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Workstyle Stories 005 - 'Laura'

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Welcome to Workstyle Stories because life changes and every life is different. This week, I'm joined by the lovely Laura. Hello Laura. Hello everybody. Hi. Thanks for joining me. So we are going to be talking about all things corporate. We're going to be talking about the split persona, having an authentic self, how that affects your work. And importantly, we're going to be talking about the benefits of being able to walk your dog. But before we get into all of that, Laura, I'm just going to ask you to start by telling us a little bit about who you are, where you live and what you do. Sure. So I'm Laura. I live in Taunton in Somerset with my lovely husband and my fantastic dog Gene. Make up your own mind as to who's the favourite in that situation. I work in a mainly finance area, a little bit personal tax stuff. And that's me. So you're a number cruncher, and yet you appear to have coloured hair, and is that a nose ring you've got as well? Yeah, I've got two of them at the moment as well, probably soon to be more at some point. So presumably that makes you quite unique in your field? I can't imagine that there are many what I would call creative accountancy type people. Is that fair to say? Yeah, I think that's reasonable. Or I would argue that perhaps there are people just like me who like numbers and also like being a bit wild and crazy - but perhaps they hide it. So let's talk about that then. So your experience of work, like corporate work - to what extent were you able to be who you are here, the person I'm talking to now? What was the vibe? I think the vibe in the corporate world is pretty much the same for everybody, which is that you have a work persona and then you have who you are outside of work. Somehow, in extreme cases, they become two completely different personalities, and I think that's really sad. Yeah. So give me an example then of - so this is you who I'm talking to. So in the corporate world, which you've left behind now, and we'll talk about that in a little while - what restrictions would you have felt? Were they actual restrictions that were put in place about how you could look and be, or were they just things that you felt like you, you had to do in order to conform? What was the sort of... how did that manifest? Yeah, definitely Al. I'd say a mix of the two. There was the written and shared dress code for work, but then there was kind of the unwritten dress code as well. And in actual fact, the first time I got my nose pierced, I went into work and somebody frowned at me and said, 'Who did you get permission from for that?'. Well as an adult, nobody! I can make my own decisions. So it's just bonkers. To me, in a lot of ways, it's just an extension of school, isn't it? You must conform and, you know, follow these rules. And it all suggests a lack of trust. When you actually boil it down, that's what it is; which is so sad. Yeah, don't get me started - we could be here all day talking about the lack of trust inherent in the old system. But also, I guess I can relate to this, and I think most people can, in terms of wearing a sort of work uniform. It's as much a physical thing. So, in the creative industry that I worked in before Hoxby, you know, everybody wore brown shoes, blue jeans and a shirt. It didn't matter which agency you worked in, or which company you worked for - everybody looked the same. And for the most part, everybody talked the same as well. It's about a sort of desire to fit in, an innate human desire to fit in, as much as a pressure to conform and to be accepted, and to have your opinion and your voice heard. But it's, it's not authentic is it? And you end up, as you rightly say, with the sort of work self and then a kind of - you breathe a sigh of relief when you get home and you can be your real self, and that's not great for mental health or wellbeing. So, is that your journey then? So Workstyle Stories focuses on the transitions that people make from the traditional corporate experiences to creating a workstyle of their own, and living life their own way. Was that one of the catalysts for you, for switching from traditional work into workstyle work? Yeah, absolutely. That, and also just the actual day-to-day physical commute that I was doing. Yeah. Okay. I was actually commuting 430 miles a week. A large portion of that was on the A303. So, bank holiday weekends. Is that a bad road? Yeah - it's a bit iffy. You know, school holidays, Fridays, all of that kind of stuff - and it just really wore me down. Yeah. Okay. So, you've got a terrible commute, you've got this split persona feeling going on, and you can't necessarily be your true self. So, what have you changed? What do you do differently now to how you operated then, in order to fix those issues? Well, I have the absolute beauty of a commute that is the length of my staircase. You know, just being able to be in your own home and enjoy your home. That means a huge amount to me, and as you alluded to earlier, that means that I get to spend so much more time with my dog, which is something that I always wanted. I actually remember going into work once in the traditional corporate environment and saying, 'I was wondering if my dog could become an office dog and come into the into the office with me?'. Brilliant. Oh my word. It was a 'no' was it? Yeah, it was just, you know - they thought I was insane. You know, 'Why would I suggest that? And if we said yes to you, then we might have to say yes to other people'. Oh, yes, sets the precedent. How awesome would that be? More than one dog in the office! They could all have a great time, we could work. So you work from home, you've got time to spend with Gene, walking him around, and you're still doing finance work, right? Yeah. Yeah - absolutely. And how's that? Is that any different? Yeah, because I feel that I have a dramatically better relationship with all of the clients that I have. Because I ask them about their families. Because we have casual chat about what we've been doing at the weekend, and I consider all of my clients, that I have much more than just a working relationship with them. You know, which again, it was something that was just a bit frowned upon - why would you take the time to put personal stuff into emails? They don't want to know about that. Well, I've not found that to be the case. Yeah, you're breaking down this persona divide, being your authentic self and building better relationships with the people you work with. And the people who sleep on your sofa or some sort of bed - that they have luxuriously made for them. That they buy. Laura, thanks very much. You are setting an example for everyone in the financial and corporate world to follow. Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us and enjoy the rest of your day. Bit of dog walking next is it? Definitely, always! Number one on the agenda everyday. Good stuff. Well enjoy, and we'll see you soon. Thanks for tuning in. Bye bye. Bye!

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Posted by: _kim_nguyen on Sep 21, 2020

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