Over the last few weeks we have been running Friday posts about flexible working for Mums. Last Friday we had a post from The Working Mums Coach about the dangers of using the terms ‘work/life balance’ and last Wednesday we asked whether you could or would take your child to work. Today, we have a post from Work Free a new innitiative who are blazing the trail with a flexible workspace which includes on site child care… could it be the answer to all our problems?
Balancing life, work and parenting can be tricky; combine this with childcare costs – even more so. I have been in a fortunate position to be a full-time working mum of 2, with a husband that looks after our children. However, never far from my mind was a better work-life balance.
In 2011, I took voluntary redundancy and set up Think Future; specialising in anticipating future trends in work styles. More and more, parents want flexible working, and with freelancing becoming increasingly popular; childcare needs to become more affordable.
The Work Free concept then came about. I had followed the rise of co-working spaces where people who worked on their own could come and work together. They are great spaces, full of interesting, motivated people brimming with ideas. However, what about parents that want to join in, but can’t go because they can’t afford childcare? I wanted to solve two problems – co-working spaces that had a crèche so designed for parents – and affordable childcare.
Our first project has been The Library Lab in Willesden Green, London – a regeneration project funded by Brent Council. The project includes a co-working space and our Work Free pop-up crèche. Not only has it attracted working parents, but parents who need a bit of time without a child on their lap so they can pay bills online, search for jobs, or just do their general admin.
The Library uses the space for the evenings, so our crèche has been designed so it literally ‘pops-up and pops down’. If there is an event in the evening, our crèche comes down and packed up easily. With the help of Architecture 00:/. who were also on the project, it has been designed so that whilst flexible, it has secure doors so the children can’t get out, but a mesh wall so that parents can see in. We wanted to be innovative so the mesh wall allows parents to have closeness to their children, but the ability to get on and
At the moment, we have been fortunate enough that the crèche and co-working space at the library are free due to the council funding. We know that a lot of public buildings remain unused; we hope that other councils will see how this project could be a worthwhile investment for their own community.
But it’s not just council funded projects. We’re talking to other co-working spaces in order to help them make their space more flexible. Introducing different ideas and opportunities to use a Work Free crèche, allowing freelancers and working parents have a better work-life balance.
Work Free is all about enabling parents to share affordable and flexible workspace with childcare. We’re looking to the future and want businesses to join us.
Gaynor and the Work Free team.
To find out more about the Library Lab project – click here. http://librarylablondon.wordpress.com/
For more info on Work Free, check out http://workingfree.co/ or follow us on Twitter @WorkFreeUK