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Saturday September 30th, 2023

Work, Play and Parenthood: Inside WSO2’s Inspiring Model of Childcare at the Office

Sanjiva Weerawarana Founder and CEO of WSO2

WSO2 is leading the way in a new era of work-life integration by encouraging workspaces that support careers as well as parenthood.

Finding a balance between professional responsibilities and personal well-being can be a challenge for many companies. However, this has always been a top priority for technology company, WSO2, and the launch of a comprehensive childcare facility at its new office complex sets a fresh standard for employee wellbeing. In an interview with Sanjiva Weerawarana, Founder and CEO of WSO2, we delve into the details and explore how the initiative reflects the company’s core values and long-term goals.


Take us through WSO2’s childcare initiative and how it reflects the company’s larger ethos towards employee wellbeing and work-life balance.

At our previous office location, we had set up a childcare facility primarily focused on serving as a creche, dedicated to children aged four months to 30 months (2.5 years). However, as we moved to our present office premises, we made a deliberate decision to allocate a substantially larger space. This expansion was to create room for a larger and more diverse range of age groups, effectively addressing both the present and future requirements of our employees.

We recognize the demands and prerequisites for childcare evolve as children grow older. It becomes especially challenging for working parents, as school hours often conclude around the afternoon based on the educational institution. However, these hours might not align with a parent’s work schedule, which becomes challenging. Our objective was rooted in identifying parents’ genuine concerns and it was not an abstract exercise, but a tangible response to a practical issue. It was not a public relations-driven approach either or merely a token gesture towards employee wellbeing.

The focal point is the authentic intersection of parenting responsibilities and professional commitments. The integration of childcare solutions was aimed at addressing these real-life challenges.
About a third of our team are women, a stat that we are proud of, and this is well above the industry standard. The childcare facility is also a testament to our commitment to diversity and equality in our workplace, providing more options for mothers who want to return to the workforce without having to compromise their children’s well-being, development, and safety.


With features like live-streaming to enable parents to stay connected with their children, how does WSO2 envision this impacting the day-to-day productivity of parent

The feature of live-streaming constitutes a crucial safety provision. Access to this system is exclusively granted to parents with children enrolled in our facility, ensuring their peace of mind. Parents can instantly monitor their children’s activities by opening a designated tab on their laptops. The primary purpose of this feature is to offer real-time oversight, particularly about the care of infants.

The facility’s management is outsourced to an entity specializing in childcare services. Distinct teams are responsible for different age groups within the facility. One team is dedicated to the care of infants and toddlers, while another focuses on older children. Physical spaces are thoughtfully designed to cater to the unique needs of each age group. The establishment of our childcare
facility is not motivated by an intention to solely maximize our team’s productivity. Rather, it embodies a sense of practicality and a genuine recognition of what holds real importance, moving beyond a narrow emphasis solely on output.


In a world where remote work is accepted, why has WSO2 invested in physical spaces? And how does this strategy align with the company’s long-term goals?

We’re shifting our approach away from remote work. With the onset of the COVID pandemic, remote work became the norm out of necessity. Fortunately, being a tech-oriented company, transitioning to remote work was relatively seamless. We adapted accordingly and even brought around 450 new hires on board within the past 2-3 years – that’s about 50% of our employees based in Sri Lanka. Many of these individuals were fresh to the job market, and remote work was their introduction to employment.

However, a significant challenge posed by remote work is the lack of pre-established interpersonal connections. These connections, trust, and effective communication become more intricate when you’re limited to seeing colleagues as small icons on a screen, often with cameras switched off. Therefore, we felt that moving away from remote work would help bring teams together and our current office setup was established with this mind shift.

Being in a physical workspace allows for natural interactions, casual conversations, and a sense of camaraderie that online meetings often lack. Virtual meetings follow a strict agenda, with little room for those impromptu moments that often lead to creative ideas and collaboration. In-person interactions enable greater collaboration, and more learning opportunities and eventually provide better career and professional development for employees.


Beyond the immediate benefits to the employee, how does WSO2 believe that encouraging self-care will impact the larger business outcomes?

As a software company, our nature of business revolves around creativity and innovation. Unlike industries with tangible assets, our primary assets are the intellectual capabilities of our team.
In this context, the value we generate and our competitive edge in the global landscape stems from our ability to foster an environment that encourages creative thought and collaboration. Our competition spans large enterprises worldwide, and our success hinges on our capacity to empower our workforce to contribute creatively and comfortably. While maintaining physical office spaces, our approach has never been about enforcing strict schedules.

Our core philosophy remains unchanged as we transition back to having more individuals in the office in the coming months. We don’t dictate specific arrival or departure times. Monitoring
clock-in times is not part of our culture. What truly matters is that each individual finds their optimal rhythm for productivity and engagement.

Beyond immediate employee well-being, we view it as an investment in our business outcomes. A comfortable and supportive work environment nurtures collaboration, creativity, and job satisfaction. The view on holistic well-being is how we prioritize our employees as whole individuals, not just as employees, which in turn contributes to a positive feedback loop.