Mediation co-ordinator, Alison McDonald, gives us an insight into what she likes about working from home during the coronavirus lockdown – and what she misses!
What do you like about being in lockdown and working from home for Family Matters?
Well on a personal level, the most obvious benefit is time! Not coming into the office saves me about two hours each day, and I’ve been trying to use that time to focus on things I’ve been neglecting like keeping on top of the garden and cooking new recipes from scratch. It’s also been nice to spend that extra time with my children, although the home-schooling has been quite a learning curve!
On the business side of things, I think it’s given us a chance to put some things into practice that we’ve been discussing for a while, like offering more video appointments and trying to be as paper-free as possible. We’re finding the video appointments allow us to be a lot more flexible and meet clients’ needs, especially while a lot of clients are facing their own challenges in lockdown, like their children being at home or changing their usual working routines.
What do you not like about working from home?
I miss the big printer in the office! It can churn out 10 pages in the time it takes me to print one on my little home printer. But I think this makes me a lot more considerate about what I print out and in the long run that will probably be a good thing.
What are you looking forward to about going back to work in the office?
Definitely being able to work alongside my colleagues again – it’s the one thing that has been hard to replicate. We’ve been very pro-active to make sure we stay in touch throughout the day, with scheduled video meetings as well as other calls to check we’re not doubling up on work, but it doesn’t make up for the spontaneity of office discussions and taking on each other’s ideas and feedback on the work we’re doing.
What would you like to carry on in terms of the changes Family Matters has implemented in practice and processes as a result of lockdown?
I’m hoping we can continue to offer video meetings alongside face-to-face ones – we’ve found that, for many people, this is much easier to fit into their lives. We’re finding this to be especially true in relation to the Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP) – many attendees found the 4-hour attendance quite difficult to arrange, whereas the structure of two 2-hour sessions by video works better for them.
What would you like to change straight away?
Nothing that I can think of – I think we’ve been very collaborative in the way we’ve implemented the changes, so where a member of the team had concerns, these have been worked through and resolved quite quickly, and similarly, where something we’ve tried hasn’t worked, we’ve responded to that and amended the process.