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Karen Sayers is a PMO in the Barclays HR Technology & Change function. She shares how she works from home two days a week, which helps both her mental and physical health.
I’ve had a great career at Barclays
Unbelievably, I’ve been here 11 years. I came in as a PA at Barclays Investment Bank, and just last year I was promoted to VP.
I needed to focus on my mental health
I’ve had borderline personality disorder and depression since I was a teenager, but it wasn’t until my early twenties that I got professional help. It took a long time before I felt like I was managing my mental health in a positive way.
In 2013, I started Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). It involved a two-hour group session and an hourlong one-to-one every week. Dynamic Working hadn’t been launched back then, but my line manager made sure that I could go to therapy. We agreed an informal arrangement – we just worked around it and I flexed my hours on those days. Doing DBT was hard, but I really appreciated that Barclays was so supportive and accommodating.
I got a lot of support from my line manager
I moved to Margate in 2015. It’s a long commute to the London office, but I felt that moving out of London would have a positive impact on my mental health. Dynamic Working made living further out so much easier. I’d heard about it through the launch campaign, so I spoke to my line manager about my working arrangements. He supported me to break up the week by working from home on Wednesdays.
Soon after, I started working in a high-pressure job. I was getting very stressed and tired, so my line manager suggested that I work from home for another day, too. We decided on Fridays because I was exhausted by the end of the week. That helped me manage my stress levels.
I now work dynamically for several reasons
I was recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I have regular hospital appointments, and my Dynamic Working arrangement helps me go to them. It also helps me do Pilates, which my physiotherapist recommended. My RA means I get tired easily, and that makes it harder for me to do the things that benefit my mental health. With Dynamic Working, I have the time to rest and practice self-care.
I benefit from Dynamic Working – and so does my whole team
Dynamic Working is part of our team culture: we all work from home at least one day a week. I don’t work face-to-face with many colleagues or meet clients, so I can have quite a lot of flexibility in how I work.
Dynamic Working definitely improves the way I work. At home I’ve got peace and quiet, which gives me thinking time and focus. One of the best things is that I can go for a walk on the beach at lunchtime. I can go paddling – when the weather’s nice! That gives me such a boost. Cutting out the commute makes me a lot more productive: I can get some extra sleep, which is great for my health and concentration, and I can work longer into the evening as I don’t have to rush off and get the train.
I’m proud to be part of Reach
I’ve been involved in Reach, the disability and mental health network, for about five years. I was actually one of the nine colleagues in the original This is Me film, back in 2013. People would come up to me and tell me they’d seen my poster! It was great to see the campaign was working – getting people’s attention and sparking conversations about mental health.
I’m so proud to see where the campaign is today. I’m now the Networks Business Manager for Reach. I run their SteerCo meetings, and deal with the planning and financial side of things.
I have some advice
Dynamic Working is about being organised and communicating well. Make sure you’ve got everything you need to work effectively: make sure the technology is working, take anything you need home with you. Tell your team where you’re going to be, and make sure they can contact you easily. It’s all about communication.
Also, make sure you have a good work-life balance. Treat remote working as if you’re going to work, because that’s what you’re doing. Have a dedicated work space, so you can walk away from it at the end of the day. And have your lunch somewhere else – not at your desk!
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