Article: Team messengers help mothers resume work

Culture

Team messengers help mothers resume work

Equipping new mothers to stay connected to their teams during the transition from the maternity leave to work positively impacts retention of valuable talent, and also contributes to making the organization a more equal work place.
Team messengers help mothers resume work

Pooja is a star performer at her company and a mother of two. She is currently on maternity leave, caring for her second child who is two months old. When Pooja had her first child three years ago, she took a 12 week paid maternity leave, which she was entitled to according to the law at that time. While 12 weeks of leave was certainly useful, she, not unlike many working mothers, thought it was a tad too early to get back to work. Now, with the recent amendment to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, she is entitled to a much needed 26 week paid leave. Pooja is relieved, of course, but there’s a new worry gnawing at the back of her mind when she thinks about work.

With extended leave, come new concerns

The worry is two-fold. What starts off as curiosity about what’s happening back at work, turns into borderline anxiety of ‘missing out’. The other worry is about transitioning back to work and hit the ground running.  Even if organizations make earnest attempts to support employees heading back to work after maternity leave, the very nature of today’s fast-paced business makes getting back to work challenging after a long break.

Team messengers

As in many areas of business, technology brings an answer. Enter Team Messengers. At first look, team messengers may seem like instant messengers (IM) that everyone is familiar with. Team messengers are no doubt inspired by IM but have incorporated features that make them the go-to app for all communication and collaboration needs amongst teams.  As many early adopters of team messengers have found out, it can largely replace even email!

At first look, team messengers may seem like instant messengers (IM) that everyone is familiar with. Team messengers are no doubt inspired by IM, but have incorporated features that make them the go-to app for all communication and collaboration needs amongst teams.  As many early adopters of team messengers have found out, it can largely replace even email.

Here’s a look at some scenarios where a team messenger can be a great enabler in helping employees to get back to work after a long break.

Choose to keep up with work before rejoining

Often, employees who are on a long break, such as maternity leave, wish to keep in touch with what’s going on at work even while on leave. Call it 'just missing work', or a reluctance to ‘switch off’, or eagerness to get back to work, many employees who are on a break try to keep up with office updates on their own accord. This is often done by reaching out to friends at work using phone or IM to communicate.

These means are at best semi-formal, and here’s where a team messenger can bring in transparency in communication as well as make it easy for the employee who is away from the office to stay tuned. Let’s go back to the example of Pooja, our working mom. Say, it is now week 24 of her leave, and she is trying to familiarize herself with the progress that’s been made in her absence. Her organization uses team messengers for communication and collaboration. Till now, she had muted conversations on her team messenger app, but now selectively unmutes some channels. She can even create a new channel where she can participate actively for the more critical accounts she manages (say for a project that will be executed when she is back to work and could use her inputs at critical junctures now).

Caring for her newborn takes most of her time, meaning any mode of communication she uses must be easy and quick. Team messengers meet this criterion by design. Not only can one chat on a group or a person, but all documents exchanged in a conversation are easily available alongside the chat. Calendar and project management applications are either inbuilt or available as apps that integrate with the team messenger. A team leader who is just about to get back to work can easily track current status, without needing to open up a separate productivity app. All of this functionality is available on a smartphone too.

Enable work-from-home and flexi-working

Team messengers come to the fore when team members are geographically dispersed. The most common reason for women to leave the workforce or opt for sabbatical soon after having a child is not the work itself, but the time constraints in a conventional 9 to 5 setup. Organizations can avoid the loss of such skilled employees by enabling them to either work from home or with flexible timings while ensuring there is sufficient transparency and visibility.

How team messenger apps revolutionized the way employees work

Create Multiple Teams Create and access multiple teams, which could be project-based, interest-based or even organisation-wide.
Create Public or Private Channels Create public teams for communities or private channels, which can be joined by invite only, for more focused and closed conversations.
Direct and group Messages Start a one-to-one or a group discussion around your projects, or common interests.
Share files Share files of all types and search for any information, anytime.
Collaborate with teams Collaborate through video conferencing, and share screens with teams, on the go.
Apps Integrate popular external works apps like Trello, Google Drive, Hangouts, and Twitter.

Conclusion

One of the greatest benefits of team messengers – its ability to enable a truly location-agnostic work environment – is just the solution for new mothers in the workforce. When you have to play a balancing act between the demands of the child and that of the workplace, the benefits of being to stay connected to your team, have all work related documents available anywhere, and across any device, all within a single app, cannot be overstated.

Topics: Culture, Diversity, Talent Management, Technology

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