See how our Chief Operations Officer Vicky Critchley manages her work-life balance.
Daisy Chain is an online platform for parents where they can match + connect with flexible employers to enhance their careers and work-life balance.
As part of their Inspirational People features, they recently interviewed our Chief Operating Officer Vicky Critchley about how she manages her work-life balance, family and disconnecting from work with her husband also being the CEO of CPIT.
At CPIT, we lead the way in flexible working. With our WFAAF policy (work from anywhere, anytime, forever), we allow our team the flexibility to fit their work around their life, as we understand everyone has different needs and balances they need to manage to do the best job they can. This is just one of the great aspects of our culture here at CPIT that has kept us in the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies to Work For list for 6 years in a row.
How do you balance work and family life?
I am in business with my husband, we run our international IT business together so there isn’t much “balance”, work and home life are very much intertwined together. This works for us as a couple and a family, we are business owners so we choose not to work a regular 9-5, we are always “on” and always “off” so this gives me lots of flexibility to be a mum and also run the business.
What are the pressures associated with this?
Pressures are definitely around time to decompress, life is very busy, often working until late as having a US business means working US hours. Family pressures are a significant part in that sometimes I’m not free to do what other mums typically do, my daughter is 16 now but when she was growing up I was always the last mum to pick her up from school or the one that forgot the world book day! Thank goodness for Amazon!
Do you think there is any progression in working parents or do we have some way to go?
That answer depends on the business, CPIT actively promotes flexible working from anywhere. We encourage part time flexible hours. If a business owner (there are lots of them) monitors employee engagement by them starting early, sat at their desk all day and leaving late then things will be much tougher for working parents. We give people unlimited holiday, work from anywhere at anytime and focus on the outcomes of their roles not the time they spend at their desk. Our mission is to serve our customers, this is achieved by having a fully empowered team that can run their lives as well as be successful at their role.
How do I manage “mummy guilt”?
Mummy guilt has plagued me for years and years especially when my daughter was little. My advice to other mums with small children in my team is to make your peace with it. No matter what you do, you are not super woman and can’t do everything – sometimes work suffers, sometimes your family doesn’t get what they need but beating yourself up about it won’t achieve anything. Doing what you feel is the right thing to do at that time is literally the only thing you can do.
If I could go back 15 years and give myself some advice would be to stop criticising myself and to stop chasing perfection as it doesn’t exist – its something I made up in my mind that was constantly out of reach.
I asked my daughter if she would change our past and have me stay at home, she said absolutely not and she thinks I am “super woman” so I must have done something right, just wish I had given myself credit for this a long time ago.
Have I had a good experience of flexible working?
I have been very fortunate to have flexible work hours and work for a company who understands that you have commitments outside the workplace. I have also been in roles where this isn’t the case and its difficult so I hope all the working parents in my business know that I have their back for sure.
What roadblocks do you feel working mothers face?
Let’s be honest, we don’t live in a perfect world, far from it. There are lots of roadblocks. Finding roles that are part time is tough, employers seem to think that you can’t squeeze in enough work into reduced hours working week but let me tell you if you are talented, you can usually do things twice as fast as the next person. Being a young mum in a business is a problem too, having time off on maternity leave is not ideal for some “traditional” employers but 9 months goes by quickly and you are back in the business before you know it.
Most of all CONFIDENCE is the main blocker and this isn’t down to the employer, its down to the individual. Working mums lose their mojo (me included) you feel that you can only give work 50% and home 50% and neither is good enough. So when opportunities to learn more or go for that promotion, confidence holds them back – can’t do it, not enough time, I’m not as good as the other guy…
If you believe in yourself, know that you are amazing then all of the above roadblocks disappear.
How do I juggle my time, what’s my typical week?
I don’t really have one, I go with the flow. I do make sure that exercise is part of my daily activity – it keeps me sane.
What needs to be done to showcase equality in the workplace?
I don’t think men do have the upper hand any longer, women excel at their work, some of my most talented team members are women but equally some are men. It’s about the individual not their gender/race/religion/sexual preference – just down to pure talent.
Gender only comes into it, if you let it, as stated above that’s down to CONFIDENCE and BELIEF in yourself rather than any inequality in the workplace.
Who do you admire that has the balance right?
I admire my team, they juggle family life and being super heroes for our clients every single day. Nothing phases them, they are rock stars and I have nothing but admiration for them all.