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Weeknote 2: Goodbye H1 2021

Goodbye H1. Hello H2.

After taking my children to school on Monday, I skipped through the rain to the railway station instead of heading to my glamorous garage office.

Toot, toot! London office: Here I come!

It’s peculiar to think that something I used to do every day is now layered with excitement, anxiety, and newness. It’s familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. I worked from the London office for 3 short months before we went into global lockdown, so the office brings back vivid memories of my interviews, and it makes me feel like the new kid on the block again!

After 5 short minutes with some incredible colleagues I feel like part of the furniture again.

Exciting news... the kettle is back in use! I am powered by tea, so this is good news indeed. Since the office reopened after lockdown 1, the kitchen has been out of operation. So happy we have it back!

I start thinking about the future of the office and wonder what an average workweek will look like in 5 years. I hope we don’t lose track of everything we've learned from enforced homeworking. Our private lives crept into our work lives, our work lives crept into our private lives, and we ended up bringing our whole selves to work. I found it refreshing, sincere, and inclusive.

A Deloitte study found that 61% of employees “cover” their identities in some way and downplay parts of themselves (such as their identity as a parent) due to fear that they’ll be discriminated against or seen as not taking their work seriously enough. And unfortunately, there are studies that support these concerns. One study from Cornell University shows that mothers (but not fathers) are often discriminated against in workplace evaluations. And of course, the perception that mothers are less devoted to their jobs than childless employees is so rampant, it has a name: the “motherhood penalty,” or the “maternal wall.” - HBR Carrie Kerpen

I see no evidence of a maternal wall at Aptitude, but I have hit the metaphorical bricks hard in previous roles. Our experience shapes our behaviour, and I’ll confess to hiding motherhood to progress my career. Sigh.

While homeschooling is a memory I would rather forget, I have benefited so much from homeworking: I have two little people (Monty 7, and Coco 6) who love having their Mum around a bit more. And the feeling’s mutual – they are hilarious, thoughtful little humans! I feel fortunate to be at Aptitude, where flexibility is being embraced, and the future of the workplace is being thoroughly explored.

Like many others, I never would have questioned my lifestyle if it hadn’t been for this global crisis. I would have continued commuting into London 5 days a week. I would see Monty and Coco for 30 minutes in the morning and 1 hour in the evening before bedtime. Yep... just 1.5 hours a day! I would have missed their childhood. I’m on the verge of tears just thinking about that. 😭 I wonder what else I’m doing on autopilot. And I wonder how I might try to identify these other things without needing a devastating global crisis to point them out.

This is TeamSinger. We’ve spent a LOT of time together this last year. I’m both smiling and gritting my teeth:

To continue on the theme of our whole selves, this week was the inaugural meeting for the Aptitude D&I Advocacy Group. I’m delighted to say that I’m one of the advocates. We met Dr. Gilly Shapiro, who is working with us to help shape the Aptitude approach to inclusion and diversity. It was a great first meeting and I am so excited to see what we can achieve together to make this an even better place to work. We're going to start our research with a series of 121 interviews, followed by a survey and an anonymous ideas board.

The highlight of my week was observing our UI Designer, Rafal Ragus, share some initial design ideas for the Project Alpha logo. We have been collaborating with the marketing team to build a future-ready vision. And OH.MY.GOSH... Rafal, you amazed us all! I’m still trying to pick my jaw up from the floor. The research and analysis you shared were incredible. The story you told was captivating. The final concept blew me away! I’d love to share a sneak peek in this weeknote, but I’ve got to keep schtum for now!

My biggest challenge this week was trying to do enough to add value, without spreading myself so thinly that I’m of no use to anybody. I’m bold enough to guess that a lot of us struggle with this, and often reach the end of the day wondering what on earth we spent the last 8 hours doing! My approach (which has varying levels of success) is to have 3 or 4 post-it notes above my desk reminding me what my core objectives are for the week. They help me to maintain focus and act as a mini-milestone against which to measure my progress. I often wonder if I should lean into those ‘handy’ Microsoft Cortana suggestions, but I’ll be honest, I don’t like a robot telling me how to live my life! It feels like a struggle at the best of times to keep things human in this particularly digital post-covid world.

Well, Friday is finally upon us! And today we held our monthly UX retrospective! We set aside an hour at the end of every month to share our successes, talk about what didn’t go to plan, and then figure out what actions we can commit to in order to deliver positive change and progression to our small team. As the last retro of H1, this one felt a bit more momentous than usual.

Watch out H2, we’re coming!

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