DPP Director Jo Robison shares her personal thoughts on a ‘new way of working’:
“Lots of organisations have been working very hard in this unprecedented period to deliver ‘business as usual’ and maintain normal service delivery as far as we possibly can.
For DPP this has not been too much of a challenge; we have been making use of remote working tools across our business for some time and already have the communication and IT systems in place to continue to provide the required levels of service our clients and contacts expect. Part of our new normal is the daily virtual meetings with the team to make sure that everyone is coping with remote working, tasks are prioritised, and staff are keeping safe and well.
In addition to this, we are positively experiencing the wider planning sector starting to adapt to the current situation, with a growing number of delegated decisions and some local authorities embracing technology to allow planning decisions to be made remotely, which – perhaps most importantly – will make sure that projects can deliver out of the ground post-crisis in what will be a strong signal of economic recovery. I am sure more local authorities will follow suit.
What has been far more of a challenge for me over the past few weeks – and I know I won’t be alone in this – is maintaining an appropriate home/work balance that, alongside a full time job, now also includes home schooling, PE and in-house children’s entertainment!
We have three daughters across a spectrum of ages (aged 20, 15 and 8); each one has different routine and we are finding that this is helping the household function as smoothly as possible and fall outs are kept to a minimum!
Our eldest is at university, training to be a Mental Health Nurse. She moved back home when the situation started to escalate but we are very proud of her as she is putting her skills to good use and is working as a bank nurse in the community to take the place of those that are now working at the frontline.
Our 15-year-old is in Year 10 so has plenty of remote schoolwork to keep her busy as she studies towards her GCSEs. As a very typical teenager, she is particularly enjoying self-isolating in her bedroom and daily video chats with her friends.
We have needed to be most adaptable for our youngest, who is highly energetic and loves her sport. Being confined by our four walls and the garden and not seeing her friends is quite the culture shock for her. However, she has got into the spirit of things, as have we.
Establishing a routine has been key and we have made a point of setting a timetable every day, which has pride of place on the fridge.
This includes the obligatory family exercise session with Joe Wicks as well as supported learning with her work set by her school and we occasionally sit side by side on laptops working through tasks in rare flashes of quiet calm. Like a lot of parents, we are splitting our responsibilities between our jobs and childcare. My husband and I work as a tag team each day, we normally split the day between us and work our meeting schedules around childcare so we never plan conference calls or video meetings at the same time to make sure one of us is on hand for the kids.
This has often meant that our work schedule takes us into the evening, returning to our desks after dinner, or very early in the morning before the house wakes up, but its quickly become the new normal as we make sure that everyone in our house is looked after, can communicate their worries and thoughts and has the attention they deserve to help keep happy, calm children (and adults!).
None of us have ever been through anything like this before and I have to say all of our children have been brilliant. Whether that changes as the lockdown continues remains to be seen, but we are all proving to be adaptable!”