If you're wondering where we've been, you're not alone. This is my first blog post in awhile. And the rest of our team has been the same way--heads down, working, and growing this little thing we call exaqueo. I'll say it up front: this post is personal for me.
When I left my corporate gig in 2011, my goal was to create a premier employer brand offering, one grounded in research and insight from being on the inside. Since then we've made waves with our work in culture and become known for helping our brand clients build talent strategies that actually align with their employer brands.
But here's the thing. It's not all about the work.
My other major goal in building this company was to create a place where I could grow a flexible team. A team with a strong work ethic, where I could reward that hard work no matter where, when and how it got done.
See, I was never a 9-to-5 kind of gal. My best work is often done late at night or on Saturday morning with a strong cup of coffee. Sometimes I need 90 minutes at lunchtime to do yoga. Or, I need the 9-10 a.m. hour to unwind in front of morning television. I couldn't do that in corporate confines where I was required to be in my office by 9 a.m.
Sure, our clients often require meetings at certain hours or times. And I'm happy to oblige them. But I'm also happy to oblige our team and myself when life requires it. Now, over three years later, I'm so pleased to say we've done it.
Nine months ago, my colleague Lexi and I were chatting after a client call. I eagerly shared with her the news that I was expecting my first baby. Guess what...she was too! Most entrepreneurs or small business leaders would have a coronary--two key employees needing to be out at the same time? Two key employees who would have new family and time demands?
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't freaked out.
Fast foward to today: Lucy (Lexi's daughter) and Scarlett (my daughter) are both 4 months old. Everything has changed: diapers, daycare, narcolepsy, love. And yet nothing has changed: we're still delivering great work to our clients. We've added more flexible staff and laughed off the random yawns or incidences of "mommy brain."
Our work is just as great as it was before. And we got better.
Yet, most of the world sees this as a no go. We are constantly in a mode of begrudging acceptance in the workplace: lack of maternity leave, marriage to our email inboxes and the standard 9-to-5 schedule. But our own research here at exaqueo tells us that work life balance isn't just a trend. And so does my own experience: My last Fortune 500 employer didn't offer paid maternity leave. And my request for a flexible work schedule was turned down. I walked away.
When employees don't find work-life balance, they walk away or suck it up.
That either makes your talent pool smaller or less engaged. Sounds like a lose-lose situation to me. So when I see people like my friend Mary Ellen Slayter, CEO of Reputation Capital Media, bucking the trend of acceptance I jump for joy. If you haven't read her article in Fast Company (How Our Small Startup Affords to Offer Paid Maternity Leave), you should.
I'm reminded that no matter how big or small, we CAN create workplaces that work. We can step up and accept that revenues might be a bit smaller but we might be a great deal happier. And that makes for one happy--and hard-working--mama.
exaqueo is full of happy parents and kids. Meet some of the family members that bring our team joy: