Working on Children’s Terms
On average, we spend 8 hours a day at work. If you happen to have children, they often spend the same time at a day care. Many can relate to having to rush to day care after a busy day at work, or to how during the Covid pandemic every sniffle potentially means canceling the day’s work, not to mention the cold sweat a mere thought of ravaging norovirus causes.
The average age of a Bitcompian is around 40 years, which means that many of us are of a younger generation. For them, starting a family can potentially be just around the corner or coming on a later date. At the same time, there is still a lot of discussion on media about the challenges of work life, family life, and parental leaves (even in the 2020s). About how women can experience pressure over having children and taking a maternal leave. About how men still do not much take paternal or parental leaves. Understandably, there are sectors and companies, in which an employee’s long time off causes trouble. However, at Bitcomp we take pride in that no employee needs to worry about leaves related to starting a family or policies regarding childcare. We believe in arranging work life in the way that best fits the family life. Also when children are older.
We asked Bitcompians what kind of experiences they have had with combining life with kids and work. Veera and Eero are currently living hectically with little children.
Can I Take a Parental Leave?
“I was so nervous, when I told my manager that I was expecting”, relates Veera, Communications Coordinator at Bitcomp. It was 2018 and she had worked for Bitcomp already for couple of years. There had just been a lively discussion in media on the costs of motherhood for an employer. Veera was prepared to convince her manager that her leave would not last too long and she would not be away for years. “What’s more, our workplace was quite clearly predominantly male. Only one person before me had taken a maternal leave, and she had not returned since”, Veera laughs. “It was a great relief that what everyone was concerned about was how I was doing, and maybe a little about whether I would eventually come back.”
On the other hand, Eero begun working at Bitcomp in 2020. It was a very hectic year for the company. Despite this, Eero was able to change his paternal leave on the fly when his son decided to be born earlier than planned.
“Asking for a leave has been easy. You can influence your own work and when you plan the date of your leave on time, you can arrange things”, Eero relates. “Company is growing fast and there’s a plenty to do. Even so, the employer’s stance has been positive and understanding. The company has a lot of employees who are living their busy years with work and taking care of the children. For this reason, it is very normal to take a parental leave.”
In addition to a paternal leave, Eero has taken two longer parental leaves. Doing so, he has been able to spend quality time with his child while the child is still young.
Veera’s day walk during remote working day.
Flexible Working Time Helps in Meeting Child’s Needs
With her firstborn, Veera was on maternal and parental leaves 9 months in a row, after which it was dad’s turn to stay at home. Although the brain was longing for more activity, leaving an infant that was still being breastfed home for longer periods preoccupied the mind.
“Luckily, thanks to the flexible working hours, I was able to go to the office, work half a day there, then go back home to breastfeed and work there for the rest of the day. I didn’t have to bring a breast pump or anything to work even once.”
Then the corona times begun. From the beginning, it was clear to Veera and her husband that they did not want to send their small child to a day care in the middle of a pandemic if they did not absolutely have to.
“I started working part-time. Thanks to good remote working policies and flexible work time I was able to be at home with my child and to start the workday once the boy’s dad came home”, Veera relates. “I could flexibly schedule meetings and presentations that required my full attention to a nap time or to dad’s day off. I’m not saying that it was an easy time. However, I’m truly grateful for that I could arrange my work so that I didn’t have to send my kid to a day care under those circumstances and that I could still continue to work. Since I worked part-time, the total load remained feasible. I went back to working full time when my son was 2,5 years old.”
Also Eero acknowledges good remote work policies and flexible work time that allow life with kids run its course.
“As a default, meetings don’t start at 8 a.m., so there’s a plenty of time to take the kids to day care. Meetings also don’t usually last over 4 p.m., so there’s also time to go get the kids back home,” Eero tells. “No one is thrown off even if there are kids’ screams, cry, or babble on the background at times during remote meetings.”
“Or if a waving infant appears on the screen all of a sudden,” Veera adds. Her now 3-year-old firstborn actually enjoys participating in internal meetings and knows many of mom’s colleagues by name.
Both agree that the policies work flexibly. Children’s appointments such as health checks can easily be organized around work. Staying home with a sick child practically means only having to send a notice to the supervisor.
There’s a chance you can see this little fellow during a meeting with Eero.
Sometimes it is possible to combine working with a family walk. Eero tests Foresta on a rugged tablet.
Peer Support Helps
Veera is about to take her second maternal leave. This time telling about the pregnancy did not make her nervous. Many Bitcompians are living their busy years with small children. Talking with workmates remotely or in person during recreational events has been great for sharing feelings.
“At one point in time, we had an eye bag competition going on,” Veera laughs. She continues that it has been very refreshing to joke also about the cons of living with kids with co-workers.
There is a supportive atmosphere at work. Parents of small children are not thought to be slackers even if children would cause them to be absent more, or if they have to cut work time due to ill-slept nights. “It’s ok to say that we are having worse time with night sleep right now, and that I’ll do something that requires as little brain capacity as possible this week and maybe take a nap during the day.”
“If I were to hope for something more, some recreational event with kids would be nice”, Eero ponders.
Overall, small children’s parents’ coping is positively impacted when they feel that company takes their life situation into account and they can have peer support from their co-workers.