The secret to finding a work-life balance is in mindful juggling, and a little school holiday help from KidsCo.
Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs in the world, but it's also one of the most rewarding. Sustaining a career through parenthood can be a juggle (and for some, a struggle), but Adrian Rokman and Laynton Allan are passionate about creating balance for working parents.
They're the Co-Founders of KidsCo., and they're all too familiar with the daunting idea of taking up to twelve weeks off a year to stay home with the kids during school holidays. Juggling a progressive career and maintaining a positive family life can be tricky, but Adrian and Laynton's workplace school holiday program empowers parents with the support they need to juggle work and holidays simultaneously - without dropping the ball.
In their first year calling One Roof home, they expanded from individual desks to a three-person office, and now as a bustling six-person team, the demand for KidsCo.'s travelling school holiday workplace program continues to grow...
What was life like before KidsCo.?
Adrian: Before KidsCo., I was in childcare centres with a twist, and everything we did was sport-related; basketball, soccer and tennis rather than sandpits and story time. I was aware of the effort parents had to make to get the kids to childcare in the morning, and it was an even bigger struggle to organise pick-ups if their jobs didn't allow them to leave early.
Laynton: Life before KidsCo. was very different for me. By day, I worked in sales and marketing for a large corporate company, but by night, I was working on my side hustle - a school holiday program business providing footy clinics to kids with AFL stars. Previous to my corporate foray, I was fortunate enough to experience life as a Secondary School Teacher and a Division 1 Nurse, and those experiences stoked the fire to make an impact.
What was the first year of business like?
Adrian: Year one was super hard, but super fun! It was hard because what we were creating was an entirely new model in the industry, and while companies loved it, no one wanted to be the first to give it a go.
Many a day were spent cold calling, cold knocking and not getting anywhere. It was fun because it was just the two of us doing everything ourselves from marketing to sales, admin to finance while trying anything to make shit happen! It's only down the track that you look back on these times and wish you would have enjoyed it rather than stressed about it.
Who does what at KidsCo? What's a week look like for you both?
Adrian: I'm the big kid, with the big visions creating experiences for our students that I wish I could have had back in my day. A lot of my day is spent generating new business and new ideas to make life a little bit easier for working parents.
Laynton: I'm the one that brings the big ideas to life and makes shit happen. My role is firmly in people, culture and leadership, to ensure that we are all on the same page and pulling the rope in the same direction.
Do either of you have degrees in your field or are you winging it?
Adrian: I've been in the childcare industry for almost a decade.
Laynton: I have a degree in Education and a Bachelor of Health Science. My business knowledge mostly came from my experiences in the corporate world. To be honest, I think we are all winging it on some level though. That's what makes it so exciting; we have an opportunity to create something with a positive impact and share it with the world. The challenge is how to do it with the biggest bang and the most efficient use of time and resources.
Is there such a thing as a 'work-life balance'? Do you have it?
Adrian: Our entire business is built on the concept of creating balance with the scales of work and life, so it's ingrained in our culture and DNA! Our entire team have flexible work hours and can work from home or the moon if they really want to. When you love what you do it doesn't really feel like work though.
Laynton: Absolutely! Having a work-life balance is integral to anyone's quality of work. We fully subscribe to the theory that 'you can't do a good job if your job is all you do.' Occasionally we have blurred the lines between the two, but we all call each other out and get back on track pretty quickly.
Who has kids and who doesn't? How does that dynamic work when it comes to understanding what other parents want?
Adrian: I'd say I have thousands of kids (during the holidays). I just get to give them back at the end of the day!
Laynton: Our experiences through our previous business dealings have really helped us understand the wants and needs of the modern-day parent.
Bringing kids into the workplace might seem like a daunting concept for some employers. How do you simplify it?
Adrian: We only employ qualified school teachers, so we can ensure premium quality and 'classroom management'. The program is run on-site in the workplace, but in a separate space to avoid interrupting the workplace and office productivity. Think board room, auditorium, training centre, meeting rooms with collapsible walls...
Are most workplaces open to the idea of implementing the KidsCo program?
Laynton: Absolutely! They're thirsty for it. There are three hurdles they need to jump before a program takes flight, though. The first is assessing if they have the space available or not. Secondly, we need numbers; do they have enough parents who together have 18 kids aged 5-12 years old? Lastly, workplaces need the budget for it. Companies can run a one-week program for as little as a $4000 investment, and when you consider the cost of losing staff during holidays, it's worth it.
How are staff productivity levels impacted by the work you do at KidsCo?
Laynton: 77% of employees report feeling more engaged and productive at work compared to previous holiday periods without the KidsCo program. Incidences of sick leave also reduce dramatically.
What did you learn by pitching on Shark Tank?
Laynton: This was a fantastic experience and a career highlight to date. We learnt the 'power of starting on a positive note'. What they didn't show on camera was us breaking the producer's rules and having an ultimately warm interaction with the sharks before we pitched. This put us in a positive light before we kicked off. The Shark Tank experience really put us on the map, and I would strongly recommend it to anyone who is thinking about applying.
You've also been on The Project, Nine News and Sunrise. How'd you wing that?
Laynton: This was an ethereal 2-day experience. We had a PR agent shoot out a press release over the weekend leading into the school holidays and the timing couldn't have been better. Channel 7, Channel 9 and Channel 10 were all fighting for the exclusivity of our story and thanks to the epic diplomacy skills of our PR agent, we managed to snag all three.
Has the experience of building a business played out as you expected it would, or has the reality been different?
Laynton: It's difficult to answer this as we came together with no real expectations, just a great gut feeling that we were doing a good thing and that people would want it. What we have learnt from the early days through till now is that waiting for perfect is never as good as making progress and the secret to getting ahead is having a crack and taking the shot. We have learnt smarter and faster by doing this.
How have you handled growth and hiring? What's worked and what hasn't?
Laynton: We are continually reshaping and sharpening this up. We hire on three main criteria; character, chemistry and competence, in order of importance too. The hiring process is a lot of fun, and applicants get a taste of what we're about from the first interaction. We love doing things in an unconventional way; our latest hire Alyce did a cartwheel and asked a stranger for $2 in her interview. It obviously left quite the impression.
Have you made any mistakes or choices that you've learnt from?
Adrian: Millions! We make mistakes and learn from them every day!
Why is helping, supporting and empowering working parents so important to you?
Adrian: Coming from a single parent family, school holidays were always the worst part of the year. Mum had to work, and I had to tag along. Back in those days, we didn't have iPads, so it wasn't a matter of throwing your child under the desk. I had to create my own activities and come up with things to do.
Laynton: Family time is what makes the heart strong, for both the parent and the child. Enabling this, without forgoing the parents' career demands, is the change I want to see in the world.
Define parenting in three words?
Adrian: The struggle is real! But in three words... Best, worst and rewarding.
Laynton: Fulfillment x infinity.
Define running a business in three words?
Adrian: Rollercoaster, high and low
Laynton: A beautiful rollercoaster.
If Adrian and Laynton's KidsCo. workplace school holiday program sounds like something your workplace (and you) need, head to kidsco.net.au for more details.
This blog was written by the incredible and talented Claire Goldsworthy, Founder of The Fashion Advocate.
Stay up to date with One Roof's events, workshops, business opportunities and great content via our newsletter. If you've been searching for a supportive co-working space, you can also trial working from One Roof and meet our amazing community for one week, at absolutely no cost.
Sign up to our one-week free trial here. Warning: you may be hooked for life!