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 Am I doing the right thing?’

June 15, 2020
- by
Jo Ford

 Am I doing the right thing?’

Jo Ford - Executive Candidate - CFO  discusses the challenges of juggling children, a new job and working from home, in her quest for the fabled - Work-Life Balance.

Many of us are facing exactly these difficulties but do employers realise that supporting and listening to what their employees actually need, will benefit them too?.... 

In the Forbes article  - The Evolving Definition of Work-Life Balance Alan Kohll claims;

By creating a work environment that prioritizes work-life balance, employers can save money and maintain a healthier, more productive workforce. 

Work-life balance is an important aspect of a healthy work environment. Maintaining work-life balance helps reduce stress and helps prevent burnout in the workplace.

Since becoming a parent in 2000 I have found the question of whether I am doing ‘the right thing’ seems to factor far more in my life than I ever imagined it would.

As a mother to three boys I have listened to other guardians, parents, teachers, and childcare workers and have come to realise we are all asking ourselves the very same question. Are we focusing on the right care, teaching and learning, are we reinforcing our best values?  Are we setting our young people up to succeed and thrive?  I have the added complexity of being a lone parent and the joys and toils of being the sole breadwinner. Over the years I have tried to attain the so-called ‘work-life balance’ and manage my guilt as best I can, but have often felt the negative pressure that modern working life brings. 

So when I was offered the role with Cirkularis8 I sat down with my children and discussed, at great length, the wisdom of accepting a role with a London based company, whilst living in Warwickshire. They fully encouraged my decision to support Kristoff Dubose, his team, and the values and vision of Cirkularis8. Being based at home with infrequent travel to the Southbank office started to make a positive difference to family life.  Meals weren’t rushed, conversations were lengthened and arguments reduced.  The worry of ‘am I doing the right thing’ started to disappear from my thoughts and I felt able to truly enjoy my work and family life for the first time in years. I admit, working from home is not for everyone and I have enjoyed (and hope to again enjoy) the change in routine that my trips to London have afforded me.

Having been with the company a few months my youngest son was given the opportunity of attending an amazing school that far better suited his interests and abilities. Again, the all too familiar question kept nagging away as I researched the complicated journey of getting him to and from school, whilst still making sure the needs of the rest of my family, and work, were met.  ‘Am I doing the right thing’  became a constant refrain.  Two of my children would be in different schools, the other doing an apprenticeship. How would I manage? Would London trips become more frequent? Would the role get harder? What should I do? I hadn’t been with the company for long, what if I was asking too much?.....

I had a truthful, open and candid conversation with the boss and he was fully on board; confirming that I was adding the value he expected and was on track to pass my probation.

Thinking back I shouldn’t have been worried; Kristoff is a huge advocate and supporter of wellbeing and mental health initiatives, and Cirkularis8 is a founder sponsor of the MadWorld summit and G24 mental health event

We all have various demands on our time, and individual ways of working, but the positive impact of being part of a company that embraces these differences, and supports flexible, adaptive ways of working, is incalculable.

Having clarified things with Kristoff I enrolled my son into the academy for the new academic year in September 2019, and the rest, as they say, is history!

Fast forward to May 2020! 

My role has changed and I am still able to support the team 100% and juggle the workflow in a positive way. The most unexpected benefit of my flexible home working has been the considerable positive effect on my family.  

My 15-year-old son is a different person. Words cannot describe the amazing change in his work output, personality, and overall attitude to life. And I know that is a direct result of being able to attend a school that totally ‘floats his boat’!  

My 17 and 19-year-old sons have also adapted brilliantly and as the dynamics of the house have shifted, we have become a tight and supportive family unit. My eldest has stepped up and is a fantastic support; giving lifts to trips and other family activities. This enables me to put in the extra hours to ensure that I support Kristoff and the team to put the foundations in place for CK8 to thrive and survive during this challenging period.

7 weeks into the lockdown and I sit and reflect, having had a great day of meetings with fantastic co-workers!  The vision and cohesiveness of the CK8 team shine through and I feel humbled to be working alongside such great people. I stop to think and shift my focus to home and the lack of arguments, and the amount of laughter that we have shared during this housebound period.  We have really grown as a family unit over the past year as I have been around to offer lifts, cook, truly engage in conversations, and listen to concerns.

The challenges will continue as we start back on site and try to reposition as a company that can adapt to whatever the future holds. I for one, feel more ready for this, knowing that I will not be faced with unrealistic demands on my time at the expense of my children.

Crucially, the revolution that is cloud-based working and the miracle of zoom has afforded us all the freedom to make working from home actually work! 

I feel secure in the knowledge that CK8 and my family have the tools and the strength to tackle whatever challenges come our way.

What I have learnt is that having a  company, and leader, that support the working journey of the individual, and ensure their well being is a priority, is key to a balanced, happy life both at home, and at work. 

Bring it on - I am finally doing the right thing!

Written by our Executive Candidate & CFO Jo Ford

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