Bringing child and career under one roof remotely

Luca is in his mid-forties and a passionate father. So passionate, in fact, that after separating from his wife a few years ago, he decided to raise his children Enea (8) and Fiona (10) alone. In doing so, he made a decision that is still the great exception in Switzerland. Accordingly, there is little help for the male sex to reconcile child and career. Luca has nevertheless made it. Even without losing his career. His family, the openness of his company and a little bit of modern technology helped him.

No state support for fathers
Luca’s separation from his wife Mia took place when the children were still very young. This is not an easy situation for a man who decides to raise children alone. The law hardly provides any support for men who want to take care of their children.

While in neighbouring Germany there is also parental leave for fathers and the parent who stays at home receives parental allowance that replaces a large part of the income, Luca had to reconcile work and career immediately and without any grace period.

Many have to choose between child and career
“A similar regulation in Switzerland would be a quantum leap for both sexes,” says Luca, who has repeatedly observed among his friends how difficult it is for women, too, to realise their careers. According to a survey by the Federal Coordination Commission for Family Affairs EKFF, only about 63 per cent of Swiss women with a partner and a child under seven hold a professional position. Due to a lack of childcare options, they usually return to work only after years, only part-time, and at the cost of massive salary losses and missed career opportunities.

At the time, Luca made the effort to continue working full time. The usual difference in men’s and women’s salaries, which was up to 15 per cent in 2012, the year of separation, left him no other choice. His wife had to pay alimony, but it was not enough to cover his living expenses with two children. Luca was lucky. His employer valued him very much, did not want to lose him and accommodated him immensely.

He offered him the opportunity to work flexibly in a home office. Eight years ago, that was anything but a matter of course. So Luca, who couldn’t get one of the coveted kindergarten places, could have grandma and grandpa look after his offspring in the mornings. On two afternoons, the children were with mum and Luca in the office. And on the three remaining days, the single parent organised the afternoon or early evening hours with the kids at home and logged into the company system again in the evening when everyone was asleep. If there was no other way, sometimes at the weekend.

Coordinating child and career requires iron consistency
In the meantime, Enea and Fiona are schoolchildren, but the division of responsibilities has not changed significantly. In recent years, Luca has succeeded with iron consistency in doing what only a few single parents manage to do: Bringing family and career under one roof.

Not even the 45-year-old’s career has had to suffer. Thanks to online training, which he was able to integrate flexibly into his working hours, he managed to complete the recognised SVF Certificate in Leadership and acquire an immense amount of specialist knowledge. The leadership training comprises six modules and gives participants the tools to optimise their communication, but also to lead their teams in an authentic, visionary, understanding and efficient way. Luca’s employer allowed him to complete the training during working hours. In doing so, the single father laid the foundation for his current position as a team leader.

Online training opens up considerable professional opportunities
Luca logged on flexibly and integrated the ambitious further training into his everyday life. At first, he was afraid that he would have to learn on his own. Far from it. The learning platform Luca’s employer had chosen not only connected him with trainers and other learners.

A wide variety of media were also available as teaching aids, so that learning was really fun because it was more than varied. Luca could choose between instructional videos, podcasts, PowerPoint presentations, virtual learning classes, chats with experts and so much more.

Luca doesn’t want to sugarcoat anything, though. “It was a rocky road up to here. And I couldn’t have done it without the support of my parents and the openness of my company to digital working and learning,” he says. “Hopefully my children won’t have to do such a balancing act again. Hopefully, when you grow up, parental leave will be standard and employers’ openness to digital opportunities will certainly be. I’m sure my children will have an easier time of it.”

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