Things are just a little busy in Mark Briggs’ house right now.
As well as managing Cadent's annual West Midlands investment programme of more than £100million, he’s doubling-up as a home-schooling assistant and trebling up by looking after a litter of 11 labrador puppies.
Come on Mark, stop showing off!
But, in all seriousness, the purpose of telling you this is because Mark is the first to admit that life’s thrown up a series of unimaginable challenges at the moment – and, if sharing his story can help others in a similar boat right now, then great.
We’ve been sharing the personal experiences of our amazing employees who are somehow finding time to help us deliver a critical service in managing a safe gas network stretching to 82,000 miles, as well as juggling lockdown home priorities.
Our CEO Steve Fraser wrote to all employees this month to explain he fully understood the difficulties our team is facing. He stressed that we must all look after ourselves and each other, making it crystal clear that there is permission to work flexibly, “without expectation of time returned or time owed.”
Mark is the head of our West Midlands’ network Investment Planning Office. He’s married with two children, Will (13) and Holly (11).
“My first thoughts when the latest lockdown was announced was ‘nightmare!’
“My wife is also a critical worker, so is in work every day as normal.
“There is no substitute to the routine of normal school life.
“I was concerned as to how was I going to juggle this around my already busy days and where were we all going to sit.
“I was really anxious when I was getting interrupted by the children when on Teams meetings but there are so many people in the same position that you realise we are all the same, and all understand the pressures we are all facing.
“Their school is absolutely fantastic; we have nothing but praise for all of the staff.
“The children follow their usual timetable from 8.30am-3.45pm each day, doing mainly live lessons through Teams with their teachers. In addition to this, each morning, lunchtime and after school they can participate, and are encouraged to join in co-curricular sessions such as HIIT classes, rugby masterclasses, hockey skills and strength and conditioning sessions.
“My daughter also continues to have her flute lesson via Zoom each week.
“If needed the teachers are offering one-to-one sessions online. Their house staff contact the children daily and contact us as parents on a weekly basis for a catch up.
“For me, finding the time to answer and support the children when they do have questions can be tricky, but we’ve got ourselves into a good routine.
“I haven’t needed to make use of the flexible working, but I am comforted to know I have the full backing of the company and colleagues as needed.”
And what is he most grateful for right now? “My family’s health.”
He added: “I’ve also learnt that you can never have enough food in the house! And we have also just had a litter of 11 labrador puppies; lockdown is a good time to have them to keep us busy!”