Co-working spaces can offer a great solution for working mums. Picture: iStock
Co-working spaces can offer a great solution for working mums. Picture: iStock

‘I was made redundant while I was pregnant’

GETTING an email from HR at 5pm for a meeting first thing next morning was certainly suspicious.

Seeing 10 other people from my team stand up and look around with the same suspicious looks on their faces solidified my thinking: we were about to be made redundant.

While the redundancy package payout helped smooth the waters initially, it was quickly followed by an overwhelming sense of panic as it sank in that I had nothing lined up.

I was four months pregnant (which they didn't know), and it was highly unlikely I'd get another job.

I wasn't completely surprised or devastated by the redundancy. It was messy and it wasn't exactly the highlight of my career, but I knew I was good at what I did and that I had worked hard to get to where I was. I knew I'd get another full time job eventually, but considering the baby situation, I figured it wouldn't be for another couple of years.

I spent a lot of time trying to justify the whys and what-ifs, but ultimately came to the realisation that things change; the decision wasn't personal; and that shit happens (to lots of us). I just had to ride the wave and get on with it.

Emma, Dee and Oonagh were all made redundant, but went on to create Frankly Co. Picture: supplied
Emma, Dee and Oonagh were all made redundant, but went on to create Frankly Co. Picture: supplied

This doesn't mean that it was easy. On the one hand, it was the hardest couple of months professionally: our household income halved literally overnight, I had nowhere to be and no job title (to be honest, my ego probably needed a check-in as your title shouldn't mean that much to you, should it?).

On the other hand, it was the most freeing thing that ever happened to me. Forced as it was, I was looking at all these new ways of working I'd never considered before. And I had a baby to look forward to as well.

Two of my colleagues who were also made redundant and I grew closer in our unstructured working life. And so following the redundancies - and before my son Max was born - we worked together as a creative team from my second bedroom.

It was fun, but still really challenging. We had each other, which was an enormous support as they were going through the same feelings.

Eventually, they both went on to get more structured jobs while we continued to work on a creative side project, interviewing women for our magazine and learning from others' experiences too.

Unconventional working spaces can lead to great things. Picture: supplied
Unconventional working spaces can lead to great things. Picture: supplied

It was around this time that we started to crave some sort of base to work from and retreat to, somewhere that was created for us and our various ways of working. A place where we could learn how to do our taxes; how to shop sustainably on the same day (if we wanted to); where we could fit in a workout, and have the option to bring our kids if we wanted to too.

We started to question why this space didn't already exist in Australia, when globally, we've seen similar models thrive. This was when FRANKLY CO started to take shape, an up-and-coming flexible space to work from and retreat to.

I learnt a lot over the last year. Mostly that we need more choices around how we make money, and that we need the option to belong to something that is bigger than ourselves and has the potential to grow.

Looking back, I now know that if I hadn't been made redundant, I wouldn't have made the leaps I did. It was a difficult time, but it also gave me the time to focus on myself, rather than another job.

Without the redundancy, I believe we wouldn't have had the capacity and brainpower to really focus on the bigger picture and see that we could make a big impact on a lot of people's lives.

That said, I also learnt that a job is only a job, and that what really matters - having a healthy baby, a supportive family, great friends and work that enables that to flourish - is what we should all be striving for.

Dee Behan is co-founder of Frankly Co.


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