Fiona Goodwin, Director of Operations and Planning, EAUC

Initially at the beginning of the lockdown my immediate thoughts were about our staff and ensuring they all had the means and abilities to work from home and supporting them through the transition.

I was confident that we had the technical ability for all of us to work from home as being an organisation with 2 bases we need to ensure our work can be done virtually – but some of the team were not used to home working. Before the pandemic I always worked one day a week at home so I am used to this – I actually looked forward to it as a day of relative peace and quiet to focus on work and not be distracted as much.

I tried to share some tips and ideas for our team on how to adapt, such as going for a walk before work and after work to feel like you have transitioned from home to work and back again and being structured (I admit I am not very good at taking on my own advice!). After the first week or so the team settled into a new regime and adapting for different circumstances for different team members to ensure it worked for them was important – for the early riser they started work earlier, for those with children they split their hours around the day as they can.

I think as an employer you have the responsibility not only in ensuring that your team have the tools and technical abilities to work but also ensure it fits and works well around their lives. This benefits us as an organisation as well of course – the happier the team, the more productive they are! We have always prided ourselves on being a responsible employer.

Now as we are further down the lockdown, it is time to consider how we recover and thrive as an organisation through these testing times so there are still more sleepless nights for me to worry about (I am a big worrier!).

On a personal level, as much as I find working from home much more productive (even though the number of Zoom meetings has risen substantially!) I have missed those chats in the office – the ones that just happen organically that make us all laugh – it might be a name that sounds silly or talking about a TV programme (or them moaning that I am not on Netflix!) – whilst we have our twice daily mulls with the team it isn’t quite the same as those organic belly laughs that you get.

In my personal life there has been much worry about my parents that both live at the other side of the country and the challenge of setting up online shopping and teaching my mum how to do that has been challenging. Having zoom parties with friends is a good way to maintain contact but I can’t wait for the time when we can give each other a hug again. On the plus side my vegetable garden is looking much more loved than normal and I feel very lucky that I have a lovely long garden which I enjoy spending the evenings listening to the birds and thinking about the next job in the garden I need to do. For me the feeling of the soil on your hands is the most therapeutic thing I can do (well perhaps 2nd most as I think wine still comes first!).
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