Written by Maria Hui, Director, Marketing and Operations (M&O), Microsoft Hong Kong
Today is the Global Day of Parents and I would like to share kudos to all parents for surviving more than a year of pandemic – juggling between remote working, and remote learning for their kids, as well as other personal duties during a lot of uncertainty.
Finding the right balance between family and work during a pandemic can be a constant struggle, especially since remote work from kitchen counters, living rooms, and spare rooms have made our jobs almost a fixture of our homelife. Microsoft global data on hybrid working found 56% of working mums around the world were finding it difficult to adjust to this new reality.
Microsoft Hong Kong began offering flexible working options to our colleagues in 2005, long before the pandemic began. Our colleagues are empowered by our technology and we have given them the option to work anywhere, anytime since their first day joining us. With our culture based on values of empathy, inclusion, and trust, we provide a platform for our colleagues to shine while they balance their roles as working parents.
We allow our colleagues to focus on their impact and contribution, rather than working hours, by asking ourselves questions about how we can work as a team. How do we enable others to shine? How can I go the extra mile to support other teams / initiatives that are beyond my normal day-to-day work? These are stretched assignments we give to our colleagues so they can bring bigger impact and purpose in their daily work life.
Inspiration from parents at Microsoft Hong Kong
We know that every parent faces a different set of circumstances and responsibilities, which is why it is important to share insights and stories from around the company to build empathy and to empower ourselves to see things from another’s perspective.
A few of the parents at Microsoft Hong Kong have shared with me their own stories of parenthood during the pandemic. Please join me in celebrating what can be achieved when technology and a values-based culture can empower us to work anywhere, anytime.
Flornia Lee, Account Executive , and mum of two children aged 11 and 5
“Homeschooling my kids while working remotely has been a challenge at the best of times, and I’ve learned to accept that nothing will go to plan, but that’s okay. While we shouldn’t expect perfection, we should use the tools we have to manage the chaos as much as we can. Without technology and a lot of empathy from my coworkers, I don’t know how I would cope. Microsoft understands that everyone’s situation is different, and Teams allows us to work collaboratively according to our own schedules. I am able to rethink how I divide my time between work and childcare, working in the early mornings and late evenings when I can find more time for myself. This means I can remain productive throughout the day but on flexible terms that allow time for family and childcare.”
“Achieving work-family balance is part of Microsoft’s culture, but it’s up to every employee to identify their important moments and communicate their solution to their managers and counterparts. It really depends on what people want from their lives. In my case, Teams and Security from M365 have made work much more intentional and impactful, allowing me to spend more time with my kid. My advice to other working parents would be to choose how you work according to your own priorities in life. For me, Microsoft has been a perfect fit to accomplish this.”
Rita Ngai, Head of Communications at Microsoft Hong Kong, and mum with two under two children
“Returning to work after 20 weeks of maternity leave (twice!) meant I had to adjust quickly to life at work while trying to meet the physical demands of motherhood. I am so thankful for the support I have received from my managers and colleagues since then. The transition to a “new normal” hasn’t felt like a disruptive shift, more like a test of Microsoft’s parent support networks and flexible working policy. This support has been hugely beneficial on a day-to-day basis, managing my schedule and enabling conversations with my coworkers about my conflicting work and home schedules.”
By introducing sustainable family-friendly workplace policies and practices, powered the right tools and resources, we are in a better position to promote a healthy work-life balance and create an inclusive workplace.