Shazia Mustafa, Cofounder of Third Door, a family-friendly coworking space with an onsite flexible Ofsted registered Nursery, says:
A few months after I had my first child back in 2007, I knew one thing for certain; I wanted to return to work and further my career. However, like most new mums, I was reluctant to be far from my baby and wanted somewhere I could work in peace whilst my little one was cared for nearby. My husband was also studying for a self-funded MBA at the time and therefore his working hours weren’t what you might call ‘traditional’ hours either. Yet as hard as we looked, nowhere seemed to offer us a workable solution to our childcare conundrum. So, we decided to take matters into our own hands. As such, a year later, me and my husband, Yusuf, decided to set up Third Door, the UK’s first coworking space with an onsite flexible nursery.
As Third Door has grown over the past 11 years, I have watched with interest as the concept has become more widely understood. And of course, I have been very interested to see how others have tried to replicate the concept (which I have welcomed). Demand for flexible childcare has grown as careers become less tied to traditional nine to five office hours, and remote or flexible working becomes more widespread. In addition, the rise of freelancing and self-employment has also increased, with 1 in 7 of all self-employed people being working mums* (594,000). Parents love the fact that at Third Door you can simply subscribe to a bundle of childcare hours per month and use them as they need, depending on their work schedule or holiday plans. For example, parents can sign up for as little as 30 hours a month, or in contrast can sign up full time which especially works for employed parents. And most importantly all parents can flex up or down depending on their needs, swap days or even buy adhoc days if on a fixed day package. It’s been amazing to see our vision really take off and parents even travelling across London for our offering.
Most of all Third Door has been about removing the parenthood penalty and creating a better work/ life balance for mums and dads. Our vision has always been to create a community of likeminded individuals and join them all together as a force for good. And this is exactly what I want to continue to do with Third Door. I’m committed to creating a movement to bring about a change in the culture of working families, where it is normal to work near your children and also focus on your own career. As such, I want to encourage many more to join our movement of creating places where family & work can grow together and hopefully in the process remove the parenthood penalty altogether.
How do you balance your business around your family and children?
Now it is much easier than it was when we set up Third Door. Nine years on, I have a great team of people that run Third Door who follow all the systems and processes we have put in place. My husband tends to do the morning run and I will pick up and spend the afternoon taking them to their after-school activities. My children’s school has recently introduced a flexible/ad-hoc after-school service which means that I can book the children in last minute if I need to. Having set up a business with the intention of helping parents with their work/ life harmony, I always make sure I too spend enough time with my children during the week. Similarly, I will happily rearrange my working week if I feel that it is impacting my work/ life balance.
Since setting up your business what’s been your biggest success to date?
Honestly, it all comes down to the people I work with. I feel that having a great team in place who can run the business as per the values and ethos we have put in place is key. Likewise, having regular and kind customers who also believe in what we have created and value our service is what makes everything worthwhile.
What inspires me
I am inspired by change. I am driven to create a change in society where having a career and family don’t have to be at odds against each other. I want to encourage many more to join our movement of creating places where family & work can grow together and hopefully in the process remove the parenthood penalty altogether.
*(IPSE demographics 2017)