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Work-life balance of a new father

Anish is a senior graphic designer at Initiate. He also teaches at Algonquin and recently welcomed his first child, truly doing it all.

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    Anish Parmar

Why juggling everything works, for me

I’ve always enjoyed keeping myself busy. I’ve worked as a full-time designer and part-time freelancer for the past 18 years while simultaneously teaching for the last 12 years; some semesters, teaching as many as 4 nights a week. Staying busy helps me stay focused and be more creative—I’m always in the design mindset. While researching one thing, I often uncover something useful for a different project, or a concept that may not work for one project, often works well for another. Teaching allows me to view the perspective of younger designers and stay on top of trends. I see the direction our industry is going in and the issues younger designers face that we can help promote or fix at Initiate when we’re hiring, making it a priority.

What about work-life balance?

As far as work-life balance, I’ve worked a crazy amount of hours ever since my first job where I would spend months at a time working about 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. Something I would never like to repeat. Since then I’ve tried to make an actual balance my priority. That doesn’t mean it’s 50/50—it just means the work I’m doing is stuff I’m actually interested in, it doesn’t take away from the rest of my life. On the family side, family has always been something important to me. Because of our new child I want to start things off on the right path and choose my family as a priority.

Initiate’s culture: open and flexible

Initiate has been fantastic, really fantastic—any time I need to be at an appointment, I can work around my schedule and not worry about missing time. I fill up the missing hours when I can to make sure I’m contributing and people aren’t picking up my slack.

Initiate has been open and understanding with anything that might come up. We’ve agreed that I can work from home for the rest of the month and into January as my partner and I learn to manage things at home and establish a routine. Jennifer and Michael made it clear that my family comes first. This makes me able to relax and not stress about it, especially at such a special time welcoming our first newborn. It makes me feel valued at the company, that I’m someone who’s not just an employee but someone they want to see grow at the company. 

When it comes to parental leave, we’ve had open discussions and my goal is to take it in the summer. The culture of openness makes me feel comfortable. I know I don’t need to scoot around things and I can bring it up and they will be supportive or if it won’t work out, we can still talk about it and I know there will be at least a conversation around it.

Work from home? Yes, please

I live very close to the office and it’s still not mandated for me to go in. I love being in the office and being surrounded by such a talented team. It is my preferred way to work. But knowing I can work from home is one less thing to worry about, and I don’t need to justify myself when I don’t go into the office. I know I can go in and have a meeting if I need to. This is key for me to be able to focus on my family at this time.

Extracurriculars welcome

I teach a 3rd year graphic design class in computer graphics. I’ve been teaching that class for 8 years. When I was interviewing for the position at Initiate, the fact I was teaching at Algonquin was seen as an asset, they were encouraging that. Now that Michael will be teaching there in January, being able to bounce ideas off of each other is awesome. It’s good to have another person at the company who understands the work load. 

As for my side hustle, I’m open about it and there’s never any overlap with Initiate. It’s actually an asset too because it’s constantly making me think of new types of design. Plus, in my network outside of work, I’ve brought projects to Initiate since we can do a bigger job in the studio and bid for it. It all works together! 

For now, I’m taking some extra time to spend time with my family, celebrate the holidays and look towards the future.