Motherhood is often something that’s perceived as challenging and full of sacrifice by society. This is an idea that unavoidably puts women under pressure, and men who are fathers underestimated.
Women are demanded to have the can-do attitude, expected to juggle multiple hats. This is especially true for mothers who choose to continue their career; an option that is still being frowned upon by the society, particularly in Indonesia.
But one co-working space begs to differ. Located at the heart of South Jakarta, the busy capital of Indonesia, the co-working space says that women can have their career and raise their kids at the same time.
Audira Amanda chats with e27 about how her own experience with motherhood led her to open Workplay, a shelter for parents, mothers especially, to come and meet other mothers and take few hours of the day to work uninterrupted, leaving their children in a capable hand.
Becoming working-from-home mothers
“I never thought of opening a co-working place before I was married. And then I became a mother, and I knew in my heart I wanted to be with my child all the way. So I decided to become a full time mom,” Amanda opens up.
She gave up her career for a year to be fully present with her now-toddler son, only to find that she felt stuck right when her kid reached toddler age.
“I didn’t feel productive. I want to go back, but the guilt of having to leave my child if I go back to work was making me uncomfortable,” she says.
She was sure that she could not possibly be the only one feeling the so-called mom-guilt, and it has inspired her to build the co-working space.
“I believe that women want to stay productive while taking care of their child. Many women start a business from home or become a freelancer working from home, and even this choice still does not help them with productivity,” Amanda says.
Based on experience, working from home for mothers will always be full of distraction. “Basically, it is impossible for mothers to be able to focus on one thing. As a result, we couldn’t focus on either delivering our work or simply playing with our kids,” she points out.
The idea of support system
More than anything, mothers need support system. Mothers who are working in an office will need someone they trust to take care of their children.
“But what about mothers who are working from home? They also need a support system because being at home will confuse their children as to ‘why Mommy can’t be with me while she’s at home’,” Amanda explains.
Families are simply unavailable to watch for your children, deadlines are approaching, while hiring nannies is not an affordable option — these are all normal challenges working mothers face daily.
“It occurred to me that working moms often only need at least two uninterrupted hours to wrap up their work with laser focus. But two hours of uninterrupted focus are something of a luxury for them,” Amanda says.
“I was thinking of a solution, and why don’t just make it into a place for working-from-home parents or freelancers to work and still be around their kids at the same time,” she recalls her first a-ha moment with Workplay.
“The funny thing is, parents often mistake us as a childcare facility,” Amanda says about the place that would turn three-months-old this end of year.
“We’re not there yet,” she adds.
Workplay offers membership for parents to choose. The available options are Work, Workplay, or Play.
Work is for working while bringing your child over, Workplay is for working and giving your child access to the play area facility, and Play is for using the play area facility only.
Parents can fill out online form on their website or come directly to the place to register or just use the facility without becoming a member.
For daily pass, parents can choose between three-day pass, 20-hour pass to flexibly and efficiently choose the hours they want to work within a day, or one day pass for 30 days validity.
“We understand that sometimes parents may only need to work for three days, sometimes even just a few hours a day. So we give options that will cater to that need of time flexibility,” explains Amanda.
As for the kids, parents who come to Workplay can be at ease knowing that their kids are in good hands.
Workplay’s child play area is supervised by a professional child supervisor and Montessori consultants that will not only take care of the children in the play area, but also will offer children different activities daily to encourage learning.
“We offer art and craft and sensory play that are varied everyday, aimed at two- to five-year-old children for now,” Amanda elaborates.
The following are Workplay’s facilities:
Workplay also provides free-flow coffee, child-friendly bathrooms, function rooms, and event space available for rent.
Amanda says that there are still not many spaces that facilitate parents, especially mothers. “I believe Workplay can be a place where mothers meet each other as support system and to get the support to be productive and close with their kid still,” she adds.
Workplay often hosts events for mothers that are not work-related. “Sometimes fathers would come along to use the work facility, while mothers would join seminars and kids play in our play area. Everyone gets their portion here,” says Amanda.
As a mother, Audira knows the difficulty in working with kids and the constant worry of looking for someone reliable to supervise their kids. This continues even until the kids are old enough to go to school, where parents have to commute to get their kids.
“Some mothers approached me saying thank you for the place, because they feel like this is an answer for their guilt of leaving their kids for work,” says Amanda.
The future for Workplay
When asked whether or not the company is open for future investment, Audira was enthusiastic but realistic about the possibility.
“We just open for public on September 4 this year. We don’t want to rush it. I think funding can wait for two to three years,” she says.
Workplay plans to turn its play area into a child care. The company believes by doing so, they can even better facilitate working parents.
“With a child care setting, the kids will be taken care of for things like meal time and learning time. This will greatly eliminate working distraction for parents,” Amanda elaborates.
Towards the end of the conversation, Audira admits that Workplay exists out of her concern about the unfriendliness of working space for mothers.
“Women who are working a full time job and are moms only need one thing: Being understood. For example, for something as simple as pumping your breast milk in the office. A lot of nursing moms still have to go to bathroom to do this around the clock, only to be left out in the dark about how to store them so it won’t go to waste if they aren’t equipped with cooler box. It’s their children’s needs, and still women are doing it on their own with the lack of support,” she explains.
Amanda thinks corporations should really pay attention by giving the proper support and facilities.
“I think the least they can do is provide the place to store the breast milk so women won’t have to worry anymore about it,” she opines.
“If the company wishes to retain their employees then this is what they should do: Start supporting mothers,” she stresses.
Leaving their children is a great sacrifice for mothers. On this matter, Amanda believes that working mothers should be given the flexibility of working from home.
“Indonesia’s companies still value showing up five days a week as a standard employment requirement. This actually causes fear for many women to get pregnant because it may cause them their job,” she points out.
“Supporting women, supporting mothers may actually be the key of eliminating high turnover rate,” Amanda closes.
Image Credit: Workplay