time what happened to the minute for the doctor!)

  26. Roeslein*

    So maybe it’s because I’m a mother myself (1 and 5 year old, so very much in the thick of it), but employees using their parental status as an excuse for underperforming is my personal pet peeve. I know first-hand just how hard most parents work to find suitable childcare, arrange babysitters etc. so they can continue to be high-performing professionals and this kind of behaviour gives all working parents (but particularly those who work from home) a bad name. These people are the reason employers want everyone back in the office! Watching any kind of livestream during the working day is not appropriate unless you are security and tasked with keeping an eye on cctv. She sounds like a bad employee and that has absolutely zero to do with her parental status.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, I agree. When my son first went to daycare and I returned to work, he was often sick and I had to take a lot of sick leave to care for him. I worked 30 hours a week at the time. My husband traveled a lot for work so in practice I ended up taking most of the sick leave when our son was sick. My coworker was understandably miffed by my constant absences, but thankfully my job wasn’t at risk. I’m glad that the constantly sick phase only lasted about a year, and often my MIL was able to care for our son (she’s a retired pediatric nurse so I definitely trusted her to care for our son when he was sick).

  27. WellRed*

    OP the employee is not missing out on raises and promotions because of the task of managing motherhood and work. She’s missing out because she’s doing poor work (when she even does it!!??). I appreciate your sympathy to working parents but I think you are trying to pretzel yourself into that understanding and making it work. Also, if you have standing, might be time to suggest the company formalize its coaching expectations. To me, this would have been a clear example of coaching.

  28. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    A few comments (and the letter itself to some degree) seem to suggest that the performance issues are being caused by watching this feed: she’s doing that all day so isn’t getting her work done. I think we may have cause and effect the wrong way round here — I feel like the performance issues came first, and then the other stuff (wfh and doing nothing, watching this video all day) are a consequence of that — she’s struggling with work so focuses on that instead. Not very adaptive behaviour of course, but I have seen this kind of thing a lot.

    I would talk to her with the “unprofessional” part but also probe for whether that is a reaction to, rather than the cause of, the poor performance.

    1. Jiminy Cricket*

      I think this is a good observation. She might end up distracting herself with just about anything.

  29. MPM*

    Post-partum anxiety can last a long time. This may be a symptom of a medical issue that is none of OP’s business, and which the employee’s manager may already be aware.

    Given this, and the fact that coach is such a poorly defined role, OP should approach the manager with these observations and to check if this is something that falls under the coaching role or if it’s something the manager wants them to stay out of.

    1. DontFlameMeBro*

      EVERY mother with a kid in daycare has some level of anxiety about it. Think of us poor souls who left our kids and hoped for the best because there were no cameras. BUT she isn’t being paid to watch her kid. She’s paying someone else to do that and she is being paid to WORK. IF she is under SUCH anxiety that she cannot do her work, then she needs to either get some medication, or quit and watch her child….at HOME. This whole “omg anyone who may have some anxiety about literally ANYTHING must be pandered to” culture is a little out of hand.

  30. Knope Knope Knope*

    I feel like this is just a do less issue. She has performance issues. Let her manager handle them… I would say the same if she were shopping online all day.

  31. ina*

    This feels like it has little to do with being a working parent (there are millions of us) and more with her being a…not good worker.

    1. saskia*

      I’m not that old, and it seems completely bonkers to me too. These kids will grow up with the expectation that they can be surveilled at any time.

      1. they who don the hat of tin*

        And that’s exactly what the State wants.

        I mean look at the UK, CCTV all over and no one bats an eye. We’ve just accepted big brother constantly watching us like it’s somehow ok and normal.

  32. umami*

    Since the employee is frustrated about not being considered for promotions/raises, it seems like the perfect opening for a discussion of her work habits, including the optics of having a live feed on from daycare all day. I had an employee (I was her grandboss) who would do this – she had two monitors, and she would have the live feed in a small corner of one monitor. I only know because once she mentioned to me something her kid was doing when I walked by. But she also was a high performer, so clearly it wasn’t distracting to her, and she wasn’t narrating her kid’s activities to the office.

    OP, as this employee’s mentor, it would be a kindness to address their concerns with a frank conversation about the habits she is exhibiting that are obstacles to getting what she desires.

    1. Momma Bear*

      This is what I was thinking – employee has already given OP the opener for talking about career goals and lack of promotions, etc. It may be that this mom needs to consider if this type of work is best for her/her family. While I didn’t like the advice at the time, I had to admit a more seasoned mom who told me I needed to “compartmentalize” work and family had a point. This mom needs to trust that the daycare is doing its job and her kids are safe. Then she also needs to spend her work time working. She’s already on thin ice and IMO lucky she didn’t get fired at the time. I think OP should put on the mentor hat and have a direct conversation about this. Being a working parent is hard, but she’s not doing herself any favors right now, either.

  33. Stopped Using My Name*

    This comment section always proves to me how different people’s experiences can be.

    The number of people who’ve never heard of all day livestreaming for human daycare is surprising to me. In my corner of the United States it’s very common.

    In fact, parents have used footage to report on things gone amiss.

    1. This_is_Todays_Name*

      I think that the difference is that it is AVAILABLE all day, but not that most parents are VIEWING it all day. Heck my doggy daycare has livestreaming but I don’t watch it 8 hours a day! Now, if my dog came home with a limp or acting weird, I’d go back and view it, perhaps, or ask for footage, but a Mom livestreaming her kid’s daycare 8 hours a day is out of bounds. She’s not giving to her employer what they’re paying her for. She needs to check periodically, sure, but not ALL DAY long!

      1. Check Assumptions*

        “She’s not giving to her employer what they’re paying her for.”

        Employers have been cutting staff with no decrease in total workload, increasing workloads and scopes with no increase in pay, and returning only a small sliver of the money the employee brings in or saves to the employee.

        With such large discrepancies between what an employee brings into the company and what they are paid, it’s important not to assume that the company is actually paying for everything they feel entitled to. Employees are very lucky to be paid for even 30% of the work they do.

        1. This_is_Todays_Name*

          “it’s important not to assume that the company is actually paying for everything they feel entitled to.”

          There’s no indication she’s underpaid OR overworked; in fact, if you read the letter, the Mom admitted to doing NO work during the 30% of the time that she was permitted to WFH! NOTHING–and she was NOT fired; she was treated kindly. Just because “some” employers may suck doesn’t give someone who is being treated just fine the right to decide that they don’t actually have to do their jobs. I think the cuts and work you’re referring to are largely around the service industries that were hit hardest by the pandemic, and health care. A lot of industry and tech pivoted to WFH pretty easily and have been very flexible where they can. This woman’s employer seems to have been very good to her… but you still think that she’s “entitled” to decide what level of effort her employer is “entitled” to from her. Wow.

    2. Delphine*

      There was a terrible daycare abuse scandal in my state recently (MA) and after hearing that story, I’m actually not surprised that parents would want to see a livestream. Watching it all day might be another matter, but having it available–yes, I can understand that.

      1. This_is_Todays_Name*

        I said, “I think that the difference is that it is AVAILABLE all day, but not that most parents are VIEWING it all day.”

        So, not sure what your point is, since I said largely the same thing.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          She was sharing something that happened in her area while replying to another poster, I think.

  34. kiki*

    It sounds like LW’s coaching role may be focused more on the technical and I think LW is completely within their right to stick to that. But I will say that throughout my career, I have really appreciated the mentors who told me I was being wrong-headed about something, coming across as unprofessional, or gave advice that touched on the less tangible work output stuff.

    For me, I really appreciated a mentor who listened to me complain about working late and said, “Look, it may be different other places, but at this company, if you want to your star to rise, you have to put in the hours. You’re just not going to get promoted to X level if you’re working exactly 40 hours a week. You can work 40 hours a week and have the work life balance you want, but you will stay in this position for the next ten years.” I didn’t love hearing it and I wish it weren’t true, but it was and I needed to face that reality.

  35. New Mom*

    This is honestly really sad to me. I mean, obviously you have to address the performance issues, and it’s not good that she’s doing this, but I really feel for someone who (it sounds like) might rather be a SAHP.

    1. Punk*

      I don’t want to sound harsh but the vast majority of people have other dreams for how they’d rather spend their lives than at their day jobs. Do we extend this sympathy to everyone?

    2. Momma Bear*

      And strictly a SAHP. Most remote work still requires you to have childcare provided by someone else so even if she did work effectively at home (she doesn’t), she would need a nanny or daycare.

    3. faith*

      Would you feel the same way if the employee was a single cis man frittering away his time watching football games instead of working because his passion is football?

      1. H3llifIknow*

        Yes. I actually fired (I’m a woman) an employee who did NOTHING for 6 weeks, except watch videos of planes/drones on YouTube. His officemate finally gave me a heads up, after I came in asking for the dozenth time for a white paper I was waiting on. With a little digging into the audit logs, etc… He’d done ZERO work. So, yeah… if you’re going to work less forcing someone ELSE to work more, I feel the same.

    4. MPM*

      It’s interesting how many people jumped to “this person doesn’t want to work” rather than “how terrible must it be to be worried your child isn’t safe while you’re at work.”

      Watching daycare all day long would be so incredibly boring – way more boring than my often very boring work. I just can’t imagine doing that unless I had some (real or perceived) fear that my child was at risk. So this situation is really sad to me too, but for other reasons.

      1. DontFlameMeBro*

        A mother who thinks her child is at risk but continues to put her child in that potentially risky situation, is a bad mother. If there is genuine fear that the child is at risk, she should be removed from that daycare. Period. There is being sympathetic to a Mom who misses her child, and there is leaping to a wild conclusion that the Mom has legit reasons for fearing for her child’s safety and therefore she should be allowed to slack off and get paid not to work.

        1. Anon for this*

          What if you don’t know? How can you ever know your child is safe? It’s not like there’s a magic daycare fairy that will help you find a facility you trust. The times we had concerns about daycare there wasn’t another option.

    5. Misty_Meaner*

      I know very few mothers who wouldn’t have preferred, at least for a couple of years, to be SAHPs. I’m sorry but that doesn’t confer upon them some special privilege to shirk their work while they pine away at a camera staring at their child(ren). If she wants to be a SAHP, then do the math. Is the daycare savings enough to quit work and stay home? Or can something else be cut. But the cost shouldn’t come in the form of giving LESS to an employer whilst she pines and longs for her child.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I was very lucky because I work in an environment where I was able to take 2 years maternity leave (less than some, slightly more than average in my area) and return to my previous job. By the time we put our son in daycare and I was mentally ready to go back to work, he was also old enough to benefit from being around other kids and adults. He thrived and learned stuff I didn’t even think to attempt to teach him at that age, like he could fold his clothes when he was 3 because they changed into pajamas for nap time and always folded their clothes.

        Whichever parent picked him up heard something about his day, and they had days when they took photos of the kids with an old fashioned Polaroid camera. They gave each parent the photos where their own kid was facing the camera, and some parents opted to have their kid’s face blackened out on any group photos that were handed out to other parents. I was a member of the PTA at my son’s daycare and we paid for the cameras and the photo paper. Now I’m not sure if they even make Polaroid paper anymore…

      2. Anon for this*

        Sorry, that’s a bunch of sexist nonsense. I personally know very few women who wanted to be SAHP.

    6. Anon for this*

      Or maybe she’s just overwhelmed with what’s expected of her as a parent with a partner who it sounds like wasn’t helping when the kids were sick and a daycare center that maybe she’s worried about. Or she has anxiety. Who knows.

  36. Punk*

    An issue here is that she actually does have childcare (as evidenced by the live feed) so some of the standard parenting pressures don’t apply to her. I think she’s just the odd person who’ll never be a good employee. She solved the childcare problem and promptly found another way to fritter her time away

  37. Llama Llama*

    I have no sympathy for this person and she is kidding herself to think that she can get a promotion. Honestly is she even going to get one even if she stopped this live stream thing? As management, it would be a while before I promoted someone who was lying about working 30 percent of the time!!

    1. umami*

      I wonder if it has to do with how some workers who came into the workforce during the pandemic view the phrase ‘work from home’. I had someone who started a position then, and then when we came back to in-person, he would say he was going to work from home a particular day because he needed to be home (either a delivery needed, or kid was home sick, etc.) So I didn’t mind, because his work can be done from home. It happened a few times, and then I reached out to him one time to get something done but didn’t hear back. So I texted him and said ‘you’re working from home today, right? I emailed you something that needs to be addressed today, so let me know if I’ll need to do it instead’. Turns out, he thought WFH meant he had to be ‘available’ to work if something was needed, not that he was expected to actually be working all day! It seems self-evident, but I had another employee say the same thing when at our next division meeting I discussed our WFH policy and when/how it could be used.

      1. higheredadmin*

        Unami – this is AMAZING. And also makes a great point about ensuring that your communications with staff are crystal clear.

      2. H3llifIknow*

        Similar. I had an employee ask to WFH one day. I said, “sure.” Hey we’re adults and professionals. No problem. BUT, no answers to IMs, no answers to emails. NOTHING until the next day, when he came in and informed us his daughter in another state had had a mental health crisis and he (rightfully) was making calls, and arranging for her care, etc… BUT, he charged 8 hours of work. I said, “You weren’t working, you cannot charge our *govt.* client for that time.” “But I was logged into the VPN and my laptop was on.” Uh.. WTF? I was sympathetic and he could have certainly taken PTO or a personal day (we had 3), but he actually was SHOCKED that I said he needed to change his time card!

        1. Industry Behemoth*

          Early in WFH lockdown, someone at my employer tried that approach to get away with grocery shopping, etc. on the clock.

          They got busted soon enough because they weren’t timely responding to emails or calls. And had the riot act read to them by the firm.

  38. Potatoes*

    I get peeking in for a few minutes throughout the day but actively watching it all day long – I just don’t understand the purpose of that.

    and I’m just gonna rant a bit but it’s related – I REALLY wish people understood that you just CAN NOT actively watch your child AND work at the same time. It literally, physically is not possible. If the kid is in school, if they’re napping, or in daycare or being watched by someone else or old enough to quietly sit and read a book or screen time – sure. But I can’t think of many jobs where you can actively engage them AND be engaged in your work at the same time.

    I see wayyyyy too many posts in so many of my groups where moms want work from home jobs so they can stay home for their kids. Which.. in theory, yes, it’s fine. But not without childcare, I learned that the hard way. Me personally – I tried working from home first when my daughter was a newborn (terrible mistake on my end), and later as a toddler. The latter one was freelance so the time she was either with her dad or in daycare is the time I could work. When I went back to work full time, I realized working from home wouldn’t work for me either.
    Now I rarely work from home. Better all around. But it took a while to get there and lots of mistakes and hard lessons.

    1. Petty_Boop*

      I wholeheartedly agree. I’d stay home once in a while with a sick kid and the reality was, I was NOT able to work, especially a full 8 hours; maybe an hour or two while they slept. I was making soup, and taking temps, and cuddling a kid who wanted Mommy and, changing out videos and (this was in the 90s and early 2ooos :) soo) … Like you, I know many women (and men) who are all about “I want a remote/WFT job so I can save all that daycare money,” and I want to laugh! You may save money, but you may not save your job!

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, agreed. It’s a bit different once the kids are old enough to go to school but not yet old or mature enough to stay at home alone all day if they’re sick. My son’s 14 and I have no problems with him coming home from school and being alone for a few hours if my husband’s on a work trip and I have to go to the office. But if he’s too sick to go to school he usually doesn’t need so much attention that I can’t work at the same time (or my husband can’t if he’s home) and be almost as productive as when he’s at school. He’s happy enough to spend most of the day in his room… I do check up on him from time to time but he’s a good kid and I don’t feel the need to supervise him 24/7.

  39. Josh*

    For those of you who are in similar situations of working with co-workers who seem distracted all day by their computers, phones, etc is that something you should tell your manager?

    I literally worked in a 2-person department with someone who watched pro wrestling all day long. I never mentioned it to my boss, since I did all of my assignments while my co-worker was barely doing anything. It wasn’t until I quit that company that he got fired a few weeks after (no surprise since I’m sure nothing got done). I guess our boss finally started to monitor things once I left and by that point it was too late. He was the “hands off” type of manager as well.

    Should I have mentioned to our boss that he wasn’t doing his job? I figured its not my responsibility to make sure he did his work and that our boss should have been monitoring his work all along.

    1. Punk*

      Personally I wouldn’t. I just do my best work and eventually management realizes who’s the better candidate for promotions and raises. And if that doesn’t happen, that’s good info to have about your company.

      1. Czhorat*

        Same. I stay in my lane, unless there’s a reason to raise a flag. For example:

        If a co-worker were doing something illegal or unethical I’d want to bring it to the attention of management.

        If they are being openly racist, sexist, or otherwise intolerant of a marginalized group, that merits speaking up.

        If their dereliction of their duties is severely impacting my ability to do my job because I have to pick up their slack or wait for dependencies that aren’t coming in a timely manner then THAT is an issue to raise (not the why – just the fact that i’m waiting for something/filling in on something and have issues completing my responsibilities as a result.

        Otherwise, your manager is paid perfectly good money to manage. Don’t add that responsibility to yourself.

    2. All Het Up About It*

      If it wasn’t really having an impact on me, I probably would have just ignored it as well. If I was expected to pick up slack, or was getting push back from clients regarding a co-worker’s work, I would hope I would bring it to my manager.

    3. Misty_Meaner*

      Slight difference. The OP is the Mom’s “Coach” and I think that even without a defined set of duties, introducing “MOM” to “the norms of OUR working environment” falls into that role. ESPECIALLY when Mom opens the door by complaining she’s not being promoted, etc… It’s one thing if the OP were just “she’s not busy so I want to tattle to my boss, is that ok?” But that’s NOT the gist of the letter. Mom’s performance is lacking, and that means someone else has to pick up the slack and that is NOT okay.

  40. K*

    I would focus on the performance issues instead of the cause of them. That’s on the employee to figure out and she probably already knows.

  41. higheredadmin*

    OP, we have had issues with a staff member with daycare-aged children who would “work from home” but not complete any work during these days. This has finally been flushed out after numerous conversations with their manager about a request from this person to go to part-time. The manager was reluctant to tackle the performance issue out of concern for the fact that this person has small kids, but as the part-time discussion shows – really, why on earth are we PAYING someone to not work for half the week. And as noted in the OPs letter, it is one thing to be honest with your boss (e.g. “my kid is sick so I’m probably not going to be able to put in a full day’s work today from home – should I take a vacation day or can I make up my hours in the evening/later in the week/whatever but you have articulated a plan) vs just being at home and occasionally hopping onto email.

  42. Carvacrol*

    Janssen (Johnson & Johnson pharma company) used to have their onsite daycare live streamed but stopped. Like the subject of this post, there was too much gawking. Unfortunately for the daycare staff at J&J the parents took it even further and would harass them based on what they saw, or rather, what they thought they saw.

  43. Fluff*

    This is so hard because the intersection of work, working mom, feeding into the judgements already existing about moms, and poor choices on her part as well.

    When livestreaming she shows she is NEVER prioritizing her work. In human norms, seeing your own cute cub on livestream will override anything from work plus it is a long term thing. The kiddo is going to be in daycare for several years, and she is also showing her potential future behavior which also impacts promotion. In comparison, you may have people livestreaming the hurricane because of family, etc. This is temporary and their performance is only impacted during that time.

    She also now has to dig out of the hole and improve her work reputation, her mom reputation (we have to say the hidden rules – this is real) plus the ‘single mother’ negative tax which is seen as justified (it is not, her workplace performance is relevant, and unfortunately she is doing it with her kiddo). She has even more work ahead of her to overcome this vs if she had livestreamed sports constantly.

    She will likely have to acknowledge her past performance and let people know she is working to improve, the specific steps she is doing. Then do it obviously with visible doing and results.

  44. Misty_Meaner*

    Talk to that MOM! As her “Coach” you have the perfect opportunity to … COACH her on the norms at your office! “Hey Sue, I know it’s hard to be away from (baby) but, you can’t have your daycare streaming all day on your WORK monitor. We don’t stream video here, generally because it’s a drain on bandwidth and it doesn’t look professional. By all means check on (baby) at lunch and breaks, but you should probably use your phone for that.” This is the perfect coaching moment, especially if it follows her lament of not being given other opportunities. “Well, one thing you might consider is how it looks….” She really needs to know that she’s distracted and it’s impacting her potential.

  45. Sally Rhubarb*

    I think you’ll need to separate the employee from the mom. She’s not a bad employee because she’s a mom, she’s a bad employee because she’s not doing her job. Honestly, who confesses to not doing work and then wonders why they aren’t getting promoted?? (…many people I imagine. Cognitive dissonance is a bitch)

    You owe it to her to be candid. Explain that what she isn’t doing is what’s hurting her and that she seems very distracted. Maybe mention the optics of other people noticing that she’s clearly watching something and not working.

  46. With A Y*

    I worked with someone who watched their dogs on their home camera all day, and talk about it. Small company, and her boss was her family, so nothing ever happened, except the rest of us rolling our eyes every time she mentioned what her dogs were doing (adult dogs, who mostly slept all day).

  47. SimonKitty*

    I’m just wondering how she was able to live stream in the first place. The company must have a lot of bandwidth to accommodate this. IT would usually block these unless it was work project related. The company must have a lot of bandwidth to accommodate this. I wonder what would happen if everyone live stream sports, kittens, pets, etc.

    1. The OG - OP*

      OP here – we work in a tiny part (40 people) of a large facility (2000+ people) so our bandwidth is pretty robust. As for why the site hasn’t been blocked… no clue! I don’t know of many sites that are actually blocked other than Netflix, Hulu etc. Social media is deemed necessary in some aspects of my company so those aren’t even blocked. I’m guessing there are just too many of us to try and monitor regularly, so they only go looking if they are made aware of a problem?

    2. sparkle emoji*

      Maybe it hasn’t pinged IT’s radar? If it’s a random daycare’s website I’d think they might not notice the same way they would for a well known streaming site

  48. The OG - OP*

    Letter writer here – thank you for all the responses, lots of great perspectives here! A few thoughts/follow-ups based on the comments.

    -There do not seem to be any extenuating circumstances that would warrant such close observation (health issues for the child, distrust of the daycare providers). When I mentioned once that this is a new phenomenon, she seemed baffled and asked how we ever managed without the video stream.
    -I really appreciated the comments regarding anxiety. That hadn’t occurred to me mostly because all of the behaviors come across more helicopter-y. She generally has been very open about health issues for her and the children so that seems like something she would have come out and said. But anxiety can, of course, look and feel different for everyone!
    -One commenter mentioned that it sounds like she would rather be a SAHM. I 100% think this is likely the case. She wants the paycheck, but also wants to be a mom who does it all.
    -Regarding the not really working while WFH consequences- I think management realized they had dropped the ball when it came to defining these things for her so they didn’t go straight to a PIP. Instead they started meeting weekly instead of monthly.
    -Her expectations regarding raises / promotion seem to be somewhat generational (at least in my experiences). She assumes these things happen by default over time just because she shows up, rather than them occurring for merit based reasons. In our company however… promotions typically don’t happen until you’ve already been performing at the next level for a few years.
    -Part of my big hesitation bringing the issue up with her before now is my own mom-guilt. I know parenting styles differ and I don’t want to come across as judgmental or unsupportive of another mom. I would clearly make a terrible people manager! But hopefully this can be a lesson in being a better coach!
    -The lack of definition around coaching could be a whole letter on its own! But it does sound like there may be some changes there in the near future. Our annual performance reviews are coming up in the next few months and this will be her first formal review since the WFH shenanigans. Our manager has hinted that a PIP is likely for her and that we need to redefine the relationships so that going forward I will have a more direct role in providing feedback on her work plan and performance. This new plan will be her “make it or break it” opportunity.
    -Given the imminent performance discussion, I think it makes sense to wait to have the livestream discussion until the new plan has been established and she realizes the severity of the situation. Hopefully I will have a positive update then!!

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      Oh, man, I actually wouldn’t wait. If reviews are ‘in the next few months’ and that’s when she’d be going on a PIP, I wouldn’t let it stretch out that long. That smacks of letting her be blindsided in her annual review.

      If you bring it up within the next couple of weeks, she has a chance to implement changes. She can limit her livestreaming to lunch and the occasional break. If she can do that, my guess is that she will start being a lot more productive (that might be a big IF). Then she can go into her annual review with the ability to say, “I know I’ve had a rough adjustment to being in the office full time. But for the last eight weeks, I’ve started using the coaching from The OG-OP, and I believe things have really improved in that time.”

      1. Boof*

        I got the impression op is her coworker- if that’s the case they should stay out of it unless asked for advice

      2. The OG-OP*

        OP here- that’s an interesting perspective (discussing now vs waiting)! At this point the results of the review are already set in stone, so any changes made now won’t really impact the results. Once the new cycle begins though, my role will be slightly different and the input might carry different weight. All that said, a PIP shouldn’t come as a surprise to her….

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          It sounds like the PIP might indeed be a surprise to her, since she’s wondering why she hasn’t been promoted rather than being grateful she wasn’t fired for not working when she was WFH.

          If you’re not yet involved in overseeing her more directly, I understand it may not be appropriate, but I’d consider having that discussion with her manager. Maybe she can improve a bit before review time.

          Your discussion with her manager could be along the lines of “as I’m preparing to take more of a direct role, I think it would be helpful to talk about the transition? Here is what I see as the issues are and what she needs, do you see it the same way and is there anything you want to do now or want me to do differently now, so it’s not as much of a shock to her when I start managing her more intensively than you, or so she doesn’t blame me for the PIP when she thought everything was fine under you”

  49. CLC*

    I don’t think this is any of the OP’s business unless the coworker asks for advice. The working from home issue was resolved with the person’s manager, so while it does paint more of picture it’s irrelevant to the core questions. I wouldn’t raise the daycare watching to her manager—if it’s not doing anything but affecting her own performance reporting it to her manager is really just tattling. If the coworker asks the OP in her role as a coach for advice on how she might improve performance, it may be worth it to note that she seems distracted watching and/or worried about her kids all day and she might be able to improve if she works on reducing or eliminating that distraction. I would make sure that she really does seem to be spending most of the day focused on the daycare and not working rather than just having it and occasionally glancing at it. She also might be checking on something specific—for example if her child isn’t eating properly she might be deliberately checking to see if they are their snack. Neither of these potential scenarios seems problematic to me. I don’t think “it doesn’t look professional” is useful feedback. It also doesn’t seem useful to compare experiences of parenthood—it’s different for everybody and norms do change over time.

  50. Boof*

    I’m seeing a few negative comments about daycare live streams and I just want to say I think they’re really nice! My daycare has one (no sound) and also periodically sends updates. I think some folks see it as “big brother”ly but it’s more like when you can sit near a class and peek at what’s happening through a window? I’m not hovering and judging the providers every move; i’m more curious about what my little guy is up to.
    I have rarely left it on while working- as someone else said it’s usually pretty boring and just feel nice to glance over once and a while and think “oh cute 8 napping toddlers- how did they even do that ?!” If she’s watching hard enough to know someone didn’t eat their snack etc then yeah, i’d say the issue is she’s not working and this is just the distraction du jour; I suspect she would distract on something else if the livestream weren’t available. But ultimately it should be her manager working on her performance and figuring out how to improve it or let her go.

  51. Sarah*

    I get pics from daycare on my phone all day. If I had a live cam I’d probably leave it up all day too. But it’s one thing to have it running in the background, and another to be watching it all the time.

  52. More Moose Plz*

    Is it bad that my takeaway from this thread is that I’m noting down every single wildlife livestream that gets mentioned?…

  53. sparkle emoji*

    This sounds like mom has some anxious feelings about being separated from her kids(not trying to suggest any dx). She isn’t adjusting well to the “working” part of being a working mom. I don’t think LW can’t get into the nitty gritty on the emotional side, but this feels like a tricky situation, best of luck LW.

Comments are closed.