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Working 9 – 5 (with a baby in tow)

  • People & Culture

Returning to work after time off is never easy. You struggle to recall your passwords, have to plan your lunches strategically, and adapt to wearing work clothes again. But can you imagine combining all these problems while also juggling a new-born baby?

Welcome to the world of Technical Analyst and Developer Rhiannon Rogers and her wee baby Grayson.

Time flies when you’re sleep-deprived

Typically in New Zealand, most expecting mums go on maternity leave at around 36 weeks pregnant. Rhiannon finished off the last of her coding and said goodbye to her office desk in September 2020.

At 41 weeks and two days, Grayson entered the world.

Having seven months off to spend with a new-born is a double-edged sword, says Rhiannon. “While you get to bond with your baby and witness all the small moments, a lot of it is spent in a sleep-deprived state. It is a whirlwind, and the last thing on your mind is going back to work at the end of your leave.” But as it happens, maternity leave eventually ends, and Rhiannon joined us back in the office in April 2021.

Not the standard workday

“My biggest fear initially was sending Grayson to day-care as I wasn’t sure how he would be around other people,” says Rhiannon.

As anyone with children will know, placing your child’s care in the hands of strangers can be a daunting thought, let alone being away from them for eight hours a day. Considering how much sleep babies need, it’s easy for a stay at day-care to consume all a child’s ‘awake time’, and quite often, working parents are only there for the tail end of a toddler’s day.

Luckily for Rhiannon, and thanks to Adaptiv’s flexibility, she is able to split her time across working in the office working and from home in periods between looking after Grayson, and working once her partner gets home and takes over Grayson duty.

After Covid-19 struck, Adaptiv introduced a ‘working-from-home’ policy that allows employees to mix up where they choose to work. We also actively encourage people to work away from the office if there is a chance they could be spreading germs. This has worked exceedingly well and has also provided alternatives in situations like parents needing to tend to an unwell child.

And as it just so happened, Rhiannon became one of these parents this year.

“I wasn’t expecting Grayson to get sick so many times once he started day-care; I’ve heard that more kids are getting ill this year after lockdown.”

Unfortunately, Grayson had to battle a few bouts of poor health, which meant that Rhiannon had to take some time off work. While she felt terrible for leaning on her co-workers so soon after coming back to work, the team has been more than supportive and covered any tasks that she couldn’t manage.

“My co-workers often ask how Grayson is doing, which is really appreciated,” she says. “It’s nice knowing that they care about him too.”

With a bit of help from her friends (and colleagues)

After spending a decent chunk of time off work, Rhiannon was understandably worried that she’d fall behind in her technical knowledge. However, her mentor, Principal Consultant Dragos Buleandra, and the rest of the Adaptiv team helped her transition back into the world of integration with ease.

“Rhiannon made this switch back to work with a smile on her face, with an awesome let’s do this attitude, keen to take on another challenge in her life,” says Dragos. “She returned to work at full speed, right in the middle of a very tough project, one of the most demanding ones we’ve had in the last couple of years. Despite having been away, her contribution to the project was amazing and made a significant difference to our ability to complete the project.”

Since her return, Rhiannon has constantly worked on various challenges, facing content switching from one project to another daily. However, she is developing every day, becoming a force to be recognised and appreciated not only by the business but also by our clients.

Our new baby developer?

The team have had fun seeing Grayson at their weekly stand-up meetings. On a large screen, as big as a wall, we see our working-from-home colleagues’ faces and that of one small baby smiling out at us. Often, he is eagerly pulling at Rhiannon’s headphones, thinking that they’re a new toy.

“The team always jokes about the ‘new developer’ when they see Grayson on screen,” says Rhiannon. “It’s nice that they don’t mind me bringing him to meetings sometimes.”

So if you ever see Rhiannon’s call drop out, it will most likely be because Grayson is still developing his keyboard skills.

A bit of advice

Though Rhiannon is still learning to juggle life as a working mum, she does have some wise words for other parents coming back from leave.

“Communicate your needs with your employer and keep the dialogue open.”

Rhiannon said the best thing she did during her toughest times was letting her managers know what was happening. This meant that the team understood the pressure she was under, and were more than happy to help out. On the days where Rhiannon hasn’t had much sleep due to a restless Grayson, the team have taken into account her zombie-like state and have supported her through those moments.

It’s worth noting that many mums struggle to return to work after their baby is born. We are lucky at Adaptiv that our managers are also parents so have navigated their way through working and raising children. Because of this, they understood Rhiannon’s situation.

“A good company, and one worth working for, will accommodate you and lessen the burden of being a working mum however they can,” says Rhiannon.

It’s only the start

Rhiannon is only at the start of her working mum journey, and we expect that there will be a few more surprises to do with parenting along the way. She still has the ‘terrible twos’ to look forward to. And we guarantee these will come around faster than you can say ‘application integration’.

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