The ladies of TWIL provided a calendar of regular yoga, mindfulness, wellbeing and sleep sessions which were open to all employees and helped to raise money for local women's charities. They also launched an internal mentorship program and quickly became a safe space for women to discuss their ambitions and fears.
In a time when so many of us felt anxious and uncertain, TWIL enabled a space in our working culture where vulnerability is okay, and being open and honest about your struggles has become an inspiration.
In honor of International Women's Day, this is part one of Trustpilot women recounting their stories of resilience – sharing their challenges from the past year and the steps they have taken to move forward in their own way.
Rachel Shields, Sales Manager, UK
Personally, this year has been a challenge for so many reasons - getting accustomed to a new way of working and adapting to and creating a divide of work-life balance as i found they all seemed to merge into one. This has highlighted the need for more self awareness of what is important to me, both inside of work and also externally.
The changes have been more centered around my home life and self-care and the need for daily exercise, eating healthy (I deleted Deliveroo) and looking at ways of socialising away from screens, as well as making sure I am still connected to my social network – which is so important to me.
I have realized that the community and social interactions of an office environment (my team/colleagues are like work family) and daily structure are very important to who I am as a person and I have tried where possible to mirror those elements by fake commutes before I start my day, changing the space in my home and living in the present. As a person that gives energy and is energised by people, this lockdown isolation wfh has really been the biggest challenge for me!
Taylor Cunningham, Senior Global Director, Customer Marketing
When the pandemic closed schools and childcare, I suddenly found myself seven months pregnant, caring full-time for a 2-year-old, running global Customer Marketing at Trustpilot, and sharing an "office" (our NYC apartment) with my husband.
At that time, it was helpful to re-read the book Fair Play (and remind my husband of some of the key points...) – it reassured me that the incremental and disproportionate stress I was feeling was real and valid, and helped me advocate for myself and ask for help.
Plamena Apostolova, Director of Field Marketing, Europe
One of the biggest challenges I had to face in the past year in lockdown was how to juggle my work and my family of four. The first couple of months in lockdown were the hardest. The daycare for our 2 kids closed down, and so did our offices. For 2 months, we had to work from home while taking care of our 2 small kids.
At first, the task seemed impossible. It felt like I couldn’t fully focus on either my work or my kids, which brought a sense of guilt that I was not doing either one right. After 2 weeks of hell, my husband and I sat down and made a plan for how to tackle this impossible situation. Each evening, we would carefully plan the day ahead – comparing work calendars and priorities for the day, we started making a detailed plan for the entire day – the schedule had time for working, and time for the kids.
That brought not only a great structure for us and the kids in this difficult time, but also alleviated the sense of enormous sense of guilt I felt. We managed to improve our productivity at work and also spend some meaningful time with our kids.
Wynn Mustin, Head of Content
The challenge that stands out to me most is a professional one I experienced while shifting into my new role in January. I faced a major time crunch trying to address all of my new responsibilities and projects — while still seeing through my legacy projects from my previous role.
My instinct was to try to power through my workload and not let my teammates, direct reports, or manager know how overwhelmed I felt. Early in my career I picked up a habit of keeping my work stress to myself because I was determined to paint myself as a "yesser" – likely because I was more confident about my work ethic than I was about my work itself. But I decided to speak to both my manager and my mentor at Trustpilot about what I was experiencing, and they both pointed out that I'd hardly handed off any responsibilities to my (beyond capable) teammate.
What I learned from this is that it's not only okay to be honest with yourself and your teammates when things are getting to be too much – but that taking a step back to prioritize and delegate can also lead to growth and new opportunities for other members of the team.
Gina Jenks, Director of Analytics
When I reflected on my recent challenges, I immediately thought, 'Wow, did I actually FIX any problems I had this year?' and immediately started looking for a big, pretty story of overcoming, which I just don't have. This year has been incredibly tough professionally, as well as mentally and emotionally due to the constant uncertainty and lockdowns. These lockdowns keep me from venting over a glass of wine with my girlfriends, which I feel I so desperately need to make it through the tough times.
So instead of these catch-ups, I'm simply finding small things to help myself cope with what is going on. When I thought about my reaction, I realised that not everything can or will be fully 'fixed', and sometimes just coping by doing little things is enough.
So from this point, I'll start my story:
Pre-lockdown, I was doing all the things. I would go to work, go to my school for my Master's program after that, and then come home to relax or go meet some friends. This allowed me to easily compartmentalise the different priorities and pieces of my life, and provided different settings for engaging with them. While I was tired, I felt overall energetic and stimulated. I was excited about life and all the opportunities it afforded me.
During the pandemic however, all of these things have melded into one mass of me on my sofa all day long – from work meetings, to school lectures, and finally to my evening Netflix wind-down. I felt mentally exhausted, irritable, and frustrated, while at the same time having low physical energy. I won't even talk about Christmas (ok, I will – two weeks on the sofa – yikes).
The one thing I knew I needed was some structure, so I decided to start a morning routine that would get me out of the house and ready for the day. I wrote it down, and started immediately the next day, and haven't stopped since then! I noticed an immediate improvement in my mood, and started to really look forward to my mornings. It sounds silly – it's just a time for my husband and I to take a walk around the neighbourhood, we discuss ideas and things we're ooking forward to, I drink some water and take some vitamins and meditate, but it's made such a difference in my overall outlook and willingness to engage with each day, one step at a time.
Has it 'fixed' everything? Absolutely not. But at a time like this, just having one small thing to look forward to, one reason to get out of the house, has given me just a bit more energy and mental clarity, and I'm grateful for it.
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