27 July 2014

I don’t know whether there’s something in the water here at UKFast Campus, but last week two members of the team brought babies into the world – a boy and a girl – who, funnily enough, were exactly the same weight! Congratulations to you both, Liz and Kelly. I hope you’re reading this with your feet up and a smile on your face.

It’s amazing to think how fast things change. As a businessperson, you’re often measured on the profit your make. Yet, I think the best way to measure a company is by its energy, and bringing family and friends into the culture is a great way to create it. We recently hired the daughter of one of our longest standing team members and a good friend of mine. When I found out she’d said, “I want to work for the same company as my dad” I just thought wow! It really is the greatest compliment.

Refusing to leave the Kids' area!

My girls hold their own meeting in the UKFast Kids’ zone

In a way, it feels like a natural progression to have people’s kids growing up and joining us on this journey. My own kids are 10, 8 and 2, and are already totally fixated on the idea of working at UKFast. You might think I’m joking when I say this, but they’ve been in training sessions before now, through force of curiosity, wanting to see what their parents are doing. They frequently contribute ideas and their enthusiasm is infectious. Kids don’t say kids for long, which is why we wanted to create the UKFast Kids’ space. In fact, one of the team actually had their son’s birthday here, which is just great to see.

Party time at UKFast Campus!

Party time at UKFast Campus!

When I was younger we’d have to wait in the car park if we ever went to my dad’s workplace. When you compare that with now, I think it’s fair to say that things are changing. I heard that a Lib Dem MP recently took his baby into the voting lobby in the House of Commons. Reading further, I realised that Duncan Hames, the MP, is actually the husband of Jo Swinson, who came in to open our crèche area at UKFast Campus!

It’s a small world, and one that is moving slowly towards the creation of more child friendly workplaces.When you think about it, this could actually be really beneficial. Kids create an enormous amount of energy; a key ingredient that’s missing from some businesses.

Having the sense of fun – of a home environment with games and competition everywhere – keeps people happy and fresh. It’s great to see people who have worked with us for years having children now, and it’s up to us to encourage them to come back. In my experience, they often come back with even better managerial skills than they left with.

Looking after a newborn means they’re getting trained in managing complex situations and juggling priorities almost automatically! I think you could even go as far as to suggest that new parents are the managers of the future. Why? Well, if you think about it, they’ve had a natural, organic training period of caring, observing, operating under pressure and dealing with change, as well as the hundreds of other lessons learnt during parenthood.

This isn’t to say that people who choose not to have children are any less capable – there are many life situations that change you – but it’s important to not discount the enriching and eye-opening experience that parents have. It’s just one of the reasons why, as a business, you’ve got to fight to get new parents back and let them know that they can have the best of both worlds. I’m looking forward to discovering what the next ten years might hold, and I’m willing to bet the two new UKFast mums are feeling exactly the same!

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