Sunday, March 13, 2011

Working from Home

I haven't written too much about what I do, but I work in Diversity and Inclusion at Standard Chartered Bank. Our bank has about 80,000 employees, and we do 90% of our business in Asia, Africa and the Middle East (but really mostly Asia). My group works within the company, with customers and in the community. In the company, we focus on gender, nationality and disability (more on that later). With customers we look at accessibility of our products and services (i.e. for those with disabilities or women who can't get collateral for a loan in a place where the government requires it, etc), and in the community we mostly look at financial inclusion, particularly with women and girls. I have to say that it's a pretty cool job, doing really interesting work.

Why am I telling you this now? Well, one of our focuses in the Bank is looking at women. We have to start by understanding that women don't go into finance as much as men, so that will automatically skew our numbers. Generally in this field, women start strongish in the lower positions, and as the opportunity comes to move up, they drop out. In middle management there is mostly good representation, but as you get to senior management positions, it's hard to keep women around. Research says that a big challenge for women is balancing work with their family (duh). So, we look at what we can do to keep quality women in our bank. One of our solutions is flexible working, which we're working on right now. In our bank it's defined as working from home, flexible hours or part time.

While on maternity leave I was trying to think about what might make working and having Sam a bit easier, so I thought it might be a good idea to apply to work from home for a couple of days a week. I started doing this about two weeks ago, and it has vastly improved my quality of life. I personally believe that offering solutions like this WILL keep women in a company. Let me explain.

Before working from home (for about three weeks), my week was so hectic, I could barely keep up, and ALL I was doing was working (about 9.5 - 10 hours a day, which is slacking in my office) and "managing" Sam's care. I woke up at 6:30, ate, pumped, ran to work (usually leaving around 7:30 or so without seeing Sam), worked all day (with lots of pumping thrown in), RAN home so that I could get a quality five minutes with her before I threw her in the bath and nursed her and put her to bed. She was usually in bed around 8, I would eat dinner and have about a half hour to relax and then I would have to start going to bed (shower, pump) in order to be ready to wake up at 4 to feed Sam and not feel like too much of a zombie the next day. (She has started to sleep through the night most nights which has also VASTLY improved my quality of life...). It was like this. Everyday. For five days. Come Friday, I was totally exhausted, and the weekends didn't provide enough relaxation for me. Disastrous.

Now, I have started to work from home on Mondays and Fridays. This means that I only have to dress for work THREE times a week (which is great for a person with limited who's too lazy to buy more work clothes). It means that on Monday and Friday I can sleep until 7:30, as I don't have a commute. I can get up and eat right away and get right online to start going through emails. When Sam wakes up I can actually see her, dress her, and I can take her to go get coffee. I then hand her off to Rose to take care of until she wants to eat. I can then spend about a half hour or 40 minutes with her in the evening (no commute...) before she goes to bed, and she can actually go to bed when she's tired rather than waiting for me to come home.

Workwise, I go in the office/extra bedroom, I shut the door, put on Michigan Radio (which is mostly the BBC at these hours) and I can plow through work. The day flies. I'm so much more comfortable, and it's totally productive, AND I get to not feel like I'm a terrible mom. Working from home rocks so far.

In other news, my parents left a few weeks ago, and Matt's parents are coming this week.

In yet other news, we have been trying food with Sam - trying about once per day. We have tried rice cereal, bananas, rice cereal + bananas, carrots...she's not so into it. She sometimes appeases me, but I think we'll take it easy on the eating front. She does, on the other hand, love drinking water. I think she mostly likes it because we give it to her in a different bottle/cup, and it has handles, so she can feed herself. She's already asserting her independence.

She's starting to get a bit of a stranger/new person fear, which isn't too cool. She gets a little pout when she gets scared and if we don't take her back she will have a small flip out. The Baby Center said that we just need to take it slow with new people. This made us go to a really nice Purim party yesterday and also take her to the mall today. I want to push her on this one, but I know it's a stage.

She is still a super singer/talker. She spends most days screeching and singing (the neighbors commented that they didn't hear her for her first four months...). She also loves playing with just about anything. She moves all over the place but isn't crawling (somehow she does MOVE, but it's like a snail - you can't see it happening, but then you realize she's in a different place than she started). She's pretty darn cute, if I may say so myself. Click here for her 3-6 month photo album.

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