As a working mother with a full-on career that involves an hour and half commute each way every day, striking a healthy work/life balance has always been a challenge.
This became even more apparent when the pandemic hit and my world got turned upside down with home schooling and the removal of childcare support.
However, I am very lucky to work for a supportive and forward-thinking company. Greenlight have always been very accommodating, giving me complete flexibility to adjust my working day around my personal commitments, even pre-pandemic. They have a well-established and practiced flexible working policy open to all staff. I am also incredibly lucky to have a great personal support network. My husband shares childcare responsibilities 50:50, my mother lives locally and is part of our support bubble, and I have some incredible local friends who support each other where possible.
Ove the past 14 months, I’ve found that the most important thing has been focussing on my mental health and finding time for myself. It’s not been easy to balance this with childcare and my working time, but making it a focus has meant I’ve discovered new passions.
I’ve made healthy eating and exercise a priority, and now I can honestly say I love running! I completed the ‘Couch to 5k’ at the start of lockdown one, completed my first 10k by December, and ran 110 miles for charity in January.
I also became heavily involved with a charity called Free My Meal, helping to coordinated around 350 food boxes to over 125 local families who were struggling financially. This was an incredible experience and made me appreciate how lucky I am to have my family and my career.
I’d also say that the lockdowns and various restrictions in between them, along with our office being closed, has actually improved our family dynamic. I am less tired as I’m not having to do the three-hour daily commute, and our family spend a lot more quality time together – eating together more frequently, regularly playing games and watching films together, family walks. It’s given me the opportunity to balance my work life and family life in a way that was never possible before.
As the world returns to some kind of ‘normal’, I’ll definitely look to continue working flexibly. I plan to commute to work twice a week with the rest of my time working from home. I’m strangely looking forward to the commute for some ‘me time’ and a change of scenery, and to strengthen the collaboration with my teams. But I still want to fit in exercise, and spending time with the kids. I know now that I’m far more productive when working at home and it has really improved my work/life balance. Technology has enabled us to demonstrate that we can work effectively, and productively, from home. And, as a result, Greenlight is encouraging staff to continue to work flexibly, coming into the office as much or as little as each team member wants. Whilst I know my commute will be tiring, I can’t wait for some face-to-face team meetings and socials. Life will become a little more challenging, but I know the occasional change of scenery will help my mental health.
To anyone struggling to find a good work/life balance, I’d say having a great support network of friends and family is vital, as is not being afraid to ask them for help. Try to do regular exercise to blow off steam and re-energise, you’ll be amazed what a difference even 15 minutes makes! If it feels like the balance is tipping too much towards work, then be honest about it with your colleagues and your line manager. You are only human. And finally, choose your employer wisely. Make sure they practice what they preach around flexibility and don’t be afraid to suggest an unusual work pattern if it’ll help you manage your personal commitments.
About the author
Katrina Butler joined Greenlight as CFO in October 2017, focussing on delivering finance best practice, strengthening the controls environment, and improving the Company’s financial performance. In January 2020, Katrina also took on the role of Managing Director, focused on improving the operational effectiveness of the company and delivering shareholder value.
Katrina obtained a degree in Business Studies from Sheffield University, and qualified as a Chartered Accountant with PwC. She has worked agency-side within the marketing sector for nearly 20 years, primarily in digital marketing. Her agency career was initially focused on Commercial Accounting for a number of high-profile international client accounts, before shifting towards Company Financial Accounting and Operations Management. Katrina is an experienced leader and brings to Greenlight a wealth of industry knowledge and operational best practices.
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