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During lockdown working parents have been caught between trying to juggle work and looking after their brood, often from the confines of their kitchen table. At TIMESTWO our financial controller Amie Gara, mum of a lively toddler, explains how it has affected her, and why she has entered back into the office with open arms.

Tell us a bit about your career so far? After years of working in retail, I had a change of career at the age of 25. I went back to college and started my AAT qualifications. I worked for a small consumer product company in a finance role, which was busy and gave me a great grounding – as well as confirming this was what I wanted to do. I then started an accounts assistant role within recruitment business Sanderson where I eventually became Head of Payroll and Financial Controller, before moving to TIMESTWO in 2019 as Group Financial Controller.

We’re back in the office and the beginning of lockdown now feels like some time ago. What do you think the main impact has been on the recruitment industry? The impact cannot be underestimated, but I believe we’re seeing shoots of recovery and new working strategies and technology are driving this. Diversification is also a big factor, for example, some companies are putting teams together to work on Covid-19 projects and others are moving into areas they had not previously worked in to support the changes produced by the pandemic.

How did you find working from home? I think the same as everyone – it has been a rollercoaster. My partner mostly worked full time too and so my main productive work was often in the evening when I could concentrate without disruption. Thankfully, I had a very supportive work team around me if I ever needed to vent and keep a little bit of sanity. The novelty of working from home seriously wore off for all of us and I would be happy if I never did another Zoom call in my life.

So how did you feel when you heard that TIMESTWO was opening up the office? For all the reasons above I was very excited when we made the decision to open. We were ahead of the curve of getting into the office because we have a lot of space so social distancing has been straightforward. It was actually a colleague and I who were given the return to work project to manage, so I felt very comfortable when we did come back as I knew we’d done everything the right way.

How has this changed your daily life? Being in the office breaks up my working week and having my son at nursery means I have freedom to also work from home without fear of interruption. At the moment we’re in between two-three days a week and it really does beat sitting at your dining room table. It’s amazing how the energy of having your work tribe around you makes you feel so much more creative and productive – I am loving it.

How do you feel about the future? I feel very lucky as so many people are struggling. The future is also certainly bright at TIMESTWO. We have fantastic leaders in Mike Beesley and Keith Dawe, people I’ve worked with for a long time, and the wider team is passionate and committed to building back better. One of our recent investments Surya has brought energy into our workplace through Alka Graham who is a ball of sunshine. It’s great to work with people who really care about what they do.

What are the top three tips you’d give to working parents right now? I feel like I’ve gone through every emotion imaginable during lockdown, feeling like the worst mum in the world, laden with guilt and frustration and unable to concentrate on either work or home – total nightmare! Now, coming into work I feel like Wonder Woman having survived it all and have a huge amount of respect for everyone who has gone through this. My top three tips are:

  • Remember you are human and can’t do everything no matter how organised you are
  • Disney+ and snacks are your best friends
  • Get into nature. I’m so grateful for my dog Marley – walking him in the parks has helped keep me sane (ish).