Why Being On Furlough Was Nothing Like Maternity Leave

Posted October 20 2020 By Gemma O'Brien
 MP_Gemma Mat Leave FurloughWhen I was first put on furlough, a friend of mine told me not to worry because it would be “just like being on maternity leave.” But I quickly realised that the comparison is non-existent. Maternity leave, for me, was the natural result of a choice I had made to become a mother. It was something that was planned out and – as any new parent can testify – my days were certainly full. Furlough, however, felt like much less of a choice and, although the HRC team handled it all extremely well, it was definitely something that was imposed on me. I am someone who likes to work. Like most people, my job is a big part of my identity and, finding it suddenly taken away from me with no say in the matter, felt nothing like the pleasantries of maternity leave. Whilst I was on maternity leave, I could happily check in with the team – via text and meeting up for lunches – and my clients and candidates. I never once felt “out of the loop”. However, with the strict furlough rules, I felt like I had no idea what was going on in my desk. Having spent years building up relationships both internally and externally, this felt like a big deal. I went from being at work, in the office, to suddenly being unable to respond to emails, calls, LinkedIn messages etc. It really did turn my world upside down overnight. Moreover, whilst I was on maternity leave, I could take Frankie to baby classes, meet up with other new mums and spend time surrounded by family and friends who were all eager to see my new daughter. This time around – with everything shut and a stay at home order in place – it all felt very isolating and scary. To add to that, I now had a toddler to keep occupied all day, every day – with no access to any of her usual clubs and classes. I suddenly found myself cast in the new role of educator, baker, crafter, artist and all-round entertainer. The novelty of not having to set the alarm and children’s TV shows very quickly wore off. MP_Gemma Mat Leave FurloughI found the lack of interaction with other people – whether it was colleagues or family – truly difficult. I had no idea how things were progressing at HRC and what kind of work was available. Was my team still busy? Would I have a job to go back to? Will things ever get back to normal? These were all thoughts that looped around my head on a daily basis. I found myself missing the morning rush of getting Frankie to nursery in order to get to my desk. Work is definitely my escape – as the parent of any toddler will agree! It’s the whole process of getting to be “Gemma” as opposed to being “mummy”. And I was missing that divide. Now, back at the (home) office a few days per week, I am slowly regaining that balance. Whilst the current circumstances certainly allude to another potential lockdown, I feel more prepared for what that might look like next time around. How have you found the furlough and working from home experience? Has it changed your career plans or recruitment intake within the Call Centre industry? Click here to see my details and get in touch.
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