Natalia Smirnova has never worked for a company in the traditional sense. Having grown up in St. Petersburg, Russia, she owned a literary agency before making the move to Berlin. Like so many others relocating to the city, she found familiarizing herself with German culture and mentality challenging. Being self-employed and a mother didn’t make things easier either, and she struggled to maintain a healthy balance.
Natalia felt as though she had to make a change and she realized that the majority of parents, mothers, in particular, were facing similar challenges. Still today, the role of mother often stands in direct contrast to that of successful career woman — a notion that is simply outdated. A mindset shift, the ability to rethink the ways that parents with children work, has not completely taken root yet. Someone had to be the first leap. So, Natalia founded her own future-oriented, alternative work environment, Easy Busy — a flexible and inclusive parent-friendly co-working space founded on the values of diversity and work-life balance.
“A lot of parents, especially women, feel as if they don’t have a choice between quitting their jobs to become housewives or being ‘bad moms’ upon returning to their careers. It’s a societal pressure in which most women feel trapped. Easy Busy is a place where they don’t need to make that compromise; where everyone can find their balance.”
Creating options is Natalia’s understanding of new work. People’s traditional motivation for working — money — is no longer the only crucial factor in the decision whether to work or not. “Everybody wants a good life. Work has to fulfill this purpose,” explains the entrepreneur. By rethinking what a workspace could be, Natalia opens up a new work dimension and frees many from the constraints of an all too common stereotype.
“We need to cultivate the idea that there are many ways to find a work-life balance. You can do it differently — freely — and enjoy being a parent, having a career and continuing to network. I wanted to create a space where parents are taken care of.”
Natalia’s vision goes far beyond just merging co-working and childcare. She hopes to foster a unique and intimate community that supports each other and exchanges based on common ground. In the end, she says she believes this contribution can aid in changing the mentality surrounding the combination of work and family.