It was quite interesting to be away from work on Annual Leave, for many, work is a place where there is constant change and business transformation on an ongoing basis, but I never realised how quickly home, personal and family life change as well. In this article, I try and compare how work/life balance has shifted over the last two years, and share my own story, in an attempt to give us all insight and empathy into understanding and collaborating with our clients, colleagues, friends, and family in terra nova.
I am an office person, and this has now turned me into an exception. I relate to people in a certain way, preferring face-to-face communication and camaraderie, and interaction with office colleagues and clients. As a family, we are dealing with my mum’s dementia, and it is through this process and her own treatment that I realised how critical interpersonal communication is for her, and how that part of her day is when she is most content. Seeing the impact of isolation and lack of clarity in her, made me realise how important clear communication is for all of us in a new hybrid working model, and making sure that colleagues who are very sociable are incorporated into a predominantly remote working environment. For my Mum, we have to address the ultimate change and transformation for her and move her out of her home of 60 years. It makes the recent change in my own working conditions seem insignificant, particularly when I still enjoy my job and the colleagues, clients, and company I keep! But as they say, it’s all relative.
This leads me to another example, which I compare to the recent changes in Aspira, where Pat and Colum took Board roles and we have a new organisation structure. As a seasoned Aspira employee, I have only ever known Pat as a boss, and without being too sycophantic, he has been a great support and always fun to work with as Aspira has grown and expanded over the last 10 years. With the ever-evolving business challenges that we face, it’s an absolute necessity to move with the times, and build sustainable teams to continue to deliver services to an ever-expanding client base. We have a good new team in place, and as such, l tried to relate my experience of this positive change to my son, who came into me recently with a face like a ghost. I assumed that the Queen had passed away, Boris Johnson had resigned, or the US had declared war. He told me that Sean Dyche, Burnley FC manager of 10 years had been sacked. For Alex, this was a traumatic occurrence, his beloved team was not only plummeting out of the Premier League, but they had chosen to do without the manager who had overseen the most successful period of Burnley’s history. As I faced up to the prospect of significant change in Aspira, trying to understand the implications, the reasons, and the direction that we would take in the future, Alex was coming to terms with what he perceived as the demise of his footballing interests. All relative, but in a short space of time, and through good planning and open transparent communication, Aspira continues successfully on, I have a clear view of our strategy and goals, and I even see more people in the office on a regular basis. For Burnley, to our surprise, change is good! With an interim team in charge, a renewed approach, and vigor, Alex might yet get a Premier League team to support next year.
We are a close family, I make that reference to both Aspira and my own situation at home. Throughout Covid, the interaction between both family and home has become a lot closer. I am someone who likes to separate work, by attending the office in town and meeting people personally as much as possible. This has meant that my working modus operandi hasn’t changed significantly, however, the people that I work with, our clients, and external consultants have all evolved into their own personal terra nova. I need to be cognizant of this when handling their concerns, needs, worries, and challenges. We have to find resourcing solutions for example, that allow people to work from home, part-time in the office, internationally, or through whatever medium keeps us competitive as a supplier. But we also have to be aware of how people feel, what impact the change of Covid has had upon people, what is their new normal and do we need to do more to take them out of isolation, back into their comfort zone, or encourage more personal interaction as leaders.
Change in our time is normal, it’s fast, and it’s digitally enhanced. I read recently that the oldest living person, (not my Mum!), was born on the day that the Wright Brothers first flew. Non there is a lady who is accustomed to change.