Whether we thrive in the office or working from home - or like a bit of both - we all have our own story about how new ways of working have impacted our lives.
For example, working from home during the winter means some women can exercise outside during the day rather than waiting until night time, when they might not feel safe. Meanwhile, our recent research shows that for people who have experienced domestic abuse, having access to an office can be incredibly important: 72% of respondents said they felt safer in their workplace than at home.
As our people settle into Vodafone’s new “future ready” ways of working, we’ve been listening to their experiences of how this new environment has helped them navigate important challenges in their lives.
Demelza’s father was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year. Prior to COVID-19, she would have had to wait until the end of her working day to drive to the hospital. Hybrid working has allowed her to be flexible about when she sees her father, and even work while sitting with him during his final weeks.
It was important that I was able to see my dad as much as possible, and with hybrid working, it was a little more open in terms of how long I could go and sit with him. Quite often, if I had an afternoon of calls where I didn’t have to participate much, or I just had emails to go through, I would travel down and sit with my dad. I would get there for about four o’clock, work until half five, and then log off and be present with him.
My boss was amazing. He said: “Don’t worry, take as much time as you need”. And when I have seen my dad during the week, I’ve been able to log on again in the evening. I feel very lucky to be part of an organisation where I’m able to do that.
I’m a mother of three kids. It's been tough still having them to care for, and a really good job that I've got to be present for. I’m sure it’ll all hit me one day, but hopefully when I’m on a beach with a piña colada!
Now things are getting back to normal, I am enjoying going back to the office a couple of days a week. It’s nice to talk to people you wouldn’t normally chat to. I’ve been looking forward to mixing between Paddington and Newbury and continuing to work from home some of the time too.
When Mohsen and his wife finally brought their much longed-for daughter into the world, remote working meant he could spend more time with his family while looking after his wellbeing and focusing on his career.
After trying for five years, including three miscarriages, my wife and I were finally blessed with a beautiful little girl.
My wife became pregnant at the beginning of the pandemic, so she spent her whole pregnancy working from home to avoid the risk of infection from commuting. That made it easier for me to always be beside her, helping her with everything throughout her pregnancy.
When our daughter was born, I was really excited about being around her most of the time, witnessing all her changes and being there for all her “first times”. She is now 10 months old, and I’m so grateful that I have a strong connection with her because I’ve always been around.
Working from home didn’t just help me enjoy being a new dad; it also helped me grow closer to my family and elevated our wellbeing. It also helped me continue to focus on my career: I’ve experienced a lot of success at work during this time.
Emma has suffered from anxiety and panic attacks for many years and experienced a huge improvement in her mental wellbeing when she was able to work from home.
I was in the office full time before COVID-19, and I found the environment really overwhelming. I was used to feeling constantly exhausted, stressed and unable to relax - but I thought this was just the way life would be, balancing full time work with a mental health condition. It took me 40 minutes to get to work every day. My life in the week was an endless cycle of getting up, not having breakfast, driving to the office, working, getting home. Then I'd often be so exhausted that I’d just go to bed.
Now I can work from home I have an amazing work-life balance: I spend the evenings crafting, going to the gym, cooking and spending quality time with my husband and dogs. Tired and stressed is no longer the norm for me.
When we were all working remotely during COVID-19, it became normal to talk about mental health issues among colleagues. Earlier this year, we talked about returning to the office and I had an open conversation with my manager about it and told her I suffer from panic attacks. She also shared that she was also anxious – for her, it was about getting on public transport again.
When our offices reopened, my manager said I can do whatever works for me - so sometimes I go to the gym in the afternoon and log on again in the evening. She says, “You're a big girl, Emma - you can manage your own calendar!” When I do go to the office, I don’t feel the same stress and worry, because it’s on my terms. I feel like I’ve got my life back. I can take my dogs out at lunch and have a proper meal. And when I log off, I don’t feel exhausted.
The new blended working principle has also enabled me to progress within Vodafone, without having to move house to be closer to the office. I was successful in securing a new role in June 2021 without the worry of committing to a 140-mile round trip commute each day.
It’s great to work for a company that has normalised conversations around mental health and wellbeing in relation to remote working.
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