How is the pandemic and lockdown affecting PAs, their professional situation and personal lives?
PA Life spoke to Karen Crowley, PA at Baily Garner, Claudine Martin, PA at the Ministry of Defence and Lisa Neath, Executive PA at Sulzer…
Are you still working from home?
Karen Crowley: I have been working from home for the majority of the time. I have found it extremely beneficial working from home, with my work/life balance being much better. I have actually lost 1 1⁄2 stone as I have been able to cook proper meals and have found I do not snack so much or crave the sweet treats that were always lying around the office.
This week, however, I decided to go back into the office for a couple of days a week. I am not a winter person and felt that if I worked from home, with the dark mornings and the rain, I wouldn’t leave the house. So, knowing I am going into the office makes me get out of the house, which from a mental health point of view, will benefit me in the long run.
Claudine Martin: I work three days in the office and two days at home, depending on my boss’s whereabouts. This works well for me because, even though I like to be at home, I enjoy getting into the office and seeing my work colleagues.
Lisa Neath: I did work from home for a very short time at the beginning of the pandemic crisis, but returned to my office to support the Head of the business. We are an international corporate B2B company supplying the NHS and other key infrastructure industries to keep the country running smoothly during the crisis.
The benefits of working from home is that you lose the daily commuting time, but I found, personally, that I prefer to work from the office for the majority of the week. There was little separation from work to family life and, if you have children, you need to take interruptions into consideration which then affects your time management.
Has your working day changed?
Karen Crowley: I tend to work slightly longer hours, but I choose those hours. When we were in the office we had a fixed lunch and core hours when we had to be in the office, whereas working from home I can make personal appointments such as dentist, opticians, etc, and work around what is suitable for me. To keep my routine, I have kept my ‘getting up’ and ‘getting ready’ times the same.
Claudine Martin: I find that I work longer due to not having much face-to-face contact. I find the passing of information slower.
Lisa Neath: Yes I have worked longer hours including working as project workstream lead, managing and finalising a major £12m business site move that we have been working on prior to the lockdown.
What have been the biggest challenges?
Karen Crowley: I think the biggest challenge has been a lack of social engagement. Although Teams, Zoom, etc, have kept you in contact with your work colleagues, it is not the same as face-to- face contact. You can’t gauge someone’s mood via video calls.
Claudine Martin: The passing of information is slower. The output is still the same, but it takes a bit longer to achieve.
Lisa Neath: I found the separation from work to family life the most challenging. And wi-fi disconnection in the middle of important conference calls.
If you’re not back in the office full-time, when do you think you will be?
Karen Crowley: To be honest, I don’t think I will ever go back into the office full-time. It seems to work coming in a couple of days a week and I get the best of both worlds – and I’m still able to do my job.