Finding, securing and keeping childcare is a challenge all working parents understand. Many of us have tapped away at our laptops distracted by snack-hungry kids or multi-tasked deadlines with a baby on our lap. With the rise of parents working from home during the pandemic, the challenge got easier in some ways, but harder in others.
Working from home means your children are supervised, but it also means that your focus is divided and productivity is down, until naptime at least. Even as childcare funding becomes available, childcare places remain limited. Flexible childcare is as common as unicorns which leaves many parents scrambling on an ongoing basis.
Madeleine Shaw, Nestworks founder and author of The Greater Good: Social Entrepreneurship for Everyday People Who Want to Change the World, saw firsthand what it can look like when you bring a community of like minded parents and professionals together and create a space that accommodates both children’s and their parent’s needs. In the early to mid 2000s, Madeleine and her Lunapads (now, Aisle) co-founder Suzanne brought their infant kids to work with them at their office. Together they tag teamed parenting while building a successful impact business. In 2017, long after her daughter started school, Madeleine founded Nestworks to offer this opportunity to other parents. Six years and one pandemic later, that vision has come to life. We chatted with Madeleine to learn more about what Nestworks offers and how it’s supporting working parents in Vancouver.
What is Nestworks?
Nestworks is a family-friendly co-working space that features on-site childminding in a beautiful, multi-purpose venue. It’s a concept that welcomes and understands the demands of working parents and looks to fill some of the gaps.
While parents and other co-working adults enjoy an open office hot-desk environment, children are engaged in fun, child-focused activities supervised by trained caregivers. Kid-friendly amenities include a mini gym and unique indoor sensory playhouse. Nestworks welcomes kids ages 12 months to 5 years old, Monday to Friday in a beautiful, light-filled space in the heart of Mount Pleasant.
When did the concept begin for you?
Nestworks was inspired by my and my business partner’s experience of having our three children with us in our office in the mid-2000s. Having kids at work showed us that ‘work’ and ‘life’ don’t have to be as separate as our culture often forces them to be. Childcare is a huge pain point for Vancouver families, and being able to ‘feed two birds with one seed’ in this way is efficient, eco-friendly and supportive of mental health and family attachment. The goal is to make life for independently working families with small children easier and way more fun.
What role does Nestworks play in the childcare shortage we’re seeing in BC?
The Nestworks model doesn’t solve BC’s child care shortage, and to be clear, Nestworks is not offering licensed daycare, but rather childminding that requires that parents remain on-site.
What it does is offer an efficient option to families juggling work and parenting by offering both services – co-working and childminding – under one roof. Having my daughter at work with me supported our attachment, and also allowed me to continue to build my business and career ambitions. This experience showed me that I wanted to live in a world where being ‘professional’ was not mutually exclusive with prioritising my family identity and needs.
What are some benefits of Nestworks besides the opportunity for parents to work?
For children, having a secure sense of being able to easily find their parent can bring peace of mind and alleviates the dreaded “Don’t leave!” dropoff moment. Parents are able to show their children where they will be, assure them that they can easily find them at any time, and say “I’ll meet you for a snack right here.” What we’re seeing with our repeat customer families is that as the child acclimatises to being at Nestworks, they look for less and less attention from the parent, choosing rather to play with other children and the childminders in a variety of beautiful, kid-friendly spaces. It’s also wonderful so see parents chatting and networking with other adults during their work day.
If you’d like to hear from parents who are using Nestworks, there are some wonderful insights in this recent CBC Radio On The Coast interview!
Tell us about your partnership with This World’s Ours Centre.
Nestworks is hosted at This World’s Ours Centre (TWO). TWO is an inclusive centre providing a safe, social space and a variety of programs for neurodiverse children and families. TWO first opened in May 2022 in the historic Belvedere building on Main Street in Vancouver creating a beautiful, light-filled restored heritage space. We are thrilled to be able to use this incredible, kid-friendly space. TWO offers after school, evening and weekend programming so it’s been a perfect partnership for Nestworks to fill their space during the weekdays. This World’s Ours Centre is located at 191 E 10th Ave. It’s a great neighbourhood with lots of coffee shops and lunch options!
What’s next for Nestworks?
As our pop-up trial during the month of April was a success, Nestworks will remain open until the end of June (at which point TWO’s summer programs run full-time). Throughout May and Jun we’re offering co-working and optional childminding from 9am to 12 noon Monday to Friday exclusive of holidays. Advance booking is preferred, as spaces are limited. We’re hoping to see continued success and continue the offering into the fall.
Coworking and chilcare are now available Nestworks for May and June. Book your spot!