Christine Grange, Head of Marketing Services
Christine and her partner are both adapting their working days to care for and homeschool their six-year-old daughter Holly.
How has your working life has changed since the pandemic began?
I’ve always been fortunate to be able to work from home, but then COVID-19 happened. All of a sudden, my husband starting working at home, swiftly followed by Holly joining us. I’ve always been pretty good at planning, and these skills certainly proved invaluable with organising homeschooling for Holly. I now start my day from 5am so that I can get a good few hours work in before we take two-hour shifts for teaching Holly. Does this always work? No – we cannot always coordinate our meetings. Holly does forget we’re both having to work too and has appeared on several video calls!
How are you striking a good work-life balance?
We’re lucky to have a home office so that we can shut the door at the end of the day. When you have a six-year-old in the house, it’s a must to strike the right work-life balance. We make sure that when it comes to family meals there are no phones at the table, and Holly will be sure to remind us if we forget that rule! I also love running and getting out for an hour for some exercise helps enormously with my mental wellbeing. Plus, I’m not advocating that everyone rushes out to get a dog but a family walk is another great way to escape the home office. Finally, spring has also arrived so there are plenty of gardening jobs and nature lessons to be taken.
What is the biggest challenge for you right now?
Sometimes my husband and I don't quite coordinate our meetings to ensure that we’re not working at the same time. I also think that managing expectations for when work can be completed requires consideration. When I say the end of the day, I’m clear that might just mean 10pm when the house is quiet and work can resume!
How is Civica supporting you?
Firstly, having the infrastructure is an enormous help. I’m amazed to see no effect on the network despite the majority of the business now working from home. In addition, the updates from our leadership team are hugely beneficial to know what’s going on and helping me to keep my team informed. There is a real team spirit building, and it’s being supported and encouraged by our leaders.
What are the upsides to your new working life?
We now have lots of family meals together so having that quality time with Holly is fantastic. Getting to see her develop daily and spending more time talking together and expanding our daughter's interest in different types of food is lovely. Plus, the garden is looking pretty good. The weather has been kind, so the weekends are kept busy!
What advice do you have for others who may be in the same or similar situation to you?
If you’re homeschooling a younger child who can’t be left to their own devices, don't beat yourself up if you don't get through everything you planned. I started with a timetable and now have a list of topics and subjects to complete, which we do at any time during the day depending on calls and our daughter feeling ready to learn. There are some fantastic live learning sessions to help fill gaps in the day for variation too.
As for work: try to be on time for your calls; try not to reschedule them either as anything scheduled is sacred!; if your laptop isn’t cooperating, use your phone where you can; make the use of text chat with your teams; remember that everyone is home but we don’t all have dedicated workspaces and some like me have small children that don’t respect our space!; pay attention to others when on video calls; and finally, work together. Keep your team a team.
What are your top tips for socialising and relaxing outside of work right now?
We have a cocktail hour with family and friends over FaceTime to just chat and catch up with refreshments, and WhatsApp groups have been brilliant to keep connected. My mum even taught me how to make our family’s favourite biscuits over video call which was an interesting experience – the biscuits tasted pretty good too! There’s an occasional online board game with the family, and as for just me, running, cycling and dog walking are all helping me to escape the four walls every day.