I recently returned to my position as Director of Strategy, Analytics and Operations at Superhuman after three months of paternity leave.
I would be lying if I said that work never crossed my mind in those three months. I occasionally thought, especially after more than a few diaper changes, of checking out some of the projects I had left behind. But I didn’t. I avoided temptation and from the time I went on maternity leave I was able to be fully present to spend a lot of uninterrupted time with my family.
Mastering the complexity of parental leave
Parental leave policies in the US can get complex – there are corporate policies alongside federal and state laws. And even if these things match Many expectant parents still worry about the consequences of parental leave. As a new dad, that certainly worried me—and I’m not alone. A recently learn found that only half feel supported by their employer in taking paternity leave. Worse, nearly a third believe a furlough could harm their careers.
While Superhuman’s parental leave policy is generous by US standards and ensured I would get 12 weeks off on full pay, I admit I was nervous about what the absence would mean for my team and the company. I’m part of the Superhuman leadership team and having recently assumed a new role, I’ve had one List of key projects to tackle and open to fill positions. However, nThe company not only fully respected my free time, but wWhen I got back to work, only a few things needed to be done right away. There wasn’t a mountain of issues to work my way out of for weeks, which made the transition back much easier while still caring for a newborn.
So how did I do it? By working closely with our people team, my direct reports and the rest of the leadership team at Superhuman. I started laying the foundation stone months before I actually closed my laptop for the last time. This careful planning process allowed me to completely switch off and appreciate my time off.
These are the five steps I took.
Start communicating early
When my partner and I were ready to share the news, I told our Head of People and we quickly came up with a plan for my vacation. We first informed the CEO and the rest of the leadership team and made appointments for my vacation. The next step was to work with my direct reports to determine the best possible team structure while I was offline with my family.
I took our due date and assumed I’d be offline three weeks early, just to be safe. Using this date, I created a workback plan that captured each project I wanted to do before my vacation began. I estimated the number of weeks needed for each project and kept a prioritized list of what could be completed by when. That’s how I regularly flagged any project that didn’t look like it would be completed by my end date. Ultimately, I was more productive than ever during this time thanks to the sense of urgency and relentless prioritization.
Consider using contractors to bridge the gap
One of the things that kept me busy in the months and weeks leading up to my absence was making sure our analytics team had the support and resources they needed to complete important projects and respond to requests while I was away. If I hadn’t been about to take a leave of absence, I would have taken the slow and steady route of recruitment. Ultimately, however, two months before my departure, I decided to bring in two experienced consultants to quickly expand our range. Looking back, I can see that being open to contract help was one of the best decisions; It prevented a situation where my vacation had a negative impact on the entire team and both individuals are still with the company today.
Make it easy for yourself to resist temptation
As soon as I closed my laptop on my last day of work, I deleted Slack and signed out of work email on both my laptop and mobile to resist any temptation to check in after work. I asked anyone at Superhuman who needed to contact me with an urgent matter to do so again via text message or my personal email account to resist the temptation to read my work email.
Consider a “re-entry plan”
Our Head of People organized a ‘reintegration plan’ for me upon my return, which looked very similar to the plans we use for people who have just joined the company. It included 1:1 meetings with important hires made while I was away, calls for recommended priorities upon my return, and suggestions of what I should accomplish in the first few days, weeks, and months. We also had daily 30 minute check-ins for the first two weeks to help me fully recover.
Any new parent can attest that the first few months of your child’s life are magical and I will always be grateful for that. I realize how lucky I am considering how difficult the past few years have been for any working parent. I hope this communication will provide those who have the opportunity to take parental leave with some helpful tips on how to make the most of that time.
Gaurav Vohra is Head of Strategy, Analytics, and Business Operations at superhuman.
https://www.fastcompany.com/90734852/everything-you-need-to-know-to-take-a-solid-paternity-leave?partner=feedburner&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feedburner+fastcompany&utm_content=feedburner The best way to take paternity leave