By Rhian Beattie, Staff Inclusion Adviser, Human Resources
When I left for maternity leave, I didn’t expect I would be returning to work virtually with my place of work being my home. I returned during the COVID-19 pandemic and to a new post that was part-time (having previously worked full-time).
During my first few weeks in my new job, I had an induction that included virtually meeting my new team members, setting objectives and training. Particularly helpful was learning how to use Microsoft Teams due to this now being my main form of communication with colleagues. In the early stages of starting my new job, we had a team daily “check-in” via Microsoft Teams. I found this beneficial as it enabled me to get to know my new team better and gain a greater understanding of their job roles as we shared our daily “to-do” lists. It also provided the opportunity to check that everyone was okay, and for me as a new mum returning to work, being able to hear or see colleagues virtually was invaluable in preventing me feeling isolated.
My husband is also working from home, and like many, we’ve had to juggle having a toddler at home whilst working due to our childcare currently being disrupted. I must admit there have been times when I’ve felt guilty working when I’ve heard my daughter in the other room with my husband looking after her, asking for me. However, my manager is very supportive and allows me to be flexible over my working pattern when the need arises due to my caring responsibilities, which has been a great help.
Getting a divide between work and home/family life when working from home can be challenging. I have found having the same spot in my house where I set up my workspace helpful: I know that when I’m there, I’m in “work mode”. As I use the same room to have my evening meal with my family, I clear away my work stuff once finished to help switch off. As the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind”, although I know that’s easier said than done, but it helps me with trying to achieve a work-life balance, especially now that I work part-time.
During lunch, after work or on my non-working days there hasn’t been much else to do than going on walks, but I feel much better after having some fresh air. Although sometimes I wish I could do other activities with my daughter, she is very happy splashing in puddles and exploring nature.
I find stepping away from my screen for a couple of minutes and doing something else a few times a day is not only beneficial to me, but also to my job as it allows me time to think and creativity to happen.