In 2016, I returned from maternity leave into a new agency, Claremont. I brought with me a renewed passion for comms after my time away from the industry, but with a different set of priorities now that I have greater family responsibilities.
As the year progressed, I learned that work and life are so intrinsically linked - it’s impossible to separate them and I’ve made it a priority of mine to address.
Earlier in the year, I was lucky to meet with the inspiring Paul Lindley, creator of Ella’s Kitchen. We spoke about the term ‘work/ life balance’ being fundamentally wrong. A ‘balance’ infers that one is better than the other; and all too often, work dominates the priority list. Leaving less time for life - a tiny slice of goodness that you might experience at certain points of the week. In 2017, I implore our industry to aspire to a work/ life BLEND.
For me a work life blend means I have the freedom to go to my girl’s nativity play, to pick them up from nursery a little early sometimes, or go to the gym during the day. In return, my work ethic is even stronger, and I’m happy to work late nights or early mornings in return. I can hear Sheryl Sandberg’s voice in my mind too, that flexible working shouldn’t just be available for working parents. Those without children are just as deserving of a flexible approach to working as those with kids.
It is entirely possible to give everyone the chance to fulfil their ambitions, both inside and outside the office. At Claremont earlier this year, we all agreed our own personal and professional goals. As part of the programme, all staff received a ‘wellbeing’ benefit, a one off sum of money to help them achieve their personal dream – one of our team went on a scriptwriting course and his work is being considered by an award-winning director, and another attended a fitness workshop and is on her way to becoming a qualified fitness instructor.
Having the opportunity to pursue a passion and explore an interest will only benefit our industry in the longer term. New experiences will keep us fresh, keep us motivated and help us deliver better results for our clients. At the Women in PR Autumn Lunch, Karen Blackett, CEO MediaCom spoke about personal and professional development. At MediaCom, one of Karen’s objectives is to reduce her BMI. This is inspired – research shows if you have good physical health, you are likely to perform better at work. We could all benefit from that.
In 2017, my vision is that every comms professional has the opportunity to explore an interest outside of work, with the full support of their employer. I hope it's a New Year’s Resolution we can stick with.