• CAH

Inside CAH: Working from home and settling disputes...over crayons

It’s not often that during office hours working for a local Citizens Advice Bureau that you have to deal with domestic disputes over play-dough and whether or not a red crayon belongs to one person or another but that has been the reality for many of us who have continued working full time from home during this lock down period.

For what seemed like an eternity, finding the ability to juggle a 9-5 whilst also home schooling a pre-schooler and a 7 year old was the reality in this household and just when home schooling came to an end, those dreaded summer holidays reared their ugly head.

This Inside CAH Blog takes the shape of a day in the life of my household, an insight into the goings on of our two daughters (3 and 7), my wife who has recently returned to her job in account management after a brief time on furlough and me, a member of CAH’s Leadership team.


7am: Wednesday’s are always the busiest day for me at CAH, traditionally admin day for advisers when working in the office but for those of us who work on projects it’s usually the day containing the most meetings, today I have two lined up. But first, Weetabix and yogurts for the kids!

8.50am: I am set up for the morning at the dinner table, my wife has a day off today which means her and the kids will be heading out later on this morning.

In the meantime, the soundtrack to my morning will consist of Christine Lampard, Eammon Holmes and my two daughters discussing which outfits they should put their dolls in today.

As well leading a project at CAH, I also manage our Social Media volunteer team. So today, I am drafting an outline for next week’s ‘spotlight week’. These are themed weeks where we target our content to highlight the work of one of our projects or services. Next week we will be focusing on our Universal Credit Help to Claim service, which as the furlough scheme draws to a close will become a vital service for many people up and down the country.

Our aim for next week is to not only inform people that we deliver this service but also to provide a stronger insight into the workings of Universal Credit as a whole.

10.50am: Every Wednesday since lockdown started, the leadership team which consists of all team leaders, project leads and the senior management team meet via Google Meets. Time to make a quick coffee before I head upstairs to a quieter spot for the meeting!

Doll outfit update: they went for the pink top and trousers, but Baby Annabelle (other doll brands are available) drank too much water and wet through her trousers so now it’s the grey pair…

11am: Technical issues means the meeting is pushed back 15 minutes, par for the course in this lock down era.

Today’s meeting is focusing on staff and volunteer wellbeing and every member of the Leadership team is able to feed back into the discussion from the catch ups they are regularly having with the staff they manage. What is clear is that whilst we are preparing to begin the phase reopening of our offices for staff, the lack of face to face contact with colleagues is one of the most pressing issues for many of our team.

12pm: Lunch break time, which for me today means driving my wife and kids to a friend’s house about 15 minutes away for a garden play date. A quick dash along the M25 and back, which thankfully is clear enough that I am able to have lunch before the next meeting starts.

1pm: Second meeting of the day today, this time it is as part of our internal Wellbeing Task Group which consists of staff from various parts of the organisation, senior management members and members of our board. This is our second meeting and we are now looking at the Action Plan that was drafted since we last met.

In a similar vein to the discussions in this morning’s Leadership Team meeting we are looking at what we already have in place for staff whilst remote working and what we can improve.

The discussions in this meeting have been really useful and each of us take away tasks to prepare in time for our next staff meeting which takes place next week.

2pm: I’ve just signed up to an e-learning course via Citizens Advice learning platform Docebo, this course focuses on Equality, Diversion and Inclusion. I am a big believer in continuous professional development and have found that lock down has provided a great opportunity to take part in online webinars and courses. I look forward to starting this one in the next few days.

2:30pm: Since lock down began we have launched a Workplace platform for staff to stay in the loop with everything going on at CAH. For those who haven’t used it, it’s basically Facebook that only exists within your organisation; everyone has a profile and can join groups and post etc. I am the lead admin for this so it is my responsibility to ensure that the platform is serving the right purpose and evolves with the needs of the staff.

As a result of the tasks issued by the Well being Task Group, I have now created an additional group which staff and volunteers can join. This group will be a place where people can share resources they find useful for maintaining their well being whilst working from home.

2:45pm: I have just received an email from a volunteer who is carrying out some internet based research work for me. He has begun sending me his findings and has asked for feedback on anything he can improve.

Our volunteers have been fantastic during this lock down period and their contribution regardless of role has been invaluable.

3:35pm: I have just realised that the washing that was hung up on the line in the garden has fallen victim to a gust of wind and has fallen into the empty paddling pool which was left lying around in the garden. Unfortunately for me, that empty pool still had a puddle of dirty water in one corner and said water has now been fully absorbed by a duvet cover. Looks like I’ve got another load of washing to do…

4pm: Time for me to shut down the laptop and go and collect my wife and kids, who I am reliably informed are hyped up on sugar and excitement from their day playing in a friend’s garden. Wish me luck!