For the third year running, Polycom Asia Pacific has won an award in the search for 'Best Companies for Mums 2015' by the NTUC Women's Development Secretariat and supported by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP). Together with two of my colleagues, our nominations for this award win stemmed from a common thread – the empowerment and liberation we experience as working mothers, enabled through the power of collaboration technology.
The Best Companies for Mums awards ceremony recognises exemplary companies, supervisors and colleagues who have made a positive difference to the daily lives of working mums and dads.
This year’s win is especially meaningful for me for a couple of great reasons:
1) Winning in the category of 'Most Empowering Company for Mums' with two other colleagues who are full-time working mothers - Mei Lin Low and Christina Tan, Head of Partner Marketing, APJ. Here, I have reproduced excerpts from our testimonies which demonstrate the role of technology in our lives:
I am a working mother of three daughters with ages ranging from 9 to 12. Trying to juggle a full-time job, minding three kids and managing a household are energy sapping and very challenging. Thanks to the flexi work practices at Polycom, I am able to perform my roles adequately and confidently. Creative planning and coordination are required and with Polycom’s technology in unified communications , I can attend video meetings and work wherever I am – be it at home, at a café while waiting for one of my kids to finish class, or at the hospital while caring for my dad when he was admitted for a heart problem. Polycom’s flexi work practices and culture have provided me the peace of mind to perform my life’s roles with ease.
This picture was taken at 10.11am on a working, Wednesday morning. Not a typical scene from my office, which is exactly the point I’m trying to make. I was working from the lobby of a kindergarten. My second child, Julian, was attending his second day, ever, of playschool and I had been requested by the school, to standby in case he was inconsolable.
Polycom’s flexible working policies and trust-led culture allowed me to decide where I wanted to work from and when I wanted to do so. The organisation trusted that I would be productive, diligent and professional regardless of my location.
And here’s mine:
Many enterprises in Singapore face challenges in talent retention. Often, the heart of the matter is an inability to groom successors within the organisation and provide sufficient runway for employee careers. When long-time employees leave for greener pastures, companies experience a huge loss in institutional knowledge, continuity and productivity. I’ve been in the company since 2009. Got married in 2011, had my first baby in 2012. Polycom supported me through many milestones in my life and like many other mothers I might have felt that juggling a career and baby is impossible and opt out of the workforce either for life or for a while especially when Polycom’s office shifted to Changi Business Park. Polycom’s flexible working policies allow me to work from a location of my choice and trusted my professional judgement and capabilities. I therefore feel empowered to maximise my time, equipped with my trusty video-enabled laptop in executing my work. Now, with my second baby on the way due in September, I have no qualms that I’ll be able to return to work again seamlessly.
2) This is another validation that work-life balance CAN exist in Singapore with the right state of mind from an employer’s point of view. Polycom’s culture in driving the Workplace of the Future as a state of mind rather than a physical location, has successfully integrated collaborative technology into the DNA of our operations. This allows us to create an “experience” that results from the convergence of technologies, people and processes into one seamless digital experience that helps balance our personal and professional lives to the very best of our abilities.
With this award, we are proud to join the leagues of other companies in Singapore which empower working women. I know not all working parents feel like they can stay on top of their career while juggling family commitments. I know that there are constant challenges especially for women in the workforce as well: many are faced with a hard choice to either progress in their career OR to have a family. The thought of having both seems a distant concept to some as I watched a recent “Talking Point” episode on TV aptly titled “Struggle to Juggle”. Many are skeptical and probably think work-life balance is a fairy tale and sad stories are told about how employers are even terminating women employees citing that their family commitments are inhibiting their contribution toward the company.
A comment that I would like to call out here is a management perspective on this by Mums@Work Singapore:
“it depends on management, the structure/ support in place. Having said that, out of more than 1000 flexi-positions that we have placed, those that fail are often because of the specific relationship between the direct supervisor and employee (So, even if management supported it, HR had the system, the job was redesigned, it still failed, because of that specific relationship)”
It is definitely also about trust between the employer and the employee, on top of how the job is designed and measured for success to take place. With many organisations that drive work-life balance awareness initiatives, (NTUC Women’s Development Secretariat , TAFEP, Mums@Work etc) I truly hope that this “theoretical concept” to some of us working parents, will soon become a workable reality to most.
Meanwhile, I’m off to celebrate our win with my colleagues and my family!