Sarah Turton, Director of Group Communications & Engagement
Sarah is adapting to remote working by adjusting her leadership style and flexing her hours to support her mother as she undergoes radiotherapy treatment.
How has your working life changed since the pandemic began?
As a single mum to a now 13-year-old son, my life’s permanently in sixth gear. I’ve had 11 years to master the art of being many things to many people; and long since learnt the importance of being patient, making compromises and being creative with my time. From a work perspective, I’m just as busy, focused and engaged; and thankfully I’m accustomed to working from home. Plus, Jacob’s old enough to keep himself occupied throughout the day. However, I really miss my team and the genuine energy and banter we share when we’re physically together. I’ve had to quickly adapt to a more conscious style of leadership as I can’t rely on those spontaneous conversations to generate new ideas, get visibility of everything that’s going on, or know how everyone’s feeling. While we speak regularly, I’ve been putting a combination of individual and team catch ups in the diary to keep connected and collaborating – but staggering the frequency and format to keep it instinctive.
How are you striking a good work-life balance?
Work has always given me a genuine sense of satisfaction, so regardless of the current situation, this is one area of my life where I’ve been known to struggle. Although I’m largely sticking to my routine, thankfully I have a dedicated work space that ‘gets me in the zone’. I’ve finally started to build some exercise into my day and I’m now resisting the temptation to continue working into the evening: even closing my office door so there’s a physical divide between work and play.
What’s the biggest challenge for you right now?
Staying positive and maintaining perspective can at times pose a challenge. I like to feel in control, so occasionally feel frustrated that life has decided to press ‘pause’ and I’ve no idea when it’s planning to press ‘play’. I think I’m finally learning to accept the situation for what it is and just be grateful – especially for the simple things. After all, if we have our health, food, shelter and loved ones – even if only through the eyes of technology – then surely everything else is a bonus?
How is Civica supporting you?
There’s no end to the support available – from Yammer groups and regular calls to share and inform on a variety of topics, to our Wellbeing Hub which offers access to everything from workout videos to confidential support. Civica is also an incredibly flexible employer, so having the autonomy to flex your hours to accommodate those extra plates (or dinner service) you’ve got spinning, is a real bonus. Plus, there’s a clear sense of calm and direction coming from our leadership team – offering a reassuring voice in uncertain times.
What are the upsides to your new working life?
I get to take my mum to hospital every day, Monday to Friday for six weeks as she undergoes radiotherapy. Mum started her treatment two days into the UK lockdown, so the combination of public and hospital transport we’d originally planned wasn’t an option. So far it’s working really well. I get guaranteed downtime and good conversation on the drive to and from St James’s, and can then catch up on emails and/or make calls while I wait. And, Mum gets equally good conversation and has the privilege of personally thanking our NHS for all they’re doing.
What advice do you have for others who may be in the same or similar situation to you?
Be kind to yourself and those around you. Have confidence that whatever your personal circumstances, you’re doing the very best that you can – especially when there’s no ‘how to’ guide! Don’t let the current situation define you or give you reason to apologise and doubt yourself, rather let it characterise your attitude and actions for the better.
What are your top tips for socialising and relaxing outside of work right now?
Baking is a fantastic way to unwind, although admittedly not ideal for your waistline as I’m rapidly finding out. Maybe it’s time to rethink my options?!
Any final thoughts?
Try to see the current situation as an opportunity rather than a challenge. A time to reboot, rethink and reconnect – with yourself, and the people and world around you.