In the latest from our remote notes series we catch-up with Yvonne McBrearty to hear about how she’s adapted to remote working and how the Nexus marketing and events team have embraced all things virtual.
Yvonne is Head of Marketing (Business to Business) at the University of Leeds with responsibility for Nexus marketing including communications with members, stakeholders and colleagues.
She has a team of 4 people across marketing and events. Since the start of physical distancing in March, Yvonne has been remote working while sharing the care and home schooling of her two daughters, eleven year-old Elena and Eve, who’s nine, with her husband.
How has your role changed with remote working?
Overall, the activity we had in plan has continued, however the team have had to adapt in order to respond accordingly to the pandemic. We’ve obviously had to be very reactive and we’ve adapted our communications plans to include COVID-19 comms designed to keep members informed about practical matters, but most importantly to do everything we can to maintain the sense of community and collaboration that’s so valuable for Nexus members. The COVID hub has proved a useful tool, being the second most visited area of our site (after the homepage) throughout April and May and achieving a well above average session time.
We’ve also had to bring our events programme online. Nexus hosted 112 events in 2019 (May-Dec) and our events programme is such an important part of the Nexus proposition and the University’s wider business engagement plan, so it’s been a challenge to still offer events virtually but we’ve been working hard to schedule sessions that will help people during this time. For example, we ran an event in the first few weeks of lockdown with Nexus member Tougher Minds, to help people stay focused whilst working from home.
What’s the best thing about working from home? And what do you find the hardest?
The best thing about working from home is undoubtedly the time I have gained at either end of the day. It’s not just the time I would have spent commuting, but also the school run, ferrying kids to clubs and generally rushing from pillar to post – all that adds up to extra hours we’ve been able to spend together as a family, without commitments. It has made me re-evaluate the benefits of not over-filling every moment.
I think everyone has found lockdown hard – personally, I have struggled to balance a normal working routine with home schooling. My youngest daughter has special educational needs and would normally have 121 support at school but it’s been difficult to achieve this in a home environment. I’ve also missed the sense of achievement I get from collaborating and interacting with colleagues and members. It’s harder to sustain this whilst working remotely and I miss how rewarding it is to work closely to find a solution quickly. We’re finding ways to work around this, but it’s a learning curve.
What are you doing to help yourself stay positive and cope with the new normal?
Exercise has always been an important way for me to look after my wellbeing, so I’ve been able to use that throughout lockdown. I have stayed connected with friends and it’s been really positive to connect with people in my local community much more as a result of our new circumstances. I’ve been volunteering and helping where I can and I’ve found that really rewarding. I really hope some of these small changes will influence how we live and work as communities in future.
As always, we love to hear from all of our Community, get in touch if you’d like to share your story with us.
Find out the latest information to help guide you through the advice and support schemes available in response to COVID-19 on our hub.