Q&A with parents in Axess
At Axess Group, we strive to create a supportive and flexible environment that enables everyone to achieve a healthy work-life balance. In this article, 5 parents in the company share about their experiences juggling their roles as parents and employees, and their favourite outdoor activities.
What does a typical weekday/weekend in your life look like?
Kristine: During the first few months after coming back from maternity leave, I returned home for breastfeeding during lunchtime every day. I was lucky to live close enough to the office to be able to do that. After lunch, I headed back to the office to finish the work day.
More recently, as we await a spot in kindergarten, I have shouldered the responsibilities of parenting during the day, while working full-time during the night for six months.
Tom: I am usually up before any of my kids wake up, to get ready for the day, and to get breakfast and lunches ready for the three kids who go to school. The office is only a short distance from my home, so I typically arrive between 7.30 am and 8 am.
We stay busy on weekday evenings by taking the older kids to sporting practices and activities. On weekends, we do various things as a family, such as going to the beach, taking the kids to the zoo, and playing at the parks.
What is work-life balance to you?
Fergus: To me, it is being able to choose the way I structure my time to meet my work obligations and deadlines as well as juggling family life. Often this does not mean sitting at my desk between 9 am to 6 pm each day, but instead being flexible and working with the time available to me. Sometimes, this means leaving the office at 4.30 pm so that I am able to attend my child’s school concert and then picking things back up again after the kids are in bed. Work should not be about when you check in and check out in a day, but rather, the ability to deliver your work.
Gayle: It is not something that is achieved in a single day. Sometimes the balance will shift toward work, and sometimes it will shift toward personal life.
Kristine: To me, work-life balance is when you can maintain your passions in life and your passions at work at the same time. When something exciting is happening at work, I gladly work a little extra to see it through, knowing that I may leave early another day e.g., when the surf is good.
How has our workplace culture helped you to achieve work-life balance?
Alex: Receiving generous parental leave and having complete flexibility in my work schedule have allowed me to remain passionate in my work role whilst still adapting to life as a new parent.
Fergus: Axess has always had a flexible working culture, there is no one who micromanages you to work the traditional 8 hours a day. The culture gives you the freedom to deliver your work in the best way possible for the company. This type of open and flexible environment breeds a good work-life balance which is critical when raising a young family, as parenting is a full-time job too!
Gayle: Just as the nature of our industry requires us to be dynamic, a baby can be unpredictable too. Flexibility allows me to manage the needs of both.
Kristine: Axess fosters a flexible work environment, driven by the company's trust in its employees to thrive and excel in their roles. As a result, the company has accommodated my needs to work full-time at night, outside of the regular working hours, while we eagerly anticipate a spot in kindergarten.
Have you faced any challenges as a working parent and how did you overcome them?
Alex: It is demanding to be a first-time parent while in a period of high growth for the company, but good family support and a flexible work schedule allow us to keep our heads above water when it matters the most.
Fergus: Having 4 children is very difficult, especially having 4 under 4 years old! There have been many challenges along the way, but having support at home has made my life a lot easier.
That being said, there are a number of times when there are emergencies, like illness, which meant that I have to clear my meetings for the day or simply excuse myself to attend to the needs of my family. Thankfully, our clients and colleagues understand that family comes first – this is especially so in Australia where there is a big emphasis on family and togetherness.
One area which is particularly challenging with having young children, is business travel. I strongly believe face-to-face meetings with clients and colleagues yield better results than video conferences as you can gauge body language, enjoy each other’s company, and are not bound by any technological glitches.
Given that, I try to get the best balance of both, which often means regular international travel. Having a young family at home while I travel can be hard on my wife as she manages all the children solo, and I also naturally miss them. To minimise the strain and disruption, I make an effort to travel over weekdays and be back for the weekend. This can sometimes mean a very hectic flight schedule and many nights on a plane to fit the agenda in. I also try and plan my trips around day care days to ensure my wife has additional support.
Extended family is a necessity in these situations, and I am fortunate to have a very supportive family who can step in whilst I am away.
Kristine: The biggest challenge initially was learning to make it back home at a set time. There were times when meetings overran, but I was expected at home. In the beginning, it felt like I was not coping well either at work or at home, but it did not take long to find new routines that worked for us.
What outdoor activities do you enjoy and how do you find time for them?
Alex: Motorbike endurance riding. Time for outdoor activities is not always possible, but it is important to make time for it, to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Fergus: I really enjoy cycling and used to fit in at least 3 early morning rides a week prior to the twins’ birth. Currently finding time in the schedule to cycle is very challenging, but as we get more efficient with the kids’ routine, there is always a spare 30 minutes for some kind of activity – I just need to be disciplined, which can be hard after a long day or disrupted nights!
Gayle: We started indoor swimming lessons with our child last year to get her ready for summer.
Kristine: I love to go cross-country skiing, hiking, surfing, and a lot more. I have found that it is a lot more convenient to do activities where you can bring the baby along, and bouldering has been the perfect family activity for us recently.
Tom: I enjoy riding my bike, jogging, fishing, and playing ice hockey. I can do some of these activities with my kids, which is fun. I also work with my wife to take turns exercising so we both get the opportunity to do things individually.