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Interviews / HR & Culture

Balancing the Grind with Laura Packwood, Head of People at AppLearn

Laura Packwood is the Head of People at AppLearn, a pioneering digital adoption company and creator of the Adopt digital adoption solution.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I am Head of People at AppLearn, a pioneering Digital Adoption Platform based in the UK, working with market leading companies in over 100 countries to ensure their applications support more than 2,000,000 people and their business critical goals. 

I graduated in 2003 and started my HR career at a magic circle law firm in the City of London, working initially in an international HR role, and later moving to L&D.

I have since held roles focussing on Talent, EDI, Performance Management and Engagement. My role at AppLearn manages everything from employee experience, operational HR,  recruitment and beyond!

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

We work with a hybrid model at AppLearn, so it very much depends on where I am working. On office days, I drop my youngest child at nursery and drive into the office. It takes about 45 minutes to get from nursery to the office, so I always listen to a podcast on my drive.

True Crime is a big favourite of mine, but also anything political or current affairs based. I start the day with a management team scrum to discuss priorities for the day and then get on with the day’s work and meetings.

My working day in an office environment usually revolves around face to face time with people, to have those conversations that work better in person than over Teams, I often spend the majority of my time away from my desk talking to people.

I leave the office in time for nursery closing and spend some time with my children before I usually open up my laptop and catch up on the day’s work. I don’t mind working in the evening after a day in the office, it allows me the time to reply to emails and plan for the following day.

On my work from home days I take my eldest child to school and am home in time for the morning scrum and spend the day with my head in work I really need to focus on without distraction, however, I am always available to talk, that’s the nature of HR.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

AppLearn offers great flexibility and balance. As a standard, we work hybrid with 40% of time spent in the office, however employees are able to spend as much time as they would like in the office and people often do, as collaboration is much easier in person.

We also work with flexible start and finish times and formal flexible working arrangements which allows me to work 4 days per week while my children are young. For me, it is a perfect balance of  time spent with colleagues and time spent at home with my family. 

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Work-life balance means getting to spend time with my family whilst feeling fulfilled at work; never feeling like I am giving 50% to either.

A healthy work life balance means you can accomplish your goals in your career and progress, whilst being able to enjoy time away without stress or worry. I do struggle with this at times, it isn’t easy to switch off and I can find myself working when I should be out of the office, but I am working on it!

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

When I am working from home I have my own office and I close the door and leave work alone at the end of the day. When the UK first went into lockdown I didn’t do this and would always be online, which isn’t healthy for anyone.

It took me a good 12  months to undo this behaviour, but I feel it was similar for a lot of people, it was a difficult period of time and a strange adjustment. I have also done what most people did during lockdown: got a dog! So leaving my home office and taking the dog for a walk is like a mini commute and it really helps put some distance between work and home life.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I am always listening to a podcast, however the majority of the time they are non-work related as it’s a bit of escapism. I plan on launching my own, so watch this space! I rarely read a physical book anymore as I just don’t have the time, which is why I love podcasts and audiobooks so much.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

I have tried a few mindfulness, wellbeing and relaxation apps, but they just don’t work for me, I am far too easily distracted. I really enjoy in person mindfulness and dance classes, that is what really gets me to switch off and lifts my mood. I couldn’t live without learning a new dance routine, no way!

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?  

Dolly Parton! How she manages to achieve all that she does in her professional life and philanthropy just astounds me.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

It takes time to unlearn bad habits, but persevere and get the right balance you need for your circumstances.

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.