One of the challenges facing many companies during this time, including our own, is off-boarding; supporting and engaging with those members of staff who have been furloughed. Safeguarding our staff’s mental wellbeing and supporting them in the face of significant adjustment is crucial for any organisation and a top priority for Gray Dawes.
While some staff may be out of sight, they are definitely not out of mind.
We’ve introduced a variety of initiatives to keep in touch with our furloughed colleagues. Weekly live update broadcasts from our CEO, Suzanne Horner, via our closed YouTube channel let everyone know what’s happening in the business and the wider industry. These ‘town halls’ are supplemented by more interactive weekly sessions with our ‘At Home With The SLT’ zoom conferences – the chance for furloughed staff to take join a conversation with each member of the Gray Dawes senior leadership team. It’s a two-way communication, allowing for questions & answers from both sides and to see how everyone is getting on. Then there’s the infamous BIG Gray Dawes Quiz every Friday afternoon, with teams made up of both active and furloughed staff.
These are just some of the ways in which Gray Dawes Group are staying connected and engaged with our amazing people. But, here at ‘Working From Home’, we wanted to know what lockdown is like from their perspective; a non-travelling travel professional. Here’s what they had to say;
“What is life like for the furloughed? Sounds idyllic still being paid although not working but being furloughed is certainly not the same experience for everyone. In reality, when you are faced with home schooling young children or trying to fill those hours that your job used to occupy, it can be a challenge without resorting to mind numbing day time TV or binge watching Tiger King on Netflix.
This is how it varies amongst us…
Mum of Two Under 5’s Husband Out Working
This is a rollercoaster experience with emotions swinging between being thankful for the opportunity to spend some quality time with my kids and having a wonderful time… filling my days doing arts and crafts, baking, the obligatory daily PE with Joe Wicks ending with an episode or two of Pepper Pig…
To when will this end … my little darlings are driving me mad!!! I just want to have an adult conversation, a whole hot cup of tea and ignoring the desire to commit piggy-cide and turn Pepper into a tasty bacon sandwich.
Mum of Two Nearly Adult-ish Children
Life on furlough for me is a real mixed bag, but one thing I know is that I am counting my lucky stars that the years of having school age children are behind me.
The downsides – the office banter has been replaced with the much less pleasant background sounds of my 17-year-old son’s Xbox games whilst simultaneously and inanely chatting about their latest kill or goal to friends online and on FaceTime. Apparently “salty” is a term that can not only be applied to food. Who knew?
The upside – no longer do I have the unenviable morning routine and the mad dash to get everyone out the door on time. This has been replaced with time for actual breakfast rather than grabbing a breakfast bar at my desk around mid-morning. I am several weeks into furlough already and a lot of those boring housie jobs I have been putting off – DIY, cleaning the oven, paperwork & cupboards de-cluttering have now been done. Time to move on and re-engage the grey matter and learn a new skill… but what? So much to choose from; work based skills, learn a language, start a new exercise regime or perhaps my favourite wine appreciation classes?
Somethings however do stay the same. Kids must still eat at least every two hours. It can somehow still take a man-child 6 hours to empty the dishwasher, a week to pick the clothes up from the floor-drobe in his bedroom/cave and no man whatever their age has ever been known to master changing the toilet roll!
Mum of 2 middle-school children plus husband home working
Furlough for me has literally been like stepping out of one job to take on several others: Teacher, PE Instructor, IT Support and referee, all on top of mum, cook & maid. Having two children in different school years was challenging initially and there was some resistance to accepting mum as teacher to begin with.
We have now settled into the new home-schooling routine and most days things tick along quite nicely. There are occasional disputes, including the appropriate time to use the printer – apparently not ideal when hubby is on conference call! The key for us is the importance of balance; making sure we make time not only for schoolwork but leisure activities, social interactions and relaxing.
Overall, I am enjoying spending time as a family unit and the release from the endless timetabling of school, after school clubs and weekend football tournaments. I am not saying there haven’t been the occasional need for bribery, either with myself or the kids. Recognition and reward work just as well at home.
As an organised, forward planning and highly sociable individual, being furloughed and in lockdown was a shock to the system and a struggle at first. The previous work structure and the face-to -ace contact has been replaced with a much more relaxed lifestyle with chores, chillout time, zoom calls and long telephone chats with friends.
I have learnt a new appreciation for the village in which I live, my friends, my neighbours and for the beautiful English countryside and a good book.
Although nothing beats face to face interaction and a nice lunch & a glass of rose in a pub garden! So looking forward to these things returning. Soon-ish!
During furlough I have learnt a new key skill – how to endure a queue, which has fast become part of everyday life. That and the ability to negotiate the one way system around my favourite supermarket, ignoring those that can’t seem to manage it whilst maintaining the two meter rule at all times.
The simple pleasure of relaxing and enjoy a good book – I have finally completed the whole series of James Bond books which I had been planning to do for some time. I have also never been fitter, with long walks or runs in the countryside. Now the golf courses are open I will be making the most of them and challenging my son, back home from uni, to a round or two. Perhaps I will be the next Rory McIlroy?
Everyone’s experience of furlough is different. For some, a change of skill-set is required, or the need to adapt to a slower pace of life. Others relish the opportunity to take on new challenges or do charity work.
“Whatever the circumstances, some things are constants for us all – comfy gym attire is the only way to go, a quick glance on social media is nothing but, Amazon will always deliver, you can consume your favourite treat in minutes without realising it, someone else’s baking always looks better than yours and we all miss routines and those face-to-face interactions.
Whatever camp you are in, if you find yourself furloughed, it’s up to you how you spend your time. And it’s up to you to make the best it can be… this will only happen once in a lifetime.”
As furlough extends into the summer, Gray Dawes will continue to do all we can to support our staff, both active and at home – from weekly updates, zoom-powered conference calls, quizzes and even guest blogger articles like this one. Ensuring open and inclusive communication is, we feel, the key to maintaining staff morale during these testing times. And none of our colleagues are ever out of mind, even if they are out of sight.