A day in the life of...


Katherine Easter

 

Chief People Officer,
Pension Protection Fund


During the pandemic year, the daily work routine hasn’t changed all that much for Katherine Easter, Chief People Officer at Pension Protection Fund (PPF). Except, of course, for the uptick in video calls and juggling the challenges of work and homeschooling. Below, Katherine gives us an insight into what one of her typical working days looks like, which can consist of anything from virtual Town Hall meetings, talking through performance of the previous year, or utilising colleague catch ups to ‘walk and talk’...

 

I still find it hard to believe we’ve been living and working differently for well over a year now. My daily work routine actually hasn’t changed that much since the pandemic began, except perhaps the obvious that I now have more video calls than before, and the less obvious, I can get up an hour later! We’re still working from home until September, when we hope to begin to trial our new hybrid ways of working, as long as it’s safe to do so. I’m really looking forward to seeing more of my colleagues in person.

 

Morning


In the mornings, I do what all the advice says you shouldn’t and start the day by looking at both my work and personal phones. I check our press cuttings and Twitter first, as I lead both the People and Communications functions at the PPF. These help me get on the front foot and know if there’s anything to focus on before the day starts. During the pandemic in particular getting an early notification of any changes to Government advice and reading the latest thinking on relevant people issues has helped give me confidence that we’re doing the right things to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our employees.

Once I’m caught up I then switch focus to my children to ensure they have everything they need for school before they leave the house. Some days I’m able to take my son to school and treat myself to a latte on the way home. I, like so many other parents across the country, had to juggle the challenges of work and home-schooling and am so grateful for the work that teachers do. I think we’re all feeling ready for the summer holidays!

 

Working from home isn’t new to me but it has been for many of our people and I’ve noticed the change. Previously my days spent working at home were a chance to catch up on my reading, get some much-needed thinking time and focus on written work. Now it’s non-stop meetings all week – a mix of phone calls and video meetings. Thankfully we already had the technology in place to allow us to transition to home working quickly and seamlessly. Nonetheless at the start video call fatigue was a definite challenge for everyone, though we’ve adapted now and learned to embrace the tools. Even when I’m not chairing meetings I’m watching people carefully, to notice if someone wants to speak to ensure that we still hear from everyone.

I feel very lucky that my days are so varied and I have the chance to work on so many different activities and with such talented and diverse colleagues

 

Lunch


I don’t often stop long for lunch so I’ve worked hard at getting outside each day, often using one of my regular catch-ups with my team members to walk and talk, so keeping the work moving forward while looking after my wellbeing. I’ve actively encouraged my colleagues across the business to do the same and I’m definitely going to keep this up as we embrace hybrid working, a combination of days in the office and at home.

As well as regular check-in meetings with members of my team, I spend time monitoring and reviewing our many and varied projects, and frequently meet with my ExCo and Board colleagues. These are exciting times for the PPF as we continue to evolve and grow.

As I look at my diary for tomorrow, I have two Town Hall meetings via Zoom where we’ll be updating all colleagues on the latest news about the organisation and our planned new ways of working. Despite working remotely, and operating within an uncertain economic environment, we’ve maintained our high levels of service to our members and levy payers whist ensuring the successful management of our £36billion fund. I’m really looking forward to reminding everyone about what we’ve achieved since the pandemic began, and showing that their hard work is appreciated.

 

Afternoon


Moving the Town Halls to a virtual format and increasing the frequency to once a month was a change we made early on in the pandemic – as a way to bring the organisation together and it’s been well received. We’ve seen a real increase in people asking questions since we changed the format and the Zoom chat function has given us another new channel, really bringing our aspiration of having a ‘speak up’ culture to life. We’re going to keep the format in our new hybrid world.

My daily work routine actually hasn’t changed that much since the pandemic began...

 

I expect lots of the questions tomorrow will be about our plans for returning to the office, and how we see the long-term future of work. We’ve already done a lot of work with people to understand the benefits they’ve experienced from working at home and to help them understand the benefits we all get from being together in the office.

As we finalise our plans for returning to the office for part of the week we’ll continue to speak with colleagues to understand in more detail which elements of each person’s role are best done at home and which activities would benefit from having people in the same room. We have such a wide range of people and roles that it’d be wrong to make one rule for everyone on ways of working. There’s still more to do here and I suspect it’ll be more complicated than it sounds!

 

Evening


My other meetings tomorrow include the Steering Group for our programme to increase efficiency and service for our members and a late meeting for my Non-Exec role with a global innovation consultancy business, Isle Utilities, timed to ensure the people in North America can join!

I feel very lucky that my days are so varied and I have the chance to work on so many different activities and with such a talented group of colleagues.

 

End of the day