A co-working space with a separate crèche area is allowing new mums to comfortably transition back into the workforce.
The return to work after parental leave can be brutal as you’re wrenched away from your baby and return to the almost foreign world of work to which you once belonged. So what if there was a place where you could ease that transition, by both working productively and having your child nearby?
This was the thought that spurred Meg Burrage on to create BubDesk, when the career-driven mum realised her return to work was not quite as rosy as she’d imagined.
“I went back to work when Ollie was six-months-old and I quite enjoyed it at the beginning, you know, getting out of the house without a nappy bag and being able to do coffees in the city, I loved that,” Meg says. “But after a few months, it wore a bit thin and I started to understand why so many parents burn out. You’re trying to get your child ready for daycare and then make it to work, and then they get sick and there just wasn’t enough flexibility in that model.”
Meg wanted a space where she wasn’t separated from her baby all day and constantly feeling like she was putting work first, which was creating the all too common “mum guilt”. So she delved into her corporate expertise and came up with a prototype for a co-working space that would allow a mixture of small business owners, entrepreneurs and corporate staff on parental leave to work (and network) while their children were cared for in a separate area.
“It’s more than a desk and a crèche though,” Meg says. “It’s about companies consolidating their efforts so their staff returning to work can share in development programs, go through training, mentoring and coaching, and all the things that help them get back into the workforce in the right mindset.”
Another key aspect of BubDesk is the opportunity to network with working parents and experts from other industries you might not otherwise meet. Since BubDesk opened in February at its Northbridge location, not only have parents jumped onboard, but solo entrepreneurs, students and freelancers have booked desks.
The demand from innovative companies searching for ways to ease the transition back to work for new parents has prompted Meg to search for a new Perth CBD location, which is forecasted to open in February.
“Corporate businesses are starting to realise they can get ahead of the curve to get the gender diversity right and encourage females into those leadership positions,” Meg explains. “Eighty percent of the staff we’ve surveyed said they’d go back to work three months earlier and at least one or two days extra when they can work flexibly nearby their child. When they take 12 months out of work, or more, they often come back wanting really part-time, lesser roles because I think they lose confidence, so the earlier you can engage with them just makes sense for the business and the employee.”
With the opportunity to buy annual memberships, businesses are able to secure crèche or daycare facilities for staff so those who are returning from parental leave or require emergency care.
“When Grandma falls through or you get called in to work on a day you wouldn’t normally work and all of a sudden you need care for one random day, BubDesk is really flexible so for corporates who have memberships, we always have a space for them in the crèche or daycare, and for those who book in on a day-to-day basis we take them if there’s space,” Meg says.
There are also plans for BubDesk to extend their daycare facility to cater for school holidays so parents can come to the space with their primary school age kids and work, while their children are doing entrepreneurial-style activities.
Through the power of &, BubDesk creates a positive space for new parents to connect, feel empowered and able to return to jobs they once felt passionate about, all while having their children just a few steps away.
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