Are you looking for some guidance on how to balance your home and work life? Now in her fifth year of working from home, Lee Whitaker shares the key to her success.

"Be prepared" – How this girl guide motto set me up for success

May 19, 2020
In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic many office based staff have found themselves working from home. We ran a survey recently in which staying motivated and switching off were two of the biggest challenges raised (yes, they can co-exist!). With over five years experience of working from home, Lee Whitaker (Director, APAC - Kyloe Partners) has perfected her work from home approach - read on for her advice.
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I often get asked “how do you do it: full time working mum, Director of a company, class parent, member of the local football club committee and still manage to cook meals from scratch every night, and get time to work out?!”. How can I find a balance with all of this, especially when my home and office are the same place?

Firstly, let's be clear, it isn’t easy. ‘Work-life balance’ is a term commonly thrown around but for me it’s about work-life choices. What I choose to commit to, how I choose to manage it and how I decide what is important for myself and my family.

I can’t answer “what does your Monday look like?” without starting by telling you what my weekend looks like. I didn’t realise until now how much the girl guide motto of my childhood - “Be Prepared”, and be ready for anything that might come your way - has influenced my adult life.

Having a meal plan ready for the week - a mixture of easy dinners, including some I can throw in the slow cooker, and leftovers for lunches - with food already purchased, sets us up for the week. I take this to a further level on a Sunday night where you will already see coffee cups, bowls and saucepans all out ready for Monday breakfast, clothes laid out for the morning and school items ready for my son. A little OCD perhaps but it makes the next morning flow quickly and ensure at 8:30 my son is ready to leave for school on time (or at his PC ready for remote learning given that I am writing this during the COVID-19 pandemic!) and I am in my office with a latte in hand.

To be successful you have to be set up for success. Below are some of my top tips.
Find a clear way to separate home and work life...

I close my home office door when I am not working, a small thing but one that means I am making a conscious choice to work when I enter the room. If you don’t have a separate office space, I’d recommend closing your laptop and putting it away somewhere that it isn’t visible.

Those who know me know that I use two phones. This was a hard adjustment and I almost gave up but it was worth pursuing. This lets me make a clear technology split. There are no work emails, calendars or internal chat tools on my personal phone. My team can call me on it for urgent items when I am not working, but it would need to be a real emergency. It’s important to remember that we are doing recruitment technology not saving lives!

Set break times and stick to them...

This is even more important in the current climate. Go for a walk, lie and read a book, or try one of the many free online classes available. From yoga to body attack, there is now so much available at your fingertips and on demand.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it...

Everyone who is now successful at remote working was new to it at some point, and success usually comes after a period of trying, failing, learning, and bouncing back.
As I type this I think, how ironic, my key note speech almost a year ago today for recruitment industry event ‘Yarns’ on “Are you ready for the remote workforce?” is so relevant in our current climate. For the businesses and employees who were already prepared I wonder if this has helped them weather the storm of COVID better and will allow them to recover more quickly.

I feel fortunate at Kyloe that we were prepared with the Australian team already being homebased and able to continue a “business as normal” approach to our work, despite the current climate being far from the normal that we’ve been used to up until now.
About me

I have been in the recruitment software industry for over 15 years. Moving from the UK to sunny Sydney 9 years ago. I am now in my 5th year of working at home, currently based in the Northern Beaches. I have an 12 year old very active parkour, soccer nut boy and a husband who normally works away over half the year away.

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