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Highland Life

In our final blog of the series about the new hybrid working arrangements at SIS, our Communications Manager, Nicola Boyle, reflects on joining the SIS team virtually, and her new life working remotely from the beautiful Scottish Highlands.

“Joining a new organisation during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic was a unique experience. On my first day at SIS, I joined the team remotely from my kitchen table, nervously opening my laptop and logging in to the weekly coffee morning. However, I quickly felt part of the SIS team despite never meeting anyone, including during the recruitment process.

As the pandemic evolved and the national lockdowns eased, my own personal circumstances changed too. My fiancé took on a new role, which meant a relocation from Edinburgh to the Scottish Highlands. Naturally, I was slightly nervous about what this may mean for my position at SIS, as our head office is in Edinburgh.  However, the senior leadership did not hesitate to say that they would support me in my choice and were happy for me to continue to work remotely.

As SIS has rolled out an official hybrid working policy across the team, I have continued to work from my new home office in the Highlands. Our Operations team have provided me with all the equipment I need, such as an extra screen and noise-cancelling headphones, to ensure that I am as comfortable as I would be in the office.

Hybrid working, combined with SIS’s flexible working policy, means I have a much better work/life balance than I did pre-pandemic, in roles where I had to be physically present in the office five days a week. I can now enjoy the perks of hybrid and flexible working, such as longer forest walks with my dog at lunchtime. This flexibility helps to break up my day and is something I am especially grateful for during the winter months. At SIS, time spent outside during the daylight hours is encouraged for wellbeing and is embraced by everyone, including the senior leadership.

Whilst I enjoy working in the comfort of my home office, SIS have also supported my request to work from a co-working space in Inverness a couple of afternoons every week. This option gives me a refreshing change of scene and a chance to meet and network with fellow professionals in the area, many of whom work for other local and national charities and social enterprises.

Hybrid working means that I still travel to the SIS office every month to meet my team in person. Rather than carrying out AOB work, this face-to-face time is an opportunity for strategic planning and holding 1-2-1s with colleagues. In addition, SIS bring the wider team together through ‘Moments that Matter’ that often combine a formal meeting with informal activities. These touchpoints are valuable occasions to catch up with team members across the organisation and help boost relationships that have developed online.

Formal and informal meetings with SIS colleagues via Zoom and Microsoft Teams allow us to communicate and stay connected easily. SIS also have weekly team-wide meetings through online coffee mornings and causal ‘Thirsty Thursday’ get-togethers, providing opportunities to check in with each other and talk outside of our to-do lists.

Despite my relocation and working remotely, I still feel like a valued member of the SIS team, and I am very grateful for the flexibility that SIS has given me through our hybrid working policy.”