Over the last several years, we, like many others, have put a renewed focus on how we can support our teams through the different stages of their lives. More recently we have updated our paternity policy and embraced a remote first working model to allow for increased balance. To celebrate Father's Day and International Fathers Mental Health Day we asked some of our Beyond Dads to share their thoughts on balancing parenting and work.
Home and away
Working from home was new for me. During the pandemic I rejoined Beyond. Gone was commuting into work. Working from home was the new mode. At 7:45am peace descends on our house and at 3pm that gets turned upside down, as 3 energetic boys come home from school. When I worked from the office I used to miss the boys coming home from school, hearing their tales and what they learned. An hour or so later they head off to ‘train for the game’ or ’soccer’, again activities that I was not part of.
"Working from home has meant that I’m included in more of their day and I love it. For my older two their main sport is karting."
They’ve gone from local racing in Texas to racing nationally and internationally. The ability to work from anywhere has meant that I’m able to go with them and support them in their quest to turn their hobby into a career. The flexibility to work anywhere is liberating to me and something I hope more Beyonders take advantage of.
Both my children were born during a very intense phase of my career. I was working at a large consultancy firm, working very long hours leading a series of high profile transactions, traveling internationally most weeks and with limited personal control of my schedule.
From a work perspective I was high energy and ‘always on’ whether in a meeting room or socially, but I was generally jet lagged and exhausted when I got home whilst canceled family commitments and holidays became the norm. Unfortunately, I did not have the awareness, knowledge or tools around how to set the right boundaries between my work and family life, my wellbeing suffered and sadly I was not creating the space to enjoy the day to day pleasures of being a new parent.
"Jump forward 10 years, I have older children, a different job and a much better awareness of the importance of being present in the day to day joys and challenges of family life."
Excitingly in my role I also have the ability to help shape the working environment at Beyond to ensure that all Beyonders feel supported through the different phases of their lives. This has included ensuring that all Beyonders have access to regular Mental Health Awareness training, implementing a programme of enhanced parental leave policies across our regions and embracing greater flexibility in how we work.
Post pandemic parenthood required many to adapt to new dynamics at work and at home. Our family went even further and had to adapt to living in a new country, Portugal, as we made the move from the UK in 2020, during the pandemic. The life of a working parent (without local family support) is dotted with challenges that can only be navigated with a healthy dose of flexibility. I normally spend three days working from the office and two days working from home, which I believe to be a good arrangement for the social being I believe I am. The days I go to the office I drop off the kids at school and pick them up around 16:30. During the car rides I learn about their experiences and what was the soup of the day (yes, kids in Portugal have soup every day). This hybrid work arrangement and our present location, give me the privilege to spend an hour or two swimming or riding our skateboards at the beach with my kids before heading back home after school.
"Most importantly, our Portugal hub was established with flexibility at its very centre, allowing parents to spend quality time with their kids - with or without the sunny weather."
We are about to become a family of four. Our son was born in March 2019; his 1st birthday party was our last social event before Covid. We got the best of lockdown parenting. After the first year where naturally his mum took the lion's share of responsibilities, I spent his second year working reasonably uninterrupted but also being present to witness him learn to walk, talk and learn to be a little human. Since then it has been the norm for him to pop onto video calls and check in on Daddy when he’s working - as well as the flexibility for me to cover lots of the daily duties. We didn’t know it was going to pan out like that in 2019 when I had three weeks of paternity leave, barely enough time to learn how to change a nappy - but we were still grateful for it and counted ourselves lucky.
"This time around it is 12 weeks! I seriously couldn’t believe it when I heard this was the new policy."
I am really looking forward to bonding with the new arrival when our son is at nursery but then be able to give him the attention he needs without having to juggle work as well. For a couple of months, my usual work responsibilities won’t feel like they are just around the corner, and by the time they do come around - we as a family will be ready for it.
Having my first child in lockdown has certainly had its challenges but has also been a massive blessing. Oscar arrived on the day of the UK national lockdown on March 23rd 2020. The early days back from the hospital were tough as we didn’t have access to a health visitor or support from Grandparents. Although this initial bubble meant we had little distractions and could adjust as new parents in our own time. Working from home during the pandemic gave me the opportunity to see my son everyday in a way that wouldn’t have been possible being in the office and it was amazing seeing him grow up. During this time we were also lucky to be able to buy our first home, although this meant a lot of disruption with the house move and things also took a turn when Oscar caught covid during his first week at nursery and we spent his first Birthday in isolation - one we will definitely remember from the photos as we celebrated it at home, still surrounded with boxes as the house was being unpacked and decorated.
"Despite the difficulties, becoming a father during a global pandemic has made me realise the importance of the family unit and taught me much about myself."