By Kady White
As the world has embraced the shift to remote work in a pandemic-era workforce, SmartBug® stands out as a seasoned veteran when it comes to building a culture and business around a fully remote team that transcends time zones and cube farms everywhere. Throughout my career, I have worked both brand-side and agency-side in office settings, ranging in structure from those with traditional Monday through Friday workweeks to more hybrid flexible arrangements, with part of the week in an office and part of the week from home. Like many others when COVID-19 continued to affect daily life, I became very comfortable with full-time remote work, and my day-to-day suddenly had a lot more time without a commute or the energy of preparing to head to work in an office environment.
Working at a Remote Agency and the Shift to Parenthood
For me, the biggest change came with expecting a new baby and becoming a new parent in a world we had assumed would eventually be back to “normal.” After welcoming my daughter into the world, I knew I wanted to continue to work and find an opportunity that gave me the best of both worlds: mom and marketing professional.
For many of my colleagues, remote work means the freedom to travel and work from anywhere in the world without worrying about using up PTO or accommodating traditional working hours. For me, SmartBug’s remote culture means not having to choose between actively parenting and having a fulfilling career.
A Typical Day as a Working Parent at a Remote Agency
The time I used to spend commuting, I can now spend having breakfast with my daughter or preparing a home-cooked meal (or preheating the oven to pop in a frozen pizza, because let’s be honest, sometimes you just have those days).
Here’s a rough schedule of what a typical workday looks like for me, as a working mom with an infant:
- 7:30 a.m.: Get my daughter out of bed and ready for her day with her grandparents
- 8:30 a.m.: Start my day going through emails, Slack, and project management updates
- 9:00 a.m.: Calls and meetings
- 12:00 p.m.: Lunch (and a bit of playtime if our caretakers are in-home that day)
- 12:30 p.m.: Wash bottles and pop in a load of laundry
- 1:00 p.m.: Heads down, focus time to knock out strategy work
- 3:30 p.m.: Go for a walk to stretch, get some fresh air, and take a mental break
- 4:00 p.m.: Review outstanding tasks for that day and get ready to wrap up
- 4:30 p.m.: Put my daughter down for her nap and get ready to make dinner
- 5:30 p.m.: Finish up the day and do any preparation for the following day
The Benefits of Remote Work While Parenting
The ability to take a break between tasks or meetings to complete a chore or an errand means that when I have free time in my life, I don’t have to spend it doing chores and errands. It also means more quality time with my family or more time for myself, which no office perk can replace. The flexibility and balance this provides in my everyday life is truly priceless.
There have been days where I have rocked my daughter to sleep while listening in to a meeting or training. I have so many opportunities to flex my multitasking muscles that create a work-life balance that I have not experienced elsewhere.
It Takes a Village: The Value of a Remote Work Support System
Being a working parent is hard without a solid support system. With a community of SmartBugs in a similar phase of life and a leadership team that truly encourages a healthy balance of work and life, there is no shortage of help.
I appreciate that I don’t have to worry about going to my manager to offer excuses if something child-related comes up. We even have a Slack channel to connect with other SmartBug parents to share support, photos, and celebrations of life’s milestones.
But don’t just take my word for it! I asked other SmartBug parents how our flexible remote culture makes being a working parent a more positive experience, and this is what they had to say:
“When my daughter was 3-5, we used to go to the park every evening in summer. I was able to spend time with her and connect with other moms there. It’s such a joy to be there for the kids always, while you are productive at work. I didn't have to choose one over the other, I could have both, and when they or I fell sick, I didn't have to use PTO. I could still work while making them comfortable.”
- Miranda George
“I have a son in third grade and a wife who has been working on the frontline in a pharmacy since the start of the pandemic. Knowing that I have an employer who is family-centric enough to allow me to get done what I need on the homefront to accommodate my wife's crazy schedule and my son's variety of school activities while still rocking it for our customers has made this time much less worrisome. Proud to be a Bug!”
- Kevin Apgar
“I have been back at full-time work since my daughter was six months old. She is now five. I had never felt so much appreciation for the working parents until starting here at SmartBug. The leadership team takes ‘family first’ very seriously, and in my first conversation with Ryan [Malone, CEO], it was clear they valued not only me as an employee but me as a parent as well, offering the flexibility to join the school functions and be on the field trips so I no longer feel like I have to pick employee over mom life!”
- Jackie Pfriender
“Being able to utilize flex time to be there for what is important to my twins is huge for me. It makes me feel like a super-mom when I am able to make time to join their field trips (while they still think I am cool). I have also noticed a huge difference in my relationship with my children, and my spouse who is also WFH, since switching to a company that values family and flex time. It all boils down to flexibility and time—being there for them has made us a stronger and happier family.”
- Paige Kummer
“I find that internal team members and clients alike are surprisingly accepting of kids (and pets!) on calls. Maybe the pandemic has helped normalize this behavior, but I appreciate it. They are a part of my life and sometimes a part of my work! It can help deepen internal and client relationships, and I love that it's normalized at SmartBug!”
- Ali Wert
“I have a toddler who suddenly has hit a rough patch with drop-off at daycare. Being able to flex my morning by starting work a little early and then taking him to school and actually having time to focus on him and make sure he’s ok emotionally as we part ways—instead of dropping him and rushing off to work—has been a perk that I will cherish forever.”
- Nicki Kamau
“I always do something outside with my 13-year-old after work—lately it has been tossing a baseball or playing bocce ball. He usually gets home around 3:30 and does his homework. By the time I'm off of work, it's outside time.”
- Abe Schmidt
“I have hard-and-fast dinner and bedtime boundaries. Working from home, it can be easy to ‘never leave the office.’ From 5-9 p.m., it's family time. If I need to sign back in after bedtime, I can, but I find almost everything can wait until the morning.”
- Kristin Grages
“For me, something as simple as being able to step out and grab a snack or throw a ball around with my boys between calls just reenergizes me.”
- Jeff Ostiguy
A day in the life of a working parent at SmartBug can look different day to day, but that’s because life happens when you least expect it. Although it isn’t listed as an official part of our benefits package, the peace of mind I get from having the support of my peers to simultaneously do good work and be more involved in my daughter’s life makes me feel like the best possible version of myself.
By the way ... we’re hiring!