Sunday, 28 July 2013

What a wonderful world?



I've been thinking of some of the big questions that affect us of late for a key piece of work I'm involved with. So when I saw the UN global survey on the kind of world we would like I thought I would know the answers. Here it is so you can do it too. But if you are like me, it will be harder than you think to choose. Lets's  be honest I want it all. But I know we need to prioritise, even here when we have so much more than most. Do fill it in it will make you think...

Demographic and climate  change in the developed world are some of issues that have been engaging me. Both in the world of work and in health and social care. And at some level too I'm living it. I'm part of the sandwich generation. In the UK I'm among the first age group of women who won't get their pensions until aged 66 but I also have an ageing, frail parent. I don't have grandchildren yet personally 
( although there is a certain
Jack Russell that has been known -allegedly- to refer to me as Grannie!) but many women and men like me are pulled between helping the ageing relatives and supporting grandchildren , whilst remaining in work simply because they have to.

If you throw in to the mix long term health conditions affecting people's ability to balance the challenging mix of their lives, especially in work you need to think very differently. Flexible working has been seen to be the answer to some if this. Working from home as an option we know can help people be more productive, have a greater sense of satisfaction in work and technology is starting to make that a reality for some. But it won't be the answer for all, especially in service, health and social care sectors. Will it begin to make it even harder to recruit to these challenging roles if they can't offer that kind of flexible working arrangements to those with carer or healthcare challenges?

My own move to the uncertain world of self employment is to enable me to work flexibly and working from home is part of that. I had of course had some experience of this and was a little nervous of the consequences. In a world where loneliness is the fastest growing long term condition , working on your own feels risky. And I know many of those I connect with, with a history of cancer have made similar decisions. One of the many hidden impacts of a cancer diagnosis. But the world of social media helps to connect even when illness or recovery affects full engagement in the world out there. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc mean it can come to you. I regularly Skype and FaceTime both for work and pleasure. I love the connection it facilitates without arduous travel and time away from those you love.

The other risk of course is having the right space to work and concentrate. Any work from home parent can tell of push pull of working and caring from home. Deadlines are met late at night while others sleep. It's not easy getting that right and getting time for your own needs to be met. How many of us have had important work related conversations interrupted by sudden yells from another room and known what we had to prioritise. But actually I like  working with people who give time to their children, older parents, partners, I don't need them to be automatons of work, I like that they are human. Wouldn't it be a great step forward if we truly recognised that all of our experience and vulnerabilities contribute to the richness we bring in the workplace too? Because its attitudes not just physical workspaces that need to change.

Reasons to be cheerful. I do enjoy working from home and if the dog joins me in her basket, it feels just right. OK I have had disguise my distraction at times while I ensure she gets out for a quick wee but I'm hoping its not been too obvious! There was a classic occasion in my last house when my distraction couldn't be hidden. I was sitting in our conservatory by the Christmas tree working on my laptop around my cat who was fighting for space on my lap. The dog was sitting with a toy in his mouth and all was right in the world. I started a phone meeting confident of peace and enjoying my rather lovely setting. And then I saw the window cleaner. The dog, alarmed, dropped the toy and the vibration set off the singing Christmas tree. And so to the tune of Rocking around the Christmas Tree, accompanied by loud barking I attempted to retain some professional reputation......
And I leave you with these beautiful reminders of our wonderful world and a reminder that we do urgently need to care for it better. I promise you will love them both.









6 comments:

  1. It's such an interesting observation, Aubrey, about people working more from home after a cancer diagnosis. I work from home as well. One thing that helps greatly with isolation can be having a casual or part-time membership at a local 'shared office' - these are places where freelancers gather to work, chat, learn, mix, etc. It's also really good for networking. :) ~Catherine

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  2. Yes great reminder Catherine. There are a couple of places I can use too but I also meet up with people regularly which has been a good balance for me. Hope things re going well for you. Xx

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  3. Hi Audrey,
    I work from home too now, often with my side-kicks, two dogs and one cat nearby. There are challenges for sure when one works from home following a diagnosis.

    And yes, we do need to take much better care of our world. Sometimes I feel badly about how we seem to have messed so many things up for those coming after...

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    1. Thanks Nancy all big topics, glad it resonated for you. It's a nice image of lots of us with our faithful friends alongside us!

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  4. Audrey, thank you for this very insightful post. My experience is that here in the United States, we are a workaholic nation. Despite Skype and FaceTime, not enough companies are taking advantage of these technologies to make things easier for their workers (in the case of those not self-employed). For example, I was once an editor and writer for a magazine. Then I got diagnosed with breast cancer. I could've done all my work from home, but my employer wanted me to physically be in the office. I spent one day working at home after being rushed to the hospital and unable to come in. Some employers do think of their employees and allow work from home, but in general, too many employers expect workers to be physically present on-site.

    Thank you for an enlightening post. www.bethgainer.com

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    1. Thanks Beth. I agree we need to be more flexible and its often habit or assumption that gets in the way. I think the future will make this happen but of course for many it won't be an option. I'm lucky I could take the self employed route, I'm loving it but its uncertain and that has st own challenges. I hope you are well now and able to make the choices that work for you.

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