From Hawaii to Dublin — How Flexible Work Enabled Me to Grow and Redefine What’s Possible

Sponsored by Squarespace

Laurah Mwirichia. Photo courtesy of Squarespace.

Laurah Mwirichia. Photo courtesy of Squarespace.

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Fairygodboss
May 28, 2024 at 9:45AM UTC

When Laurah Mwirichia was searching for her next job, she had a few very important requirements.

  1. She wanted to work at a company that didn’t bring harm to the world.

  2. She needed to find a company that would allow her to be hired in Hawaii before taking a few months off to move to Dublin and be employed there.

Luckily for Mwirichia, she was able to meet both needs as a Senior UX Content Strategist for the Design Platform and Accessibility teams at Squarespace.

For the first requirement, Mwirichia found that Squarespace is “a company that empowers their users, enabling people to start businesses, put up their portfolios, and claim a little real estate on the world wide web for themselves,” she explains.

As for flexibility, well, that’s a cornerstone of the Squarespace culture. As the company puts it, prioritizing flexibility and opportunities for face-to-face collaboration are both important elements of their work philosophy. In fact, the company believes that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach that will work for every individual and every role, so they’ve empowered individuals, managers, and department leaders to determine the appropriate approach to flexible work for them. 

For Mwirichia, her location change and remote work is what’s best for her as an individual. “Flexible work is extremely important,” emphasizes Mwirichia. “I would absolutely not be where I am right now without the flexibility offered by the jobs I’ve had.” Throughout her past experiences, she discovered that she could easily work asynchronously with colleagues and found that uninterrupted work time was essential for her workstyle — and Squarespace fully supports these needs! The company is fully invested in the needs of their employees and appreciates the varied ways in which people do their best work individually and together.

Here, Mwirichia shares more about her unique journey, flexible work, and how Squarespace's support made it all possible.

Let’s start at the beginning of your journey. You were one of Squarespace’s first hires out of Hawaii. Congratulations! What was this experience like for you?

My last job went fully remote in 2021, so I decided to leave New York and head to somewhat warmer pastures. It was never a permanent move, but I needed time away to reorient myself and figure out next steps. 

So, when the opportunity came with Squarespace, it was quite a shock when they informed me that my Dublin relocation was not an issue and that we’d figure out how to make Hawaii a remote location for me temporarily. I strongly considered moving back to Iowa to stay with my folks — even if just for a little — so I’d be able to accept the position at Squarespace. Surprisingly, Squarespace came back and let me know that not only did they find a way to make Hawaii work, but that I would also be one of the first Hawaii hires at the company. That was amazing news! 

What practices or routines helped you navigate your work-from-home experience in Hawaii and the time zone differences? How at all have these practices changed since your move to Ireland?  

In my previous role, my team was mainly west-coast based, so working Hawaii hours was never a big issue. However, a large employee base for Squarespace is the East Coast, so the time difference was quite staggering. It’s a six-hour difference, and I had a lot of early starts (like six a.m. or seven a.m.)! Thankfully, my cross-functional teams were incredibly accommodating. We moved some key meetings and standups to overlapping times so I could attend, and it ended up working out. 

Comparatively, Ireland is the complete opposite. I’m six hours ahead, and it’s the best! For one, I’m never online alone because we have teams here. I also get a solid block of about four-to-five hours where I have built-in focus time. For me, mornings are the best time to get things done. I’m caffeinated, I’ve read my Tarot cards, and I’m ready to slay. By lunch, I’m slowing down, so having those hours of uninterrupted time to think and do things early on in the day really works for me. By lunch, folks in NY are online, and I’m fully prepared for my meetings, workshops, team syncs, and a little idle chat with coworkers.

Because my teams are spread from Dublin to San Francisco, there are actually two days a week (Monday and Tuesday) that I work until seven p.m. to make sure that everyone is accounted for. Then, from Wednesday to Friday, I work from nine a.m. to five p.m. so I can keep my work-life balance here. It’s a very solid schedule for me, and I really like the mid-week time shift. #happyhumpday

Could you tell us more about your transition to Squarespace’s Dublin location? How did you go about making this move and why? 

The move to Dublin was an important personal and career decision. Living in Hawaii was nice, but the pace was far too slow for me. I wanted to be somewhere that was still a city, had that NYC energy, but also could give me a work-life balance that I could maintain for a long time to come. Dublin offered all of this for me. 

I also know a lot of other content designers and content strategists that moved to Dublin and really love working here. It’s a little tech-hub with companies like Squarespace. I felt like I could keep meeting new people in the industry, learn about tech in Europe, still be in a walkable city, and not get burnt out. 

The last reason is that my hiring manager was actually very excited about the idea of having a design presence in the Dublin office. This offers a new perspective to the work that we do and helps keep us challenged and avoid a U.S.-centric model of design (which is easy to fall into). The hope is that one day, perhaps, there will be more folks from the design side of things here in Dublin. I love the idea of helping to pioneer that!

What have you enjoyed most about your move to Ireland and specifically being a part of the Squarespace Dublin office?

My favorite part about moving to Ireland has been how kind the people are here (sorry NYC). I go into the office about once a week and even more when the weather is good. The team at the Dublin office brings in lunch, organizes meetups, hosts rooftop parties, and does their best to make employees feel included and cared for. I’ve met some great people from teams I’d never interact with otherwise, and in that process I’ve discovered a lot about myself and the work I do. How can we design better experiences? Where do our shared goals overlap? What are some areas that are ripe for cross-collaboration? It’s a ton of fun to explore.

How is the experience of being in Dublin as a Squarespace employee? How has your approach to work shifted with this change?  

Being in Dublin as an employee has been really good for me, and certainly what I needed in my career. I’ve had time to think and reflect about what I want to put into the world and what kind of experiences I want to be responsible for creating

In Dublin, I feel enabled to step into my creative zone: my ‘zone of genius.’ Now, instead of constantly chasing some unattainable career clout, I feel like I’m in a place where I have the energy to produce what I hope to be some of the best work of my career. I’m incredibly grateful to Squarespace for giving me that privilege, and enabling me to live that dream. 

What advice do you have for women looking to move to a new country for additional work experience?  

It’s not easy; but if it is what you want, then it is worth it! I know several people who made the move, and not one has any regrets about the choice, including myself. 

The biggest thing I’d say to my fellow women is to have a plan in place. What does immigration look like? Can you negotiate moving costs? Is salary negotiable? What are the taxes going to be like? Is there any support in place for international employees? How stable is the industry and the position? Shop around first, and don’t settle for the first offer. Wait until the right one comes around before making such a big and life-changing decision. Then, when you’re ready, make the jump! 



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