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Being a working parent at Storyblok during the COVID-19 pandemic

Life at Storyblok
Doris Tiefenthaler
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My name is Doris, I am from Austria and I am a 38 years old married mother of two little children. After many years of experience as a management accountant and financial analyst in different companies and fields, I am currently an accountant for five hours a week to support Lydia, our VP of Operations. Five hours a week doesn’t sound like much, especially for a workaholic by choice like myself, but with two kids - a three-year-old and a newborn of ten weeks, at the time I started to work at Storyblok, even going back to work for five hours became a challenge.

With children you can forget about having plans or sticking to a schedule because one thing is for sure: something unpredictable will happen. Children can be sick or they don’t want to sleep when they should. Or they could be in a foul mood because of a growth spurt, they’re in pain from teething, there is a sudden change in the weather, the moon (half-moon, full-moon, waxing moon, waning moon), or whatever. I knew that being a parent is demanding, but I had no idea how challenging it would be.

Section titled Starting at Storyblok when the unthinkable happens

For the first few days of my new job at Storyblok, when I needed to focus on my onboarding with Lydia, I arranged for my parents to come and stay for some days at my place. My older son would be at daycare and my infant son could stay with my parents, close to me in our flat while I was working.

And then the unpredictable happened. Even after we should be used to many months of living with a high level of uncertainty in a pandemic, it is still exhausting when our plans are thwarted. On the very day where I organized the last bits for my onboarding week, the Austrian government announced in a press conference that a hard lockdown would start on November 17th - just a day after my first day at Storyblok! That meant that daycare and schools closed down, there was a curfew for the whole day, and unless there were exceptional circumstances, we couldn’t leave the house.

After the initial moments of panic subsided, my husband and I discussed our options. I thought about talking to Lydia and postponing my first day at Storyblok to start after the lockdown ended. But my husband convinced me that we could make it work somehow. Unfortunately, my parents could no longer come to stay and take care of the baby. Instead, my husband decided that he would take some time off from his job while I had my onboarding. Luckily, the daycare also chose to operate on a skeleton service and offered to take care of our oldest son on my working days.

Fast forward to April 2021 and we somehow made it through many months of uncertainty. The onboarding process went well and now after months of working at Storyblok, I am really happy and I have a very interesting job that is fun. The challenge never stops, though. We move from one lockdown to another, from one extraordinary situation to the next. And during this pandemic you always have to think: what is best for the kids, my partner, the grandparents, the employer, heck, the whole society? Every step needs evaluation: Is it allowed by our government? Is it a tolerable risk? Do I endanger anyone? And is it the best for me?

Section titled Despite all the difficulties during a pandemic: Why do I work and why at Storyblok?

Although it is a hard time for all of us, I never asked myself why I am doing this, why I am working at Storyblok. Every day at Storyblok convinced me more and more that it was a good decision to work here. First of all, it is not just a job to earn money.

At Storyblok, I have the feeling that I get back as much as I give. The employees are incredibly nice to each other and they are very committed to Storyblok. I feel like I am part of a team where I am a full member. I regularly take part in the online team meetings and it makes me feel proud to be on this motivated, growing team.

After many years of experience in different types of companies, I now work, for the very first time, in an IT company where I have already learned so many new things. For example, I work with some cool new software that I hadn’t known about before, for example, Notion, Slack, easybill, etc. It feels great to use the limited time I have working at Storyblok to extend my knowledge.

Storyblok is very different from other companies - we never complain, we identify ourselves with the company and the product, and are convinced of what we are doing.

Working for a remote company has made it easier for me to balance my home life and my job. I work when my oldest is at daycare and the youngest is asleep. I deal with a lot fewer dependencies, my working times are very flexible and everyone on the team understands my situation. Lydia, my team lead, has been particularly understanding about the challenges of working while being a full-time mother. I have always been able to finish my tasks on time, but should this not be possible then I know that she would be supportive and we would find a solution together.

And to be honest, pandemic or not, in my current situation, it is difficult for me to travel or to do something spontaneously anyway. At the moment I don’t feel that I’m missing out on anything, and on the contrary, with Storyblok, I am even more connected with people from all over the world.

Time goes by, children get older, and the pandemic will eventually end. And when that finally happens, I can increase my hours and finally meet my colleagues from Storyblok in person.