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Edward Manson Meet MERJE

My day starts early because I have three young daughters who like to keep me on my toes! I get my exercise out of the way first thing by doing a home workout in my front room, which has become my temporary gym. I like to mix things up, which is why I also go on an early morning five plus miles walk when it’s still quiet outside. This helps me clear my head and prepare for the day ahead. I’m conscious during this time that a healthy body equals a healthy mind, and whatever else they say when it comes to wellness!

Afterwards, I prepare breakfast for me and the girls, who are aged 12, 10 and six. This means that my wife is able to get herself ready for a hectic day of being both a housewife and head teacher, which are by no means easy tasks to carry out in tandem!

I then make sure the kids are all set up for their homeschooling and that they know what they need to be doing. After that I walk to work, which is a very convenient eight-minute stroll. I am in the fortunate position of having been able to build an office which is a stone’s throw from my house and with everyone working from home it allows me to come and crack on in peace and quiet. However, being the only one in the office does feel strange compared to the usual hustle and bustle.

I arrive at the office just as I used to but naturally my working day is now extremely different to what it normally is. What is encouraging is that I am thankfully still recruiting for some of my clients and there are enough pockets of activity to help me maintain focus and overall productivity. That said, as opposed to juggling anywhere between 15 to 20 assignments, I am dealing with a much smaller volume as the majority of roles have been placed on hold.

The rest of my morning is spent responding to emails and following up on interesting CVs. I am also conscious about making sure that the office and wider business are still being well managed so that they continue to run smoothly. I make sure that I have daily and weekly check-ins with my colleagues via apps such as Facetime, WhatsApp or Houseparty. Our people are our business and I believe that maintaining as much contact as possible with them is vital for ensuring that they do not feel isolated or excluded from the business. We also made it our priority to provide our staff with all of the tools, software and training they need to successfully work from home. 

We also provide regular incentives to keep up morale where the winner gets the chance to spin our Wheel of Fortune to win prizes, which include vouchers, gift cards and a number of other creative gifts. Examples of our weekly competitions include best home exercise selfie, best lunch selfie and artwork competitions for our staff and their families. We recognise that this is a challenging and stressful time for our employees, so it’s all about striking a balance. If we can help by adding in a bit of fun for them and their families each week and keep spirits high across the business then this for us is a great result.

Above all though, I am working harder than ever to try and find whatever opportunities may be out there for either myself or others in the team and I am doing my best to chase up every lead I possibly can. It is a bit like when I started out in recruitment all the way back in 1998 and, rather surprisingly, I am really enjoying it. Finding the pleasure in the small wins, be it pulling in a new role, interview requests or securing an offer certainly feels that bit more rewarding during this unprecedented time.   

As well as trying to nail the day job, I also have to find the time to print off the mounds of work that keep winging their way to me via Google Classroom. This is all to ensure that I can deliver it to the kids to complete at home in time for the assigned deadline.

In addition to this, I find myself desperately surfing Amazon for all manner of gadgets and games to keep the kids amused and the family entertained in whichever way possible. Recent finds of note include chalk markers, a netball net, a rebounder net, stickers, arts and crafts, an indoor hover ball, board games and jigsaws to name a few! Let’s just say my Amazon Prime account has never come in so useful and has never been as hammered.

I am fortunate that I can walk home for lunch every day and spend this time with the family which is an added bonus, although not for my good lady who has enough to do without now having to make lunch for me as well as the kids. However, it does offer a good opportunity to see how the kids have got on with their schoolwork and to get them set up for the afternoon session.

I then go back to work and continue with the tasks I started in the morning. I am making a conscious effort to reach out and speak to as many of my clients and candidates as I possibly can to get a better feel for how they are finding things under these difficult circumstances. My aim is to reassure them that we are here to help in whatever capacity we can. 

Interestingly, it is much easier to get hold of senior people who are normally too busy to speak or are forever travelling for work, which ordinarily makes it difficult to pin them down. Knowing most people are working from home means that they are more accessible than they have ever been.

Wherever possible, I am trying to get home at a more reasonable time so I can help take the strain off the wife and spend some more quality time with the kids. Fortunately, the weather has been incredible so it has been nice to enjoy the lighter evenings taking the kids out on their bikes or simply playing in the garden. I’ve even turned my hand to more DIY around the house, which for those who know me well, will appreciate is something that does not come naturally to me.

Overall, I think that we should all try to make the best of this difficult situation, knowing that normality will one day return and the rat race will start all over again. When it does, I will probably look back and appreciate being given the chance to slow down and reflect on what’s important in life. This situation has afforded me far more quality time with the family than I have ever had or likely will have again in the near future. I think it’s fair to say that, ironically enough, I will probably come to miss this strange and unsettling time we have all been through…