It’s the next installment of our working from home diaries, as we bring you a collection of voices from our customers, journalists, influencers, commentators and Retail Assist team members, to get a good reflection on the retail, hospitality and logistics sectors and the voices within them.
This week, we hear from Matthew Proudlove, Retail Assist’s COO, on family life, not driving and knowing when to switch off.
Matthew’s WFH Diary
I’m happily stuck at home with my family. There’s 5 of us here, including my wife, Jurga, and our three children: our eldest daughter, 18, and twins, both 15. As our kids are a bit older, we don’t have the parental balance that others have. Luckily, the kids get on really well so it’s all pretty calm! Our eldest is just finishing her first year of uni online and is very focused, whilst the twins are struggling; they’re in a bizarre situation with their GCSEs and a 5 month gap before they can focus on A Levels. We’re trying to encourage them to use this time as well as they can, but it’s tough on them.
My working day starts fairly early – to me, there’s no point hanging around! I usually start work at 8am or 8.30am at the latest. Then it’s a busy day ahead; there’s a lot of emails, a lot of calls, many questions to answer, policies to change and a lot of different things to deal with. Although, in many ways, my role usually has aspects of all of those things, COVID-19 has brought different challenges to the business. The circumstances that we all find ourselves facing have adjusted quite dramatically and we’re trying to do our best as a company to respond to that. There’s no textbook answer.
As I don’t have an office at home, I’ve been mainly working from our lounge. It’s not ideal, but it’s been lovely to overlook the garden. Plus, working from home during the day means that you see what’s in your garden, as a multitude of cats, foxes and even a rabbit seem to use it regularly as a thoroughfare, to an extent you wouldn’t normally realise. It certainly makes a difference to Nottingham’s city centre!
What’s been really important for us as directors is that there’s teamwork across the business. I’ve been so impressed with how everyone in our team has managed – it’s been so good. We’ve got such a great bunch of people coming together to succeed in getting through this. There’s been a lot of good care about the people in our business, sticking together around isolated people and, ultimately, we’ve all been pretty calm, working hard in a calm manner. Our customers have always been part of our team ethos and this extends to them, too; we’ve been really close to our customers in a good way. We’re supporting them and they’re supporting us.
The weather’s been nice recently, so I’ve been trying to make the most of the garden – I’m pretty lucky in that regard. As my working day is 9-10 hours, I make a conscious effort to try to switch off in the evenings and focus on something else.
It’s pretty full on at the moment and my family are very accepting of that. At the moment, it’s work hard, play hard – I was really chilled out over the bank holiday weekend and enjoyed the sun. You have to draw the line somewhere, otherwise all you’re doing is just work all the time. You can either do work or relaxation – you can’t actively do both.
I usually go swimming several times a week before work, so I’m missing that. However, I go for a walk every day for 45-60 minutes, either on my own or with Jurga. I’m also reading a lot more than I would have done usually, especially more challenging books; I don’t think there’s a lot on TV at the moment and I’m missing football, so reading is the next option! Although the football season is on hold, Twitter likes to remind me of goals from this particular day 20 years ago, which takes the edge off somewhat.
I’m also amazed that I haven’t driven anywhere in 4 weeks. I’m thankful I have an automatic, otherwise I think I’d be in danger of needing to re-learn how to drive!
At the moment, I’m not sure what the “new normal” will look like. To be honest, I’ve been so busy dealing with the here and now that I haven’t thought that next bit through. When lockdown was announced and we were all encouraged to work from home, I did think “this is going to be hard…” but, now that we’re doing it, it’s not as hard as I thought it would be. Whilst I’m not sure how our new experiences of working from home will impact the way we work in the future, we’ve certainly all been shown another way.