Jennie Boyle shares her thoughts on achieving a work life balance
This week 10th– 15th October marks Work Life Balance week. It has me thinking a lot about where I work now and comparing it to environments past. The pandemic (yes we are still talking about it) brought with it a lot of change, and not all of it bad!
A shift to working from home has allowed me many luxuries: a lie in replacing the time that would have been spent in traffic; I get hours of food prep back when I constantly had to be organised the night before to bring meals into the office with me- now I decide on a whim. Not to mention getting some of the laundry sorted between work tasks! Best of all, the dress code has seriously relaxed.
I have even managed the odd Supermarket Sweep during my lunch hour on a Monday, knowing that if I made the most of a fun filled weekend I could make it work on a Monday without having to give up my evening in the gym to sort out the bare cupboards!
But I won’t lie; it took me a while to feel the joy in this. At the beginning I felt I HAD to be glued to my computer 24/7 to prove I was actually working when WFH. I’m not yet a parent so felt I didn’t have the same WFH/ Home-schooling challenges others faced and therefore had to be reachable at all times.
I would be lying watching Netflix at 8pm and think, ‘Oh I’ll just check if I have any emails here’, because, you know, I was in my new office anyway and what else was I doing? Then of course, once you know what is in your inbox you cannot stop thinking about it until you have it done. I was afraid to leave the house during the day to complete any necessary tasks, e.g. appointments etc. All expectations I put on myself.
In the last 8 months, I have set myself stronger boundaries. I am strict with my 9-5pm core schedule (unless I need to deliver outside of this in which case I am lucky enough to work on TOIL). I make use of the rota days back into the office- and thoroughly enjoy feeling part of a team in this way again. I resist the urge to do that ‘quick check in’ on my emails until the mornings again (most of the time).
ASCERT have been amazing when it comes to the conditions we found ourselves in since March 2020. Staff were given the flexibility to work how ever they could manage for their circumstances and home lives. When restrictions were lifted, they allocated times for ‘Office Walks’ (during the working day) to allow those really missing the company to meet up outdoors for a safe catch up and of course support our wellbeing.
Everyone has different lives and priorities they need to juggle. I for one am glad that I work somewhere that means I can attend a much needed hair appointment on Friday afternoon by making the most of our TOIL policy. I am happy I don’t have to panic anytime a doctor’s appointment comes up, or have to use annual leave just to be able to look after my health. I enjoy the fact that I rarely attend a meeting now where a child or dog does not appear; in fact, it would be weird if this didn’t happen anymore! Everyone’s balance is different; I’m focusing on making mine work for me.