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Andy Daniels from Next talks about how having access to an on-site nursery has given him a greater work life balance.
Plenty of dads will receive a card made at nursery and perhaps a homemade cookie this weekend.
For Andy Daniels, his son will be waiting with them when he leaves work this afternoon.
That’s one of many benefits of having an on-site nursery at Andy’s workplace.
He’s a development project manager for Next at their Leicester HQ. The on-site nursery is a boon on a number of fronts. “It’s rated outstanding by Ofsted. And the fact the fees are also subsidised helps. But it’s mainly the peace of mind. Knowing that my kids are just at the other end of the car park if they need me. It allows you to concentrate on your work knowing they are being looked after close by.”
Andy’s wife Joanna worked as a buyer at Next before he joined. But when Andy was hired by Next it made sense for daughter Erin to go into the onsite nursery. So Andy and Erin started on the same day. “Joanna dropped Erin off at the nursery, then she had to drop me off!” laughed Andy.
Having childcare so close takes out many of the stresses familiar to working dads. No sweating on late trains or traffic jams to avoid late fees. And no disturbing calls or fraught trips to collect a sick child.
“One day my daughter cut her head,” explains Andy. “The nursery sent through pictures and it looked bad because the blood had matted her hair. If I’d faced a long journey to a nursery to collect her it would have been horrible. But I was able to go over to the nursery, make sure she was OK and be back at my desk in 20 minutes.”
That’s good for the kids in the nursery too, who can quickly receive comfort from dad. And it’s why managers are content for dads like Andy to drop everything if they need to nip to the nursery. They know it’s likely parents will return to work once they’ve checked the situation and reassured the child.
When son Sebastian, now aged two, came along he went into the nursery too. Going to work became like a family outing for the Daniels! They were even able to have the occasional family lunch together on a week day.
But that all ended when coronavirus hit last spring. However, the parent friendly attitude carried through at Next.
Said Andy: “My manager was clear that he trusted us to get the work done.
“My wife and I staggered our days so one of us would start at 7am and do five hours straight while the other looked after the children, then we’d flip. And we’d pick up a few hours in the evenings.
“There were certain meetings we could and couldn’t make. But it was really helpful having that support from our managers.
“Having those hours to focus on your job meant you could really concentrate. Then you could give your whole focus to the children for the other part of the day.”
Now Andy and his wife do alternate days in the office. One stays at home to do school pick up and drop off with five-year-old Erin while the other takes Sebastian with them to work so he can get back to nursery.
It must be a treat to car pool with your son? “I get sick of nursery rhymes!” laughs Andy. “More seriously it is really nice to have that dedicated one-on-one time with him, to have a sing song in the car, and as he gets older to be able to chat.”
Or indeed to step out of the office door to find Sebastian waiting for him at nursery with a Father’s Day treat.
“There’s not a lot of companies that have this kind of benefit,” added Andy. “And it is a big benefit.
“I recently did a LinkedIn session aimed at recruiting more managers of a similar age to me to Next. Of all the good things about working here that I talked up, the nursery was the big stand out benefit that I found myself pushing.”