Routine and exercise are important when working from home, says Michelle Taylor, senior account manager at Recognition PR

by Liz Benson

Age: 38
Number of kids: 1
Age of kids: 10

What’s important to you in a role?

The ability to make an impact and achieve results. Also, flexibility and the opportunity to be self-sufficient. I value mutual trust and respect as well as the knowledge that no matter what the team has my back.

Can you describe what’s involved in doing your job on a day-to-day basis? 

My job involves providing strategic direction on client accounts, guiding the team in executing campaigns and producing results. In this pandemic world we now live in it also involves a lot of video calls!

Did you have any personal concerns or worries in relation to family or out-of-work commitments when you started combining working and parenting?

When I fell pregnant, I was already working from home, so I guess I was quite lucky in that respect. It was a bit daunting back then wondering how I would deal with a screaming baby while being on work calls and to know how much I would be able to squeeze in while she was sleeping! When I first came back, I did so in a limited capacity, so I was fortunate in being able to do that. I just did a couple of hours during the day when it suited and then worked my way back up to full time.

What are your work commitments?

Technically, I work 8:30am to 5pm; however, the world of PR and marketing is never is quite 9-5. Daylight savings adds some extra complexity in that some of the team are in NSW and some in QLD. We also have global clients that require calls at different times. In that respect though, I can, if needed, do some work in the evening, and still be afforded the opportunity to do school runs and things like that. So, it’s the best of both worlds.

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced finding a balance between work and parenting commitments?

Mostly it’s fine but there are the days when everything seems to land at once and it might be an extremely long day to fit everything in. That’s the exception though, not the rule. Travel can be difficult as there is always the guilt factor in needing to be away or putting yourself through extra-long days to make it home quicker. The last couple of years I have only travelled when my daughter is not with me so that makes it easier. COVID-19 has changed all that at this point though. We will see what the future holds in that respect.

How long did you take maternity leave/time out of your career with your daughter?

I took around six months and then started back just a couple of hours a day to help with some tasks on accounts. I was lucky enough to already be set up to work from home so this could easily be fit in around feeding and sleeping! By about the nine-month mark I was close to working full time hours; however, there was flexibility in when these hours were done so I was lucky. At the 12-month mark, it was time for some extra space for me to think and some social interaction for my daughter, so she started in daycare two days a week. This gradually increased over the years as she got closer to school age.

What advice would you give someone returning to their career after having kids?

Do what you actually feel capable of doing. Doing too much will only serve to wear you down in all aspects. You want to make sure you can give the best of yourself in all respects so don’t push yourself too hard and don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s a huge adjustment; however, you just need to figure out a new way of being that works for you. This might take some time but you’ll get there.

Do you find time for yourself? And if so, how and what do you use it for?

Exercise has become very important to me so I make sure I have time for a workout everyday whether it be at the gym, playing tennis or boxing at home.

How has COVID-19 impacted your work environment?

COVID-19 has seen me return to work from home, which is what I was doing for around nine years before we opened an office in Brisbane. That made it a very easy transition although you do occasionally miss the social interaction in the office.

What are you reading right now and what do you recommend?

I’ve just finished reading The Day the Lies Began by Kylie Kaden. Seven Types of Ambiguity by Elliot Perlman is one of my all-time favourites. Also, can’t go past a bit of Bret Easton Ellis or Liane Moriarty (if it’s easier you can just watch these now although the books are better). On my wish list is David Attenborough’s A Life on Our Planet.

What advice do you have for others adjusting to this new style of working?

Again, it’s about finding a routine that works for you and sticking to it. Try and have some definition between home and work to make sure the two don’t completely blur. Make time for yourself and the other things in life that you enjoy whatever they may be. Take comfort in the extra time you can spend at home with your family.