A working parent’s lessons learned from COVID-19

Published:

At the onset of the pandemic, working parents were forced to completely readjust. Almost overnight, what had been considered 'home' evolved to encompass both 'office' and 'classroom'. 

We cleared the toys off a section of the kitchen table which became our desk, and selected a piece of wall that would operate as a professional Zoom background.

Parents were tasked with looking after children, staying focused and present at work and managing their household. Now, after almost two years of remote teaching and working, parents are confronted with another major readjustment returning to 'normal'.

As a working parent myself, managing a team of 18 and a household of five, I’ve learned a lot during the pandemic. Most essential to my survival, however, was the unequivocal support I felt from my team, my manager and my company throughout the last 18 months.

As we kick off a stressful September season in the UK, it's essential that business leaders embrace parent-friendly policies. 


Parent-friendly policies:

Flexible working: what HR needs to know to make it work

Pandemic drives UK businesses to improve parental leave

Acas publishes new flexible working guidance


In June of this year, my wife and I welcomed our third child, Ezra to our family. Iterable’s flexible PTO policy and 12 weeks of parental leave, allowed me to unplug and connect with my new, growing family with confidence. When I returned to work (remotely) as a new parent, I struggled at first to find balance.

How could I fully support my family at home, while continuing to manage and mentor a successful team at work? 

Soon after our workforce shifted to remote working at the beginning of the pandemic, we kicked off a new policy: Balance Day. On the first Friday of every month we have a company-wide holiday, called Balance Day, which enables us to step away from work and enjoy precious time with our family.

Balance Days helped me readjust after my parental leave, and has allowed me time to relax outside of my busy work life. I return to work each Monday after Balance Day, fresh, focused and ready to tackle the rest of the month at work.

Our plan for the future is to introduce a hybrid working model. Starting in 2022, employees can choose from three work modes: office, flex or remote. With this flexibility, my team can request the work mode that empowers them to do their best work. The freedom of choice is especially important for me.

I’ve learned to thrive in the remote work environment, and can look forward to a future where I can continue to do so.

In the midst of the difficulties of the pandemic, and as we start to come out on the other side, it is important to embrace and appreciate moments of joy. I will never forget when, while working from home, I went downstairs to make a cup of tea between meetings, and witnessed my child’s first steps.

While flexible PTO and Balance Days are certainly wonderful perks, I’ve grown to appreciate many other benefits as a working parent. Perks like 12 weeks of paternity leave, stipends for learning and development, health and wellness, and daily lunch, and 'geo-neutral' pay contribute to my holistic (mental, emotional, physical, and financial) wellbeing.

 

Mike McGuire is VP of sales, EMEA at Iterable