My name is Lauren Peerless, and I am an employee services program manager at the Walgreens and WBA corporate office in Deerfield, Illinois. I am part of the Workplace Solutions team within the Property and Store Planning department. Our team’s mission is to transform the workplace experience to meet the changing needs of our team members and guests and promote a positive workplace culture that encourages teams to do their best work. I work with another program manager to provide amenities such as vending, parking, food service, dry cleaning and mothers’ rooms. Our larger team supports everything from mail service and conference room bookings to construction projects and facility maintenance.
I have been with Walgreens and in this role for 3.5 years. Although I get the chance to do a lot of interesting things as part of Workplace Solutions, my favorite things are projects that involve supporting working parents. A statistic I read once has stuck with me. Data from Bright Horizons’ Modern Family Index shows that 96% of expecting mothers say they are excited to return to work, 43% end up not coming back (or staying). There are a variety of reasons for this, but from my own experience years ago, the challenges of balancing caring and feeding a newborn while working were far more than I had expected. When my first son was born, I worked in food service at a university. Although my employer was “compliant” in the sense that they said I could pump when needed, the culture of my department was not as supportive. One of my primary goals since joining WBA has been to ensure that we promote a culture that supports parents so that they feel they can return to work and still balance their family life, and that they are valued for that choice.
During my time here at WBA, I have worked to improve our mothers’ rooms at our offices in Deerfield and Chicago by adding hospital-grade breast pumps that improve the efficiency of pumping and reduce the amount of time needed per session. I also launched the “Bump Box” program. Bump Boxes are curated gift boxes specifically for team members who are welcoming a new addition to their family. Items are for both parent and baby and can be sent out by a team, leader or co-worker.
As I mentioned, it’s more than being compliant, it’s about culture. In 2022 I created a new Business Resource Group (BRG) called Working Parents and Caregivers. By creating this group, my goal was to provide a community for parents and caregivers to share ideas and support each other. The BRG took off, and it’s incredible to see the immediate impact it’s having. The BRG comprises team members all with unique parenting journeys and perspectives. I am excited to watch this group grow and have an impact not only on its members but on the company as well.
If I am in the office, I usually like to be there no later than 7:30 a.m. If I am remote, my typical day starts around 6 a.m. with answering any critical emails that came in and then a calendar check to refresh my memory of what the day looks like. I have two boys (13 and 11 years old), so the next thing I do is make sure they are ready for school and have timers set for the bus. My younger son has ADHD and struggles with organization and short-term memory, so the whole process of getting ready and out the door in the morning is one of the hardest parts of the day. If I am going to the office and my husband is traveling (which is about 50% of the time), my dad comes over to help get them through the morning routine.
By 8 a.m., I am getting back online to start the day. If my husband isn’t traveling, he often brings me a coffee (another essential in my life!). My role is split between managing vendors and projects. I spend a lot of my time researching amenities and improvements, and then determining what would provide value to our team members. I also maintain our parking and transportation program for the Deerfield campus.
By 5:30 p.m., I am a full-time Mom taxi. Track practices, swim practices and doctor appointments consume our evenings. It is very important to me to be present for my kids. When my kids were very young, I worked long hours, weekends and holidays. I started taking online classes through University of Wisconsin about a year ago. It is something I have wanted to do for a while, and with my kids being more self-sufficient now, I have enough time to do it—although it doesn’t always feel that way! The taxi service continues on the weekend with swim meets being the main activity. It’s a great sport, but a time consuming one.
I have been remote working throughout COVID, and my children were fully remote from school for 18 months as well. My younger son and I are at higher risk for COVID, so this was the best choice for us. I have heard countless tales of what this experience was like for families, and I have to say we were very fortunate. My kids did very well with e-learning. I can’t imagine having gone through this if my kids had been a lot younger. Now, our office team members work in a hybrid approach, which gives us great flexibility and has allowed me to preserve important family time, which I truly grew to appreciate during COVID.
In my personal time, I love to travel and be outdoors. After working in seasonal jobs all over the country in my 20s, I decided that travel was going to be a priority for me. I have learned so much about myself and the world through travel, and I want my kids to have that perspective as well. I met my husband working in Denali National Park in Alaska. We both love to camp, especially backcountry. Our annual travel always includes at least one big camping trip. Traveling with a family of four doesn’t have to be expensive, but it involves some creativity and flexibility. I have mastered the use of frequent flier miles, and we are flexible with where we go. There are tons of places you never knew you wanted to go until you get there!
My entire career has been driven by change. From my time in seasonal work to the present, each opportunity I’ve had came from taking a chance and learning something new. I am looking forward to how we change and grow not only at the office, but as a company in this new economy and world. My role will certainly evolve, and so will many others. My advice to anyone who is nervous about what may come is to immerse yourself in it and be a part of that change. I would never be where I am today without being flexible and willing to try new things.