Maternity Leave – My Experience of Returning to Work
February 2021 was a different world to me compared to when I left the workplace for maternity leave in Oct 2019. Back then we worked in an office, went for coffee, struggled to get availability for interviews rooms, and met people for lunches inside.
All that has since changed. Never did we think in a million years that we would be all working from home.
There are many advantages and disadvantages to working from home and having just returned from maternity leave, this is what I have found.
The positives are no more driving, sitting and waiting in traffic at Galway Clinic telling myself I should have left five minutes early is a blessing. You can roll out of bed and sit in front of your desk if you want.
You are more productive, you have less people talking to you (except on Microsoft Teams) and you are able to plan your day better as no one unexpected shows up.
In Oct 2019 I used a landline and only used my mobile 30% of the time and never called anyone on the computer. This however has all changed and now all your meetings, interviews and phone calls are on the computer.
This took a while to get used to, especially when you can see your own reflection on the monitor screen. Setting up Microsoft Teams is very easy, but when your work colleagues have all used it for a year you can be the clueless one in the office for a while.
Lunch time has become a special time for me as I get to spend half hour with my daughter who I normally I wouldn’t see until 6pm. She is so excited to see me as am I to her. We go out for a walk daily, this too has it benefits.
Organised is the key word when working from home. You need to have a daily and hourly plan. Planning your Teams meeting in advance, means you can organise your weeks better.
I find you are more productive as you are more focused, you don’t have the noise of the office, ringing phones, radio, coffee break and lunch breaks.
According to Deloitte Study (Millennial Survey 2020 | Deloitte Global) The pandemic has brought about an even stronger sense of individual responsibility.
“Nearly three-fourths said the pandemic has made them more sympathetic toward others’ needs and that they intend to take actions to have a positive impact on their communities.”
No more high heels, you can wear whatever you want, hoodies, leggings, whatever you are most comfortable to work in except when in an interview, then you would need a shirt or a suit jacket.
You can have a flexible schedule but I try and keep to my work hours of 9am -5:30pm as I work in recruitment people normally can call me anytime. Otherwise, housework is calling or family life gets in the way.
Going down for tea is no longer an option, as my family are downstairs and you feel like you get dragged into home schooling, dancing, making dinner. I do miss my double coffee before 11am.
Everyone using the Wifi at the same time, laptops, computers, Teams, or emails. When you’re living out in the country it can get slow and you need to work around this, turning off your camera on Microsoft Teams can help. Also, the electricity can go down which happened twice in the last two weeks, something again I would normally take no notice off.
Getting information is so much easier when you’re in the office. Finding out how to use XYZ now takes time as you need to call someone, wait for an answer, send an email, wait.
Missing the whole team environment in the office can be a challenge. The lack of a social aspect can be very difficult. I miss simple conversations like “how was your day?” or “how was your weekend?”, something that gets harder as the weeks go on.
I am starting to miss my colleagues talk about random things like boyfriends, nights out and weddings. We have a Teams call daily to break this which is good.
It can be difficult sticking to a routine when you can hear family life happening downstairs. Hearing laughter and people singing, when you know you need to focus is definitely the hardest for me. Hopefully in the near future we’ll be able to return to normal work life where we can meet up with our friends and colleagues to have a chat and a laugh.
If you’d like to read more blog posts written by our team check out the following: