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Rachael Wenham, Key Account Manager, talks about her job at Workingmums.co.uk, what motivated her to apply and how she works remotely and part time.
Workingmums.co.uk was set up in 2006 by Gillian Nissim to act as a bridge between professionals looking for flexible new jobs and employers looking to attract an experienced, talented pool of candidates. Since then it has grown to be the number one jobs and community site for professional working mothers. It has over 320,000 registered users and works with thousands of employers. It also now offers advice, support and inspiration to those looking to set up their own businesses and franchises. Workingmums.co.uk is a fully flexible employer. It operates as a virtual business so everyone in it works remotely and with various degrees of other flexibility. We wanted to give you an inside view of how it works and who the people are behind the website. This week we have Key Account Manager Rachael Wenham.
What do you do at Workingmums?
I look after the Franchise Zone which was introduced following the success of certain franchises advertising on our jobs pages and has been really popular ever since. I also am Key Account Manager for other clients.
What's the best thing about your job?
I feel very passionately about what Workingmums.co.uk stands for and what we are trying to do. I love the fact that I can work from home, although it is challenging, and that I can use my brain which is what caught my interest in the first place. We are a small team and things change all the time so it is never dull. Things don’t stand still. Also, before I worked for large companies and what is nice with small companies is that your voice is heard. There is no big chain of command.
How long have you worked there?
I have worked at Workingmums.co.uk since 2007.
What motivated you to apply to Workingmums?
When I had my first child, Harry, I was the only one in the office who had children and I remember lying that I was ill when he was sick because it was likely to be frowned upon less. I couldn’t talk about him at work. It was considered like a disability. I remember when I was on maternity leave with my daughter feeling quite desperate about what I could do afterwards as we had just moved. Doing a long commute and fitting that with the school run and looking after a small baby was too much. I remember typing homeworking into Google never thinking I would find anything with the skills I had and up popped Workingmums.co.uk. The job description was perfect. I thought ‘this is my job’. It utilised my skill set and working from home was perfect. It seemed like a perfect match and too good an opportunity to pass up. I didn’t have a clue that there were jobs like that out there, but now I don’t know what I would do without it.
What did you do before?
I worked in recruitment for six years and before that I was a manager in a call centre. Recruitment is a long hours industry. When I first started part-time work was unheard of. I applied twice to go part time after my son was born and was rejected both times. It was only when I handed my notice in that they said yes. I then worked for the same company on a part-time basis when we moved to Sussex. Indeed one of the reasons for moving was so I could work part time as the cost of living was cheaper and I was planning to have another child.
Workingmums is a virtual business. What’s the best thing about homeworking? And the worst?
The best thing about homeworking is that it doesn’t matter if you have a bad hair day. We have a strong team and we all get on well. There is support and we can focus on what we are doing and it is all guilt free because I can work around the kids, for instance, if they are sick.
The worst thing is lack of technical support. I’ve had to ask a neighbour’s son. Also being cold in winter. I feel too guilty to put the heating on just for me.
What are your top tips for homeworkers?
I look on the school run as my commute to work. I do not feel like I am going home afterwards. I go straight into work mode. Setting a routine is vital. I like to at least start the day in a certain way and go through outstanding issues from the day before then focus on new business and catch up with existing clients in the afternoon so my advice is to have a plan, even if you have to deviate from it and to make sure you are in a work frame of mind and are not distracted. Also, when you are finished work make sure you turn everything off and stop working.
Where's your desk?
My desk is in my office downstairs. I do not go in there after I have picked up the kids from school so it is quite easy for me to demarcate work and family life.
What does it look like?
It has a big desk which I try to keep tidy. At the moment there is a big box of loom bands on it as well as work I need to go through. I have a laptop and printer on the desk and I am facing a window which looks out on the street. I think my neighbours think I just sit on my laptop all day and that I must be slightly mad.
How do you stay in touch with colleagues?
I use instant messenger, phone and email. It’s important to share things with colleagues, for instance, if something has gone really well. It stops you feeling isolated and makes you feel part of a team.
Do you take a lunch break?
I work part time so I tend to finish at 2 or 3pm. I will sometimes therefore eat lunch at my desk.
How often do you see your colleagues?
I see them around once a quarter and it is good to meet up, though it can be a military operation to do so as I live in Eastbourne and am a single mum!
How do you avoid isolation?
Because I work in a sales role, I am often talking to clients so I don’t feel isolated. My job is communicating with people. Plus I see people at the school gate and have the time now to interact with them a bit more.
What’s your daily routine?
My alarm goes off at 6.15am and I hit snooze five times then panic. I then turn into a sergeant major. I have to drop my son at the train station at 7.45am then I walk my daughter to school. I work till 2 or 3pm then pick Lily up and walk back from school. I then pick up my son and we’re back by 4.30pm for dinner and homework.
What are your hobbies [if you have time]?
I love inline skating with the kids. I’m supposed to go to the gym and I find really good reasons not to. I have a dog so I take it for walks. Mostly I’m running around picking people up from after school clubs and the like, being a taxi.
How do you balance work and family life?
I switch off totally when the kids are back from school. If something is urgent I can do it when they are in bed. Generally when the kids are around I do not have to think too much about work. It’s a good balance.
Can you imagine doing an office job in the future?
I think it would be very difficult to go back to that way of working, but when I started working from home I found it very difficult to switch off. In this job there are always people I could contact so it is never finished. I have learned to switch off though which shows you can adapt to anything. I like working from home now, but I realise it’s not for everyone.