To tweet or not to tweet

As part of my job I manage a professional twitter account. This involves constant interaction with individuals who are tweeting from their personal account, about their work…

With all social media the line between work and life is increasingly blurred. Twitter, for me, seems to be the channel where there is no line. My organisation are increasingly encouraging the workforce to sign up and use it as a way to engage and for those in leadership and managerial positions, even as part of their role. I’m not a natural on social media, it’s something that requires effort. I would say my performance on twitter is mediocre at best, but I find it interesting how much influence employers can put on their employees to use, or not use it as the case may be.

My gut feeling is that employees should not be missing out on anything by not using social media, or given brownie points for using it. Of course, the opposite is exactly what seems to be happening. One of my tasks for this week is to create a one page handout titled ‘Welcome to the world of social media’ for our new ambassadors to encourage them to ‘get social’. I can feel the resentment building up inside me and feel sorry for those who haven’t got a professional account to hide behind. I don’t want to be reading tweets from work in bed or at the weekend thank you very much, why should they?

For now I seem to be just about scraping by with the help of scheduling software which helps get messages out on a regular basis. But there’s no real interaction, and that’s starting to show. Hopefully by the time anyone has realised I’m actually no good at using social media I’ll be on maternity leave. At the speed that the sector changes it will all have changed on my return surely. I’ll think about it later…




Back to School

It’s the first full working week in September which means everyone’s feeling a bit down in the dumps after the summer. The weather hasn’t helped, which has been mainly grey and miserable. It’s interesting how September can bring similar prospects to a new year. School kids across the country will be re-inventing themselves in the year above, with parents footing the bill for new shoes, uniform and stationary (I used to love organising my new pencil case every year!).  But for those of us at work, life seems to bumble on with not much change. Although things may seem busier with everyone returning from leave, the re-introduction of routine outside work brings welcomed normality.

This year I feel slightly disconnected from it all. I’m still working from home due to pregnancy related hypotension and don’t risk my chances at making it to the offie without fainting on route. It’s been hard to find the back to school momentum I sorely need with the take off of several projects set for delivery early next year. I’ve got even less time – 13 weeks and counting until I’m on maternity leave and the expectation is that everything my end is going to be prepped and ready to go. Whilst I enjoy my work, it’s hard to give yourself that commitment boost when you are 6 months pregnant. The reality is, I just want to wash all the baby clothes and organise the chest of drawers in preparation for delivery day (of the baby that is).

I think it will help when I do eventually return to the office. Then there will be even less time and the pressure will be on. Hopefully that should help the weeks fly by. I’m reminding myself that soon the nights will start drawing in and it will be too cold to appreciate the breeze coming in my bedroom window. Maybe this year it’s ok not to get swept up in the back to school saga and instead drag out the carefree attitude in summer for a little while longer.

There’s always January!

Work and Gender

I’ve been keeping on top of the gender pay gap discussions over the past weeks since the BBC announced the salaries of it’s top earners.  This has seemed to generate a massive amount of public debate. This morning, BBC Radio 4 hosted a discussion on gender stereotyping children and the impact this has on confidence, wellbeing, career choice and as a result, pay.

As a parent, I’m sure I’m not alone in daydreaming about what type of person my son is going to grow up to be and what he will do for work, based on what I think he is good at. At the grand age of 2 and a half I have noticed he is very dextrous with his hands and as a result I’ve already decided to buy him a BRIO builder construction set for Christmas this year. I can only wonder if I would do the same if I had a girl who showed similar traits.

After reading and hearing about people’s gendered experiences of skills, schooling and work, it’s hard to admit but I felt a sigh of relief that I am raising a boy, with another one on the way. The gender gap seems to predominantly disadvantage girls. However, boys aren’t completely off the hook. I don’t want to raise a boy who feels he has to fit in to a certain type of masculinity. want him to be able to express his feelings and not to feel he has to be brave all the time. I’ve made a mental note to tell my husband to let him see him cry.

Yesterday I caught myself encouraging my son to choose the blue gingerbread boys over the pink gingerbread girls at Waitrose. I just did it automatically. Despite my subtle comments he chose pink, and I’m glad. Who knows what he’ll end up doing for work. I just hope that I don’t subconsciously push him to do something because he is a boy.


My Letter to the Guardian

Have you suffered at work because of your appearance?

Dear the Guardian,
After reading your article I’d thought I’d get in touch to offer the other end of the spectrum on weight based discrimination at work to being obese.
I have always been very petite thanks to having a fast metabolism and being a keen runner. My BMI is just on the borderline of underweight and normal weight but I’ve never been concerned about it as I am perfectly healthy and eat when I’m hungry.
However, I ended up having surgery for hernia earlier on in the year which resulted in 3 weeks off work during a very busy time. On my return, I overheard several people talking about my weight and a member of the senior management directly told me that I needed to eat and wasn’t looking after myself properly and that she should be my proxy mother!
I felt absolutely outraged that I was being blamed for the surgery as if it was linked to my weight. I ended up just walking away and not doing anything about it. I am constantly snacking at work and people always feel they can comment ok what I’m eating and my body image because I’m thin, when they would never dream of doing that to someone who was over weight.

Work and Guilt

Yesterday I overheard on BBC Radio 2 that women are more likely to feel guilty calling in sick for work, even when they are. This got me thinking.

For the past 3 weeks I have been working from home due to pregnancy related orthostatic hypotension, or in other words feeling faint from having very low blood pressure. The office have been really understanding, but as of yesterday I felt the need to visit my GP and request a note to continue working from home as my blood pressure is not showing any signs of coming up anytime soon.

On the one hand I feel entitled to be able to do this, and have reassured myself that my health and the baby comes first. On the other hand I feel cheeky and lazy, and have been worrying about the reputational issues at stake and the likelihood of coming across as uncommitted. Also, returning to work after a long period away is never nice and I’ve got a feeling that the longer I put it off the worse it’s going to be.

When it comes down to it though, I don’t really have much of a choice. I’m highly likely to faint on the commute or in the office so I should just enjoy this time and stop feeling so guilty, but I can’t seem to shake it off.

Let’s join the metro in making 2017 the year we stop feeling guilty for taking sick days. 


Working when it seems everyone else is away

It’s August, which means it’s school holidays, which means the vast majority of parents are spending time with their kids on holiday.

For those that don’t have kids, or don’t have kids of school age, the schools holidays represent a welcome rest from the business of work. Things slow down, the commute is less busy and stressful, out of office replies lower expectations and there is a shared belief in the office that nothing is going to get done anytime soon.

The last couple of weeks have been well, lovely. Despite having to work when it feels like everyone else is away, I can’t help thinking that I wish working life could always be like this. The stalling of projects and reduced email traffic has meant I’ve had more time to contemplate and get stuck into things that have been on my to do list for months. I’ve thought about the rest of the year, set priorities and noticed where improvements need to be made.

As a result, not only have I gained the sense of satisfaction from completing several big pieces of work that I’ve been procrastinating on, but I also feel much less stressed. Calm is the order of the day.

It’s a shame my new found tranquility and efficiency is unlikely to last. However, there are lessons to be learned; slowing down can mean you get more things done, and not simply more emails sent, but more pieces of work ticked off your list. I am determined to keep up this mentality and focus. As one of my colleagues mentioned the other day “I hate emails; every time I send one, I seem to get one back”. What’s satisfying about that….


Working and sleep deprivation

My son is not sleeping well at the moment which has come as quite a surprise. He is nearly 2 and a half and for the past 6 months we have been able to put him in his cot awake and walk out.  Then we took him on holiday….

On holiday he didn’t sleep well which I put down to not wanted to go to bed, change of environment, heat etc. I came home more shattered than I did when I left but was looking forward to his first night back into his cot. I couldn’t have been more wrong. To cut the story short he has been in our bed since we got back two weeks ago, and I’m finally fed up with having my sleep disrupted by getting kicked in the head.

When I was on maternity leave it didn’t really matter, I could nap during the day. At work though it is a different story. I’ve found myself wearily boarding the train after 2-3 hours sleep and just trying to survive the day. I don’t know why but I just couldn’t face calling in sick with sleep deprivation.

Since this escapade began I’ve made several mistakes at work, haven’t been very focused and have just been doing the bare minimum to get by. And it is starting to get noticed. So this week, I’ve arranged to work from home all week and I’m going to end this saga once and for all.

So far it’s Mummy 2, Henry, 0! But this has involved countless techniques, most of which have failed and I’ve still had to rock him to sleep on the chair in his room (even after setting up a makeshift bed for me on his floor and holding his hand in his cot until both my arms went numb). I haven’t planned for this battle to go on any longer than this week, but am determined that the last two nights have not been in vain. I am going to win this!

And never take him on holiday again.