“Everything is moving towards flexibility – it is estimated that by 2022, 5.1 million people will be working from co-working offices,” says Charlie Rosier, co-founder of Cuckooz Nest – a co-working space with in-built créche in London’s Farringdon…
Four months before launching our design-led serviced apartment business – Cuckooz, I found out I was pregnant. I told Fabienne (my business partner) whilst on a fundraising trip to Singapore. At the time it didn’t phase either of us.
Of course we’d heard about the cost of childcare and how much it changes your life, but honestly, I wasn’t worried and thankfully neither was Fab. We threw ourselves into it, worked all the hours we physically could and I pretty much didn’t stop until my due date.
BUT OH MY, HOW I WAS WRONG!
When I left to go on maternity, I fully intended to have at least three months’ off but after six weeks I went back to work with Orla in tow. It was only Fab and I – we didn’t have a huge team – but that wasn’t the only reason I returned so quickly. I missed work.
For so long I had been career focused and work was (and still is) such a huge part of who I am and what drives me. However it quickly became apparent that being a working parent in London is hard; it’s emotionally hard because of the judgment and lack of support (my mother wasn’t the only one to let me know I was doing the wrong thing) but it’s also physically and financially hard.
At six weeks I looked at my options. An au pair was obviously the cheapest option – but I wasn’t prepared to leave my tiny baby (born at just 2.2 kg) in the hands of an inexperienced person. Nurseries were an option, but sadly no space until later in the year and even then I had to commit to fixed days per week.
I visited a few childminders, some of whom made me feel awful, “Obviously you’re not going to leave her with us until she’s six months?” “No, no, no,” I vehemently denied. I also tried a nanny-share in a desperate attempt to reduce costs, but even great companies such as Koru Kids just didn’t have suitable families and/or nannies available at the time. The only option I felt available to me was a private nanny.
So that was the route we went down but it still only afforded me two full days at work and the rest of the week was either juggling emails/calls from home whilst the baby was sleeping, or dragging her into the office. It seemed insane to me, especially in London – one of the most developed and functioning cities in the world – that the dream of being a working parent was exactly that: a dream! So many more women are going back to work, and (intake of breath) even the primary breadwinners in some families so why is childcare still so expensive and inflexible?
It quickly became apparent to us that there had to be an alternative solution, I wasn’t the only one. Both Fab and I have friends who are freelancers or small business owners and starting families now. Research showed us that 1 in 7 freelancers in London are working mums. The market is substantial and was crying out for a more flexible childcare option.
The “gig economy” doesn’t work on the 9 – 5 schedule, and therefore doesn’t need or want a fixed childcare option. Everything is moving towards flexibility – it is estimated that by 2022, 5.1 million people will be working from co-working offices (an increase of +325% on today’s numbers). More people are project-based and therefore want an option that allows them to book childcare for three months, but then not again for another three months.
AND SO CUCKOOZ NEST WAS BORN…
Born from a personal need, but with the passion to make the dream of “having it all” a reality for everyone. For working parents, Cuckooz Nest quite simply means zero compromise. Our workspace has been created by RIBA award-winning interior designer Leo Wood and our first pay-as-you-go, fully-flexible, Ofsted registered nursery (positioned right next door) offers exceptional childcare.
We accept children from 0 to 24 months and our set-up allows mums to keep breastfeeding if necessary. It also means that parents are on-site should there be any issues or in case you just want a hug.
Since launch in April we now have over 200 members using our space flexibly – this means some (like me) are there everyday 9-6pm and others come in once in a blue moon. We have hosted a variety of events aimed at parents and entrepreneurs, from the likes of Make Motherhood Diverse, Female Founders breakfast with Fuel Ventures, Women in Tech events hosted by Kindred Capital; the list goes on.
We have so much stuff planned for the upcoming year that focuses on supporting working parents, helping parents network without the cringe-factor, supporting local business and independent businesses looking to grow.
We started this as a solution to a problem; we started this as a potentially profitable business. What we didn’t realise is that we were starting a business with heart; a business that spoke to working parents on a level that they’d never been spoken to before. Cuckooz Nest is a business that is all about fixing a problem, but it’s also about family.
Cuckooz Nest, 24 Ray Street, London, EC1R 3DJ; +44 (0) 203 950 2539, firstname.lastname@example.org