Alison Douglas – meet the faces behind CPP Group UK
Meet Alison Douglas, our head of propositions
In this latest series, we’re getting to know the faces behind the CPP Group UK team and how life has changed for them since working from home.
Alison Douglas has a wealth of change management experience and has worked across a wide range of sectors. Prior to joining CPP, she worked for more than 15 years in partnership with affinity insurance organisations delivering products for large brand name partners from motor manufacturers, high street banks, national charities and utilities.
As our head of propositions, she’s our person that ensures things get done. She has responsibility for products, marketing and operational functions as well as being fundamental to the UK senior leadership team.
1. What would a normal day in the office look like for you?
For those that know me it will be no surprise that a shorter commute – 5 steps – from my kitchen to my office, means I just start work earlier than usual. But, I have been starting my day with a cup of fresh coffee looking out over the garden, planning what needs to be done. I’ll miss this time once this is all over. Once the working day has started the day is pretty busy. Almost all our meetings have transferred to Skype or Zoom, so I’ll spend most of my day on the phone or answering emails. In that sense, my current days look like a normal day in the office! Although I have banned sandwiches at the desk so we always all stop for lunch as a family.
2. Where have you set up as your working from home space?
I work from home quite often so I’m lucky enough to have an office space set up in our spare room overlooking our garden. I brought all my IT kit home (screen, docking station, etc) when we left the office so I’m basically set up the same as I would be in Leeds – I just have a better view.
3. What do you wear to work from home – have you been tempted to stay in your PJs?
Not so far, I’ve been making an effort to dress as if I’m going to work – on the top half at least!
4. Do you have background noise on whilst you work? If so, what do you like to listen to?
I’m listening to the sound of birds in the garden right now.
5. What have you been watching and reading to get you through quarantine?
‘The Good Place’ on Netflix – I’m hooked. Although I get through a lot of audio books too: I just finished ‘How to stop time’ by Matt Haig. I’m about to start ‘Master and Commander’ by Patrick O’Brian, which was recommend to be by James our product manager.
6. Do you have a favourite working-from-home snack or meal?
I have to admit to a secret stash of Hotel Chocolate dark chocolate.
7. Have you taken up any new hobbies or habits whilst at home?
Dusting, although I can’t see it lasting as a habit.
8. What are you finding the hardest about isolating?
Trying to balance work and home life when the boundaries aren’t enforced by the routine of commuting. There is always more to do, so when do you stop?
Although we also ran out of ketchup at the weekend which was pretty traumatic.
9. Do you have any tips for other people working from home?
It’s always going to be easier if you are busy, which gives a sense of purpose. If you are struggling or it gets too much, take a cup of tea and have a walk round your garden if you can. Somehow being outside with nature helps bring a sense of perspective.
I’ve also found that with the mobile, messaging, video calls and email people feel you are more available, and can’t “see” you are on another call or in a meeting. It’s sometimes difficult to get a period of uninterrupted time to complete a task, or meetings might be interrupted by messages. So I try to avoid doing this to others by checking team members’ availability on Skype before I contact them; if I need uninterrupted time to get something completed I schedule the time in my diary and then work offline for a while.
10. What’s the first thing you will do when things return to “normal”?
Bizarre, but I’m really missing shop-bought sandwiches and the usual lunch time routine – so it will be a trip to Pret-a-Manger.
At home, it will be to visit my parents but that could be a while yet.