Grant Jenkins, Interim Brand Director
Having joined Civica in January, Grant like many across the UK, is trying to balance the demands of the job with his parenting duties. Making homeschooling work may be a new skill he can add to his CV, but it wasn’t something he was expecting to learn this year!
*image taken pre-lockdown
How has your working life changed since the pandemic began?
A lot less time travelling, that’s for sure! My daily commute could sometimes take over three hours depending on what office I was at, so less time spent on all that travel stuff is all good in my book. The flip side is that there’s the loss of that face time and those interactions with colleagues, which I really miss. That human contact is so important.
How are you striking a good work-life balance?
Luckily, we have a separate room in the house which we call the ‘office’ and it’s where I can work. That really helps. The office also has the ‘art station’ for my daughter, so there is often intense painting (and singing) going on over my left shoulder, at the end of the room! That space helps keep work and family life separated. At the end of the working day, the need to get involved with my wife and kids and getting the dinner ready helps to force a disconnect from work matters.
What is the biggest challenge for you right now?
My productivity is not where I'd ideally want it. Trying to balance everything, including supporting the homeschooling; keeping the kids going on a range of balanced activities (and not just endless Xbox and YouTube-ing); sharing the food prep and organising with my wife, it all takes time and can create a series of interruptions to the working day. When we are in ‘normal times’ and I’m heading off to an office (and the kids out the door to their schools), I can be selfishly focused on getting quite a lot done each day. That’s created some amount of personal frustration.
How is Civica supporting you?
The technology to be able to work from home is obviously great – and has made the whole transition much easier. But I think the biggest support from Civica to me is the presence of calm, intelligent and trusting leadership in the business as a whole, who are helping steer us through this unprecedented situation. It feels very much like the leadership of Civica are backing us as individuals and the business as a whole – that’s hugely reassuring.
What are the upsides to your new working life?
I’m getting much fitter (thanks to Joe Wicks’ PE session every day with the family!), plus a long early morning walk with my wife. I’m probably eating better – and there’s a lot more time preparing food together with my family which is great. The kids are going to come out of this with an enhanced repertoire of how to cook certain standard meals for our house – from macaroni cheese, spag bol, chicken fajitas, to falafel. They’re also developing advanced house cleaning skills (!) and mostly hook into it without complaining about the weekly house spruce on a Saturday morning.
What advice do you have for others who may be in the same or similar situation to you?
Be kind to yourself. Recognise that this is tough, in different ways for different people in different situations. Phone your friends, family and colleagues when you need to talk; when you are finding it tough – and that’s ok. My sister did that with me recently and that was really, really hard for her to do – I spent a long call just listening to her off-load. Oh, and provided you are confident you’re doing it with the right people, a bit of irreverent or black humour via the messaging apps, that’s good for cracking some smiles.
What are your top tips for socialising and relaxing outside of work right now?
You have to put in the effort. We’ve done Saturday coffee via video chat with an Italian friend most weekends (he’s here and a long way from his mum), we’ve done Friday night drinks with local friends and with parents from the kids’ social and sports activities. All of which can be a bit stilted and awkward at times, but helps keep us social. And yes, we can all look a bit rough and the room in the background a right mess. It really doesn’t matter – it’s the human connection that matters.
Any final thoughts?
Borrowing from Dr Rangan Chatterjee, here are three things to think about each day: What have you done for your body? What have you done for your mind? What have you done for your heart? So, do a Joe Wicks, log in to an online Pilates or dance in your kitchen. Then sing, read for pleasure, write a journal, or spend time in nature – if you can safely get to it. And then speak to or message a friend or family member, bake your elderly neighbours a cake, or send someone a card that says “I really love the way you...” (that last one will certainly lift a human spirit). Finally, again, it’s ok to find this whole thing tough.