Creating a work life balance
Alex Marshall discusses what it is like working in CIL’s Frome office and how he manages to keep the balance between his family life and his work.
What is it like working in CIL’s Frome office?
Frome, both the town and in the office, has a relaxing and friendly atmosphere. The town is quirky and different with plenty of independent shops and charming cobbled streets – it’s gorgeous!
The Frome office is unlike any other place I’ve worked during my career. It is very relaxed with plenty of laughter – often at my expense! I think it’s quite unique in that we are all genuinely close with one another and it has a good community feeling, which makes it a supportive environment. We also place an emphasis on family and ensure there are socials that are family-inclusive, which is great.
What opportunities does working in the countryside present?
Our Frome office gives CILers the ability to pursue a career in consulting within a high-performing team while enjoying a countryside lifestyle. It is rare to get the opportunity to work for a successful professional services firm outside of a large city; it offers a different way of life without compromising your career. That being said, plenty of CILers choose to live in Bath or Bristol which gives them the ability to have the best of both worlds.
You also cannot ignore the financial benefits of working outside of a city – it is common for CILers to buy a house in or around Frome at a relatively young age, which (sadly) can take a lot longer in somewhere like London.
How does CIL help you deal with stress in your work life?
CIL aims to provide all of our employees with a fulfilling, interesting and most of all sustainable career. Consulting can be challenging and anyone getting into the industry should be aware of that – but CIL has put a lot of processes in place to make sure our employees are happy, healthy (both physically and mentally) and given every opportunity to proactively manage stress.
Our main goal as a business is to do great client work, while ensuring that this is sustainable for our people. This means limiting the longer hours that are common in the consulting industry. The senior team monitors the workload every week and interferes when a project seems to be running hotter than it should! If someone has had a stretch of long hours, we ensure that any issues are addressed and that they receive some time off in lieu before they are resourced to a new project.
One of my favourite initiatives is the ability to buy an additional five days of holiday a year, something I have done every year since we introduced it and would highly encourage others to take advantage of. CILers can also take longer periods of unpaid leave and sabbaticals. I myself took advantage of this to relocate to Wiltshire and to spend time with my family.
If a CILer is having a challenging time, we have external resources we can draw upon such as workplace mental health support and access to coaching, or access to a therapist via our private health insurance. Of course, we try to manage the firm so this isn’t required, but we recognise that life and work can sometimes be challenging, and having the processes in place to support individuals when they need it is crucial. CIL has such brilliant people at all levels of the company and being able to support one another means that if there is a problem, then we can solve it together.
What is your advice on how to best maintain a good work-life balance?
My main piece of advice would be to maintain some distance between your personal life and work life. For me, this means not taking my work phone everywhere with me. When I am on holiday, I turn it off and even leave it in the hotel safe to give me a chance to disconnect and be with my family. Proactively managing how I use my devices to avoid being constantly switched on in ‘work mode’ is important to keep the balance healthy. I also schedule in important things like exercise and kids’ school commitments as if they are meetings, in order to make sure that they are prioritised, which is not always easy in this job.
Whilst my job is extremely important to both me and our clients, it is rare that I encounter a problem that has been as serious as it might seem to be in my own head. I have practised compartmentalising things in order to prevent pressing work issues from intruding on family time. It doesn’t always work perfectly, but the more I practise, the better I get at switching something off for a while before giving it my full attention. My final tip for maintaining a good balance is to not take yourself too seriously. Thankfully, the CIL team does make this easy by being always ready to crack a joke at my expense.
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