“Families have to come first”

MTC’s new Managing Director Ian Mulholland on home working

As we continue working through a global pandemic, the daily workplace has changed fundamentally for many people. Those who were used to bustling offices and focused meeting rooms have had to adapt to trying to connect with their colleagues from their kitchen tables or desks hastily assembled in their spare rooms.

This significant shift in work environment  raises fundamental challenges and questions of how to motivate people and teams during this unprecedented period.

At this time the country is under strict lockdown, with schools closed. People are not only now working from home in isolation or alongside their significant others, but also now with their children home-schooling. Across the UK, people have struggled to manage their time as they previously did, with the lines between work and home increasingly blurred.

I firmly believe that families have to come first, for each and every employee. It’s vital that every workplace understands and accepts this. In a time of increased stress, anxiety and concern, it is the workplace’s responsibility to ensure employees do not feel compelled to keeping the same timekeeping as before the pandemic. Flexibility and understanding are key to any workplace operating successfully during this turbulent period.

This can simply mean ensuring you have created an environment where employees don’t feel awkward or embarrassed about their child wandering in mid-video call – or as many of us have seen, a pet making an enthusiastic entrance. We shouldn’t feel awkward about this – we are working from our homes, and our home life is bound to make appearances, however unexpected.

But in terms of timekeeping, as an employer we need to understand that our employees are now grappling with different distractions and priorities to their normal working day. I have made it clear to my colleagues and their teams, that if  there is an issue at home, and an employee needs to end a call – they should do so immediately and feel no guilt. Meetings and calls can be rearranged easily, and family should be prioritised above these always.

We should not be cultivating work environments where employees feel torn between family and work. Instead workplaces should seek to support their employees as they continue working hard through an extraordinarily difficult period. Among the Executive team at MTC, no one underplays how difficult it is to carry on in these circumstances. It’s important we understand our employees’ priorities and want to support them in balancing work and home life is a crucial element in continuing to get the best from our people as they continue working with service users, children and young people in our mission to transform lives.

I am continually impressed by the dedication and passion that every one of our employees brings to their job. It is our job as employers and colleagues to provide support and understanding, particularly in these uncertain times, to ensure they continue to deliver great things going forward.

But as a starting point, simply making it clear that we understand our employees’ priorities and want to support them in balancing work and home life is a crucial element in continuing to get the best from our people as they continue working with service users, children and young people in our mission to transform lives.

 

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One comment

  1. Barry Snelgrove

    Well said Ian. Our biggest resource is our people and their mental health and well being are vital for them to work at their best. Many employers have been too suspicious of home working, rather than providing staff with resources and support to do it effectively. If there is one positive of Covid-19 it’s the realisation that home working can work to Employers and employees benefit.