Being a Working Dad

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If the title of this blog post caught your attention, it’s probably because you don’t expect these words to be used in such conjunction. One uses the “working someone” when talking about the challenges of spending time with your kids, yet having a fulfilling work life, and while technically every father in employment is a working dad, the larger compromise is usually on the side of the women (meaning longer parental leave, higher share of part-time work and greater amount of absence when the kids are sick).

When my wife (who happens to work at Continental, too) was expecting, we made a plan that we wanted to split up the parenting chores evenly so that one of us doesn’t become the “working someone” but we’d still have a chance to pursue a career. The plan was that both of us would take 7 months of parental leave, and both would be working in 75% part-time upon return. I wasn’t sure how my boss would react once I’d announce our decision, after all a two-months leave is quite common for men by now (and I had mentioned earlier that we wanted kids), but she might not have plans for an absence beyond that.

Fortunately, things went quite smoothly. While the new situation required a lot of re-planning, it felt like she was still supportive, as was her boss. As I would be returning into my old job, the question was how to bridge the missing capacity in the meantime, so we discussed how this could be done. It ended up being a mixture of redistribution and postponing of tasks.

Now that I’m back at work, my current part-time model is that I’m having one day off per week to get things at home done, and on one or two days I leave the office after lunchtime to pick up the kid from the daycare. If I didn’t manage to finish things at work, I can do these in the evening. I have been doing this for a couple of months now, and for me this has been working out quite nicely:

  • I’ve learned to make better use of my time at work
  • Since I work with people across multiple time zones, presence during local office hours becomes less of a requirement
  • In case I don’t have too many on-site meetings, I can also work from home and don’t need to spend time commuting
  • Mobile work is really helping, rather than having to turn on my laptop I can use my work phone to get stuff done

Most importantly, my part-time work hasn’t caused myself to be removed from interesting assignments or programs. Granted, there is the occasional request to return back to 100%, but I like to think this means the company still considers me to be a valuable employee.

Tilman Budde

My Name is Tilman Budde, and I'm a team lead for Business Intelligence Applications in the area of Purchasing within Corporate Functions IT. I joined Conti in 2011 after having worked as an SAP Consultant.

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