We asked a random selection of PDS staff to reflect on the challenges they have faced during the Covid-19 pandemic, what they have learned about themselves and what, if any, lifestyle changes they have made.
In this third and final blog post of the series, our contributors give us their honest thoughts on the guiding principles and 'It's ok to' guidance. They tell us how, and if, it has worked for them and their teams to improve that all-important work-life balance.
Elisa Rubio, Head of Provisioning
The past 11 months have been the busiest of my career. My team’s workload has increased hugely, and we have had to work onsite throughout and adapt to changing rules and circumstances, so it has been an enormous challenge.
I discovered a Microsoft app called To Do which I found transformative. I can add things to it wherever I am just by logging on to Office 365, which is brilliant as I often remember things to do when I am away from my notebook.
When the ‘It’s ok to’ guidance was published, I thought that it did not apply to me as I did not have the time to do those things. Over time, I realised it was up to me to make the change and find the time.
Dressing down, camera off
I find it helpful to not to turn my camera on for every meeting and to dress down. I have worn slippers and trainers for so long that the other day I put my work shoes on to go onsite and they felt uncomfortable!
With my children at home, I make sure I have a proper lunch break with them and reject meetings that clash with that.
I thought I would get a lot of time for my hobby, sewing. However, I felt under pressure if I didn’t do any sewing at the weekend, it felt like I wasted time. I now work on smaller projects that don’t require a lot of time but give me a sense of accomplishment.
My advice to colleagues is always be kind to others, but don’t forget to be kind to yourself.
Paul Lappin, Mobile and Broadband Manager
Like many I have put weight on which is a bad thing but have focused on home life and keep in contact with family more frequently. I did have to support a family member who works in care and found the first lockdown very difficult and worrying.
I have learnt that I am much more comfortable with home working than I expected. I have a much clearer working day and don’t read or access work related emails outside working hours, something I used to do a lot before lockdown. It means I relax and unwind more readily. I do try and walk every day, although since I live in a high Covid area I have been more cautious since December.
Celebrating birthdays, even those of our pets
We have daily team meetings about work but always start and focus on each other’s wellbeing and having fun. We celebrate birthdays (including our pets), have had two weddings and celebrated births with former team members.
Reviewing the list in ‘It’s ok to’ I think we manage to do most of the positive things, although back-to-back meetings for hours in a row can make it hard to focus. You end up trying to deal with emails and messages during the meetings.
I think it would be helpful to have a department wide policy of not having meetings over a specified lunch period, say between 12 noon and 1.30 pm.
Sarah O’Carroll, Test Manager
I know I’m lucky. I’m not trying to home-school or look after sick people, so the impact is mainly on my spontaneity. I miss meeting up with my weekly parkrun group and complaining that we’re up far too early on a Saturday.
I really like wandering around and popping into places without planning. When the pandemic hit and you suddenly had to book in advance, it really showed me how often I go into places on a whim.
I also noticed that I wasn’t moving. No walk to the station, no parkrun and I was finding it difficult to motivate myself. I joined a fitness group to do live online classes and we return to the hall for group sessions when we’re be able to (masks, sanitiser and personal training zones in operation). More work on strength than I’ve done in a while. Still can’t do press ups though.
It's too easy to say "10 more minutes"
I still need to learn to switch off work at a sensible time. It’s too easy to say “10 more minutes then I’ll be done” when there is no train to catch.
My advice to colleagues is that craft projects are fun and a good way to pass the time. Hand-stitching a quilt is not something I’d recommend. There is a reason we have sewing machines.