Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown in March 2020, many people have been working differently to normal. Replacing face-to-face meetings, travelling, and office working are makeshift desks in living rooms, Zoom calls and a more virtual way of working. With the recent Government guidance advising office workers to work from home over the winter if they are able to, it looks as though for many of us, this will be the ‘new normal’ until at least Spring 2021.
We decided to speak to some of the staff at Dementia UK to find out more about their role, how they have adjusted to this new way of working over the past six months, and what they see the future of office working to be. We spoke to Emma Washington, Challenge Events Fundraising Assistant.
How long have you been working at Dementia UK?
Almost 1 year (November 2019 – present)
Why did you want to work for Dementia UK?
I joined Dementia UK straight out of university with a background in charity work on various summer programmes and as a community warden for my Guild of Students. I wanted to be part of an organisation which developed the skills I had gained from these experiences, in a professional working environment, which also supported my passion for excellent customer service, going above and beyond for people, as well as event planning. In addition to this, I had a personal attachment to helping families facing dementia.
What is a typical working day for you like?
My day to day role involves stewarding challenge event participants; welcoming them to the team, wishing them luck for their event, and thanking them for their fundraising for Dementia UK. I also help manage the fundraising phone line both at home and in the office, and whilst in the office send out materials to supporters. As a team we are constantly coming up with new, innovative ideas to improve the amount of supporters we have doing challenge events and stewarding them in the best way possible. Recently, I have returned from furlough to work in our supporter care team too. This role involves thanking our individual donors.
What is your favourite part about working for Dementia UK?
I have never felt so included and valued in any workplace as I do at Dementia UK. Everyone who works here is fun, fair and passionate about their work. In my team, we are open and honest about our workload and help each other where we can to ensure that our supporters always receive the best stewardship. I have always felt like my opinion is valued, from both my colleagues and managers.
Before coronavirus, how often were you working in the office?
Five days a week.
How are you working now?
I am currently working from home full-time.
What do you enjoy about working from home?
I really enjoy ending the day in the comfort of my own home: since it has given me the opportunity to spend more time with my family and to do more of the things I enjoy of an evening. Working from home has also given me some precious time to learn new skills, develop my knowledge and become a better version of myself. A key point is that I feel a lot more confident answering phone calls in a friendly, professional manner from home too.
How do you stay motivated while working from home?
Since lockdown began I became reliant on fitness to stay motivated when working from home. I wake up every morning to take my dog for a walk and often use some of my lunchtime to get moving. Since doing this I have managed to complete the London Marathon with members of my team. Having said this, it is important to mention that the support my team show for each other, both during work hours and socially via zoom meetings or taking on challenges together and especially during stressful times, has been an incredible way of staying motivated. Our team check in on each other every day and remind each other that we are doing a great job in our support of our wonderful fundraisers who’s dedication to families facing dementia, like ours, make all the effort we put in to our service worthwhile.
Do you live with anyone else and does this impact you working from home?
Yes, I live with my mother, father, brother (and dog!). It can make working from home difficult when they are all in the house due to background noise on the phone. However, they also work full-time and this is not a frequent occurrence.
What do you miss most about working in the office?
I miss seeing my team every day and splitting my day up so that I was not always looking at a screen (i.e. answering emails for part of the day and spending other parts sending out materials or having meetings in person).
How has your team worked together throughout the pandemic?
We work really well as a team and haven’t had to make too many adjustments, except when figuring out the best way to manage our fundraising phone line. We do not tend to see as much of the community assistants as we did in the office (who sat opposite the challenge assistants) which, from a personal point of view, has been a real shame. However, we have managed to create a stronger bond with the regional part of the community team, building stronger personal and working relationships which has been great.
Do you have any tips or funny stories about working from home?
When you fail to mention that the best part of working from home is spending some extra time with your four-legged friend, beware of their seemingly affectionate paw rest on your laptop. They just might be trying to delete your interview answers!
What do you see the future of office working being?
A combination of working in the office and from home to harness the advantages of both types of working environments, taking into consideration employees’ mental and physical well-being and what is best for delivering excellent supporter stewardship.
Events and Fundraising
Want to fundraise but not sure what you’d like to do? Check out our Events and Fundraising page for some inspiration!