In December of 2018 I had reached my 12th month of maternity leave. It had been the most amazing year off with my son and it was nearing the time to return to work. As my return date approached, I was asked many times by family members and friends how I felt on returning to work and some people said they didn’t actually expect me to return to work full time. I was constantly reading articles on ‘how to cope with returning to work after having a baby’ that filled so many of the blogs that I was reading daily and like many new mums, questions popped into my head: Was I doing the right thing in going back to work? Would I be capable of jumping back into work life whilst juggling being a Mum? Don’t get me wrong, there were certainly moments where I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about returning; Max had been my sole focus for a whole year, and this was about to change. Overall though, in the end, I was comfortable with returning.
Not a daunting experience
Thankfully, I didn’t feel the daunting experience that I had read so many other new mums had gone through. My moments of doubt and worry were certainly outweighed by positive thoughts of going back and I believe this is down to my lovely colleagues and friends at DevOpsGroup.
From the start to end of my maternity leave, I felt like I was a valued member of DevOpsGroup. I was away from the business, yet still felt completely part of what was going on. Max and I would go on coffee dates, lunch dates and after work meals with colleagues. If we were in town we would pop into the office and say hello, and we were always made to feel welcome. I was invited to our monthly conferences, catch ups and events yet not pressured to attend. The team even managed to arrange my start date around the time of the Christmas party so that I could catch up with everyone in a relaxed setting before my start back. We had such a fun time that I left the party really looking forward to returning to work! This was so unlike many of my friends who were also off on maternity leave and were starting to attend their ‘keeping in touch days’, which were compulsory and often left them feeling quite overwhelmed and detached from the organisation after having been away from for so long.
Leading up to my return
During the lead up to my return, I was contacted more frequently by our lovely People team, and we discussed ideas of what my working week would look like for me moving forward. From a practical point of view, I wanted to be able to drop off and pick Max up from childcare as often as possible. As an organisation, we offer flexible and remote working and so my working week was adjusted so that I would work 2 days from home and 3 in the office, allowing me to drop Max to and from where he needed to be on a daily basis. It felt amazing that my company could do this for me! Those concerns over how I was going to fit everything in were put to bed, the team were helping me structure my working day around being a new Mum.
It wasn’t just the People team who were in contact more often in the lead up to my return, our onboarding specialist Stu also touched base with me regularly to make sure that I was all set. Onboarding ensures that new starters of the organisation have an exceptional experience from day one and throughout their journey at DevOpsGroup. In addition to making sure I was prepped for my return, it was quite evident that he had briefed the company that I would be returning, for on my first day, even those who had started whilst I had been away knew who I was – everyone was so welcoming and friendly, asking how my maternity leave had been and how Max was getting on which made me feel instantly at ease.
Returning back to work
My introduction back into DevOpsGroup was also tailored as to how I thought it would work best. I was the first person in the company returning to work following maternity leave, and Stu took into account what I felt would work best for me. As the company had grown so much whilst I had been away, I felt that it would be most beneficial to me if I took part in the onboarding programme like a ‘new starter’ – being shown every aspect of how the company was now operating. I had been away from the company for a year, so onboarding also gave me an opportunity to go over things which I had forgotten. I left onboarding feeling that I was completely up to date with everything, those small worries of ‘will I remember how to do my job?’ had completely gone away, I was ready to hit the ground running.
A few months down the line, I am now fully settled back into my work at DevOpsGroup. I’ve even taken on a new position within the company! I have weekly ‘one to one’ sessions with my manager where we discuss all aspects of my work, ensuring that I am happy and comfortable in all that I do. I feel so very lucky to be part of an organisation that welcomed me back from maternity leave allowing me to feel like I hadn’t been away. The flexibility and support they have offered me on my return to work has allowed me to establish the work life balance that makes me look forward to coming to work every day.