Workshop Outcomes: Wellington

Our first public workshop in Wellington generated a lively conversation around the mid-career break: how to decide to take one, how to best manage employees while they’re on one and how to develop supportive policies to successfully transition them back to work. 

Many thanks to everyone who attended our sold-out, waitlisted event in Wellington on 6 September. Special thanks to our panellists who helped drive the insightful, thought-provoking conversation: Patrycja Bonkowska, Branch Manager at Beca, Nicole Beaumont, Divisional Consultant, Talent and Culture at ANZ, Katherine Skipper, Principal at Warren and Mahoney and Stephen McDougall, Director at Studio Pacific Architecture.

If you weren’t able to make it to the event, you can watch the panel discussion in its entirety here. We’ve also outlined below the top takeaways for employers and employees on how to best manage career breaks.

Top tips for employers:

  1. Have a pre-leave conversation about how the person going on leave wants to stay in touch with the organisation. To what extent does the person want to be involved in what’s happening, and what’s the best way to stay in touch?
  2. Ask your employees what works best for them in terms of flexibility, instead of taking a broad brush approach. What may be flexible for one person might not be for the next.
  3. Consider paying employees their parental leave upfront when they really need it, instead of half before and half upon return. While this may seem unconventional, putting trust in your employees sends a strong message. When ANZ started taking this approach, their rates of returning employees were higher than ever.
  4. The new world order of remote work and part-time means that you have to re-evaluate and adapt what you do in order to help your employees succeed and make them more productive. Studio Pacific manages this by keeping a simple weekly spreadsheet of everyone’s schedule updated and widely circulated throughout the office. Download a sample version here that you can use in your organisation.

Top tips for employees:

  1. Be upfront about what works for you and your situation when it comes to flexibility. Don’t expect that your employer will know what works best for you.
  2. While it’s important to find an environment and schedule that works for you, it’s also important to take into account that your employer needs to be comfortable, too. Think of it as being flexible with your flexibility.
  3. Recognise that sometimes, a career break isn’t the best answer for everyone. Evaluate your own situation to determine if its best for you and your family.
  4. Don’t be afraid to be upfront with your employer about what your needs are with flexibility. Take a test drive on the agreement and see if it’s working for both of you.

Template Access

Founding Partners and Change Makers can receive exclusive access to a policy template developed by the team at Studio Pacific Architecture. This document helps the Studio Pacific team track their diversity and inclusion efforts across the business, and can easily be applied to the initiatives your organisation might be working on. If you haven’t received a link to it, reach out to

If you’re not a Founding Partner or Change Maker, you can still receive access to another template used by Studio Pacific. This document shows how the team manages their part-time and remote teams to keep everyone in the loop. See it here.

Up Next!

Due to overwhelming demand, we’re planning to host a workshop on the same topic in Christchurch on 17 October, and in Auckland at a later date this year. We’ll be sharing more details on these events soon. 

We’re always looking for more stories from people like you working on the front lines of change, so if you’d like to share your perspective or resources, get in touch at

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