Chloe Upston, Group Organisational Development Consultant
Chloe works in the Civica Academy team and is sharing the childcare of her son Roman with her partner, a postal worker.
How has your working life changed since the pandemic began?
It’s flexible working at its finest! My partner is a key worker so I’m taking the majority of the childcare for our nearly two-year-old son Roman. Prior to the pandemic, I would occasionally work from home, particularly when I have a project or task to focus on, so it’s not been too much of a huge change for me. I am however certainly missing the social interaction in the office so the team and I now have a regular virtual cuppa! The biggest change now is having Roman around while working, so trying to find the balance of working and keeping him entertained sometimes leads to my kitchen cupboards being emptied while on a conference call! Although, I have to say it’s not as difficult as I thought it would be… I think the sense of all being in this together helps.
How are you striking a good work-life balance?
I’ve set myself a timetable for the week for when I’m working with Roman, when I’m able to work with no distraction (my partner’s non-working day or when Roman is sleeping) and when I’m not working at all. Having this set structure in place guides me through the week. I always make sure I switch off early evening and have dinner with my son. I’m really taking advantage of this as it’s not something I’ve always done if I’ve travelled back from work late. If I need to I would much rather carry on working when he’s in bed. I’m also trying to do more home exercise with my son and more reading. I’ve even invested in some adult colouring books and pencils! I’ve also booked some annual leave over the next few weeks to help with that balance.
What is the biggest challenge for you right now?
There aren’t that many work challenges – we’ve adapted to the new situation really well despite tasks and priorities changing, as expected. My biggest challenge is at home and the ‘mum guilt’ I sometimes feel for not providing enough stimulation or entertainment for my son. However when I reflect and talk to my friends/family about this I realise it purely is just ‘mum guilt’ and he’s having a great time with me being around more! He’s also benefitted from a load more new toys I purchased as soon as I heard the nursery was shutting!
How is Civica supporting you?
I have all the equipment necessary for a desk set up at home and my line manager and wider team are all extremely supportive. We constantly check in on each other, I know what needs doing and by when, and what the priority is. There’s also a great sense of innovation to make things better and think of new ideas and ways of working during this time, which will support us in the long term! For example, we’re now doing more virtual training delivery, some of which we’ve never done before and the feedback is fantastic. We’ve also set up some really useful Yammer groups, such as the sharing of self-directed learning content and a parents/guardians group with resources to keep the kids entertained. There’s a great sense of community and sharing.
What are the upsides to your new working life?
I’m grateful to have more dedicated time with the family and watching my son learn new things every day. No long car journeys and getting stuck in traffic when I want to get home. Time to reflect on what’s important in life. The improvement to the environment. The realisation that we don’t always need to travel to that face-to-face meeting as it could have easily been done virtually. Within the Civica Academy team, we’ve adjusted our training for virtual delivery and will now be putting even more virtual sessions into our calendar from hereon!
What advice do you have for others who may be in the same or similar situation to you?
Put together a timetable for your work time and home time and stick to it, then share your new schedule with your manager and wider team. Don’t worry about ‘judgment’ when on calls and the little one is talking in the background. Simply put, don’t let the ‘mum guilt’ get to you – we’re all doing a great job!