Franchisees share how they are adjusting to the new normal
As more of the UK turns to self-isolation and social distancing, balancing personal and professional lives with home-schooling and other duties, remaining positive through these trying times is paramount.
In this new series, we speak with franchisees and franchisors from across the UK to find out how they are coping with “the new normal”.
We speak with InXpress Birmingham South franchisee, Neil Hatt, about the adjustments he has made for working at home with a five-year-old.
“I’m lucky, my wife Phillipa is running the home school for our son, Cooper. He will be five in July, and he’s taking it all in his stride.
“That said, he’s a proper daddy’s boy (even dressing himself to match shirts with me today!) and some of the boundaries we’ve set haven’t sunk in yet.
“We have said that if the door to my study is closed, or if I’m on the phone then he mustn’t come into the room. Sometimes he remembers and knocks and waits, but most times he does not.
“On a fair few occasions, I’ve been on the phone for a while before noticing that Coop has snuck in. I’ve learnt that if I don’t make eye contact, he stays quiet. If I do look at him though, it’s game over for me and the best thing I can do is feign a bad line, hang up and call back once I’ve shooed Cooper out of the room.
“We’re trying to split up the days into chunks. When he has a home lesson with his mother, I work. When he has a break, I do too. Not always for as long, but enough to be able to spend time with him throughout the day and give Phillipa a break from teaching phonics or taking ninja chops to the head.
“Coop even gets to spend some time helping me. His work on Excel leaves much to be desired, but he’s a natural on the phone.
“I’m very lucky with my InXpress franchise. We are still able to meet customers’ shipping requirements, and I’ve been able to set up all my staff to work from home; so there has been no impact to our day-to-day operation or our services to customers. One thing that has helped massively with working from home is a greater use of email over the phone. Customers working remotely, or with a skeleton staff have naturally gravitated to emails and they are far easier to manage – priority is easier to apportion, which means I can also build in time throughout the day to entertain and read with Coop.
“The first few days were tough, as I worried about whether we could still provide the service our customers require whilst my team and I worked separately. Tempers were frayed and there were a few family time-outs. But in about a week we have gelled to our new routine.
“The thing that really helped was when I realised that it wasn’t just down to Phillipa and Cooper to change and accept what I needed to do for work. I also had to adapt and change my work to suit the new situation and appreciate their difficulties and needs within this new environment too.
“So, I’m back to working in the evening a fair bit, as I push non-essential and time-sensitive things to then. Which frees up time in the day to build Lego castles, be a ninja or kick a ball around the garden.
“After the first few days, I can honestly say that I’m loving the extra time I’m getting to spend with my family. It’s harder than just going to the office, and working evenings is a bit of a drag, but in the whole scheme of things, I’m a lucky man to be able to work safely at home, know that my team is safe at home too, and see my son learning and growing in a way that is normally lost to us.”