Embracing parenthood in the workplace: My journey at Wholegrain Digital

Written by Marketa Benisek - May 24, 2023

This month marks my first work anniversary at Wholegrain Digital and, reflecting on my journey, I am filled with gratitude for the support and understanding I have received as a working parent.

Joining the company was unexpected, considering I was on maternity leave, completing a degree in Environment, Politics and Development, and planning an international move from London to Prague. However, Wholegrain Digital offered me a brand new role aligned with my passion for digital sustainability. In this article, I want to share my experience as a working parent and emphasise the importance of empathy and tolerance in the workplace.

Unexpected beginnings

When the opportunity at Wholegrain Digital came out of the blue, I was still on maternity leave without a nursery for my child. However, this was not a barrier for Tom, Vineeta and the rest of the team. I began attending meetings at the office in Somerset House every Thursday, bringing my little one, Olivia, with me. In the first few weeks, Olivia would snuggle up in a baby carrier during most meetings. I was fortunate to have a sociable and content baby who only occasionally required some soothing. But more importantly, the team members were incredibly tolerant, flexible and kind, accommodating my and Olivia’s needs.

Diversity Includes Parents

Before becoming a parent, I had never truly understood the challenges of merging parenting and work life. It baffles me how little the topic of working parents is discussed, considering the difficulties it entails. Let me be clear, I chose to be a parent, and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. However, being a working parent with constant sleep deprivation and minimal breaks poses unique challenges. I’m not seeking sympathy or solutions, but rather an open conversation and a bit of empathy and tolerance from others.

At Wholegrain Digital, I was fortunate enough to receive the understanding and support I needed from all my colleagues. The fact that I could bring Olivia along during those initial weeks of joining the company meant the world to me for two reasons. First, my team could meet my kid and be present with me in my new role, as a working (and studying) Mum. And second, it was so important to me to have these few weeks to gradually transition back into the work routine, rekindling my excitement about balancing work and parenthood.

Tom and Vineeta, Wholegrain Digital’s co-founders, have been exceptionally kind and tolerant whenever I faced challenges on my parenting journey. Flexibility was all I needed as a working parent, and Wholegrain Digital delivered. Starting and finishing early to drop off and pick up Olivia from the nursery or replying to emails and completing tasks late at night was never an issue. The company’s accommodating nature has been invaluable.

Embracing working parents

Our team includes many working parents, each with their unique stories. By sharing these stories, we allow ourselves to understand the realities of our lives outside of work, which makes the team more connected. Everything we experience has a profound impact on our job performance, and given what Brené Brown has been telling us, it all begins with understanding, empathy and creating a work environment where shame doesn’t have a place.

I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to transition back to work gradually and for my team members to have met my child, who has completely changed my life. The team has shown remarkable tolerance even during times when sleep deprivation levels reached an all time low and I couldn’t properly remember even my name, let alone a conversation from last week!

Becoming a parent has been a transformative experience, and I never imagined I would be writing this article. Parenthood is one of those life-changing journeys that can only be understood through personal experience. While this article may not be relevant to those who are not parents, it hopefully offers a glimpse into my world as a working parent. Next time you encounter an exhausted working parent, please try to be understanding and tolerant. A little empathy (and an extra large coffee! 🙂) can go a long way, it certainly has done for me.