Parent organisation of Community Links, Foundation and Bridging the Gap

Work Life Balance Week with Ruth Kettle, Chief Executive

Work Life Balance Week

It’s Work Life Balance Week this Week, so we caught up with our Ruth Kettle, Chief Executive of Inspire North who talked about how she juggles everything and how for her, balance is about the totality of life and finding what works for everyone individually.

Ruth Kettle, Chief Executive of Inspire North:

“Before I became a CEO, I was working a four day week (34 hours). My kids were young (three and eight), and I wanted to be around for them in the morning when they woke and, in the evening, so I could eat with them and spend time together. I saw my predecessor work 11-hour days coming in at 6am. I knew that wasn’t for me (I cannot get up in time to get to the office for 6am!!) so I had to find my own way to manage the workload and time spent in the office. Luckily with all the family friendly policies we have including flexitime, parental leave, flexible working and now hybrid working, I have more or less found a way that works for me.

With the changes we had to make to get through the pandemic this has given us all permission to be more flexible and creative in how and where we work (though I prefer real life to teams any day of the week) with a hybrid working policy added to our portfolio.

Things change, life changes and for me, work life balance isn’t about spending more or less hours at work or at home, it’s about quality of time, flexibility and balance, a balance in life in its totality, not just between work and home but work, home and self.

Being a single parent, having two children with special educational needs (SEN) and with them both changing schools this autumn to go to high school and college, this year has again been a period of change and it’s been more than a little hectic. I have had to sort out funding (not my job but had to be done), push for meetings and transition plans and be in almost daily contact with both schools to keep us all on track. In all of this I knew I needed to think about re-balancing life to ensure that I could create space, space for me, for my kids and for work, not to mention the dog and cat and any relatives that may want to get a look in on my time!

So, I made the decision to put in a flexible work application, on a pilot basis for three months, to see if I can still get all my work-work done on a nine-day fortnight. (I hear Helen, who manages my diary, gasp as she tries to cram in yet more things in less time!!).

I hope this will give some balance to me as a person, to enable me to do all the life admin that comes with having two kids with SEN and keep me clear headed and focussed on work for Inspire North and all our wonderful colleagues, not to mention my swim, run,  bike activities!

I think it is also important that I live our values, one of which is valuing people. I say all the time that I want Inspire North employees to look after themselves, and I really mean that. It’s an active process and requires attention but it is one we can support with by having conversations about what is possible.”