Lauren Dare is a lawyer by profession and also the founder of Switcharoo, a company helping laid-off workers find employment during COVID-19.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m a lawyer by profession and spent a number of years practising in law firms and also as an in-house lawyer before co-founding a legal recruitment agency with my husband five years ago.
Since founding that business I’ve had three little boys (we now have three under three!) so life is busy! Our recruitment agency has been very successful but like all recruitment agencies it was heavily impacted by COVID-19 with many of our long term clients initiating recruitment freezes in response to the crisis.
We’ve no doubt things will pick up again for our recruitment agency, and thankfully things are already improving with firms re-commencing some hiring activity, but the current crisis was the catalyst to found my new venture Swticharoo.
COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated the job market is fragile. It can turn on a dime. Be it a shift in government policy, a major player deciding to take production offshore, or a global pandemic, there are many ways in which the job market can shift in an instant. I founded Switcharoo to help people who have lost work to get back on their feet and back to work in a booming industry.
We do this at Switcharoo by offering fast and affordable online training courses coupled with job application material (we call them Job Starter Packs!) such as resume templates, cover letters and interview preparation guides which are all tailored to the industry/role they are seeking to apply for.
We ensure our clients have the knowledge, skills, confidence and supporting material to land them that job in a competitive market.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
There’s no 9-5, that’s for sure! Fortunately I’m able to largely work from home so I can juggle the needs of our children and our clients concurrently.
That might mean breastfeeding on a Zoom call, but if I spent my day waiting for a free moment, I would achieve nothing. Multitasking has taken on a scary new meaning in this house!
Having dressed and fed the kids, I try to be at my desk at 8.00am and ready to start the work day. The first port of call is always ensuring I am up to date with what is going on in the job market and industry, as well as staying abreast of the current coronavirus situation.
Job market analytics and speaking with employers consumes much of my day. The balance of my time is spent developing our next release of job starter packs by working with our expert consultants and service providers to ensure our products are the best in the market.
Where possible, I will personally respond to overnight website enquiries and answer any questions people may have about our courses and job starter packs. The rest of those enquiries are managed by our efficient helpdesk.
That’s the day shift! From about 4pm my husband and I then start dinner, bath and bed for the two big kids (Archie – 2, Sidney – 1). With any luck they are both asleep by 6pm and then it’s time to focus on my littlest (Mackenzie – 3 weeks), although he is pretty much in my arms all day anyway!
It’s a juggling act! When he decides to sleep I’ll log back on and finish off anything else I need to for the day before signing off around midnight. 2 more night feeds before 6am and the day starts over.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yes absolutely. I’m very fortunate that Switcharoo is a digital service and nearly all of my work can be done flexibly and remotely.
Having a flexible role is extremely important to me. If the kids need me, I can drop what I’m doing and attend to them and then resume work once they are settled.
It isn’t always easy getting the balance right, but with a flexible attitude and a willingness to work at obscure hours, it can be done.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work life balance is extremely important to me. My little people and my family are the most important thing in my life but we all need to work to provide the best for our families. Maintaining a balance is critical in my view.
How I’ve achieved work-life balance is a little unorthodox in that I’ve founded businesses that have provided me with autonomy and are well aligned to remote and flexible working practices. In general terms, I find that good forward planning can greatly assist in getting the balance right.
If you’re organised and well across what you have on it’s easier to drop things and then pick them back up without feeling frazzled or missing deadlines. Fortunately, one positive out of COVID-19 is that it has removed a great deal of stigma from flexible and remote working and I’m confident many businesses will embrace this working style moving forward.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Everything and nothing has changed, if that is possible? Since being in isolation we became very independent as a family and much more resourceful. We also require less “entertainment”. The frivolous spending of time and money has stopped all together.
Yoga now plays a more significant role in my life as well. I carve out time just once a week to have a moment to rest my mind and stretch my tired limbs.
6) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
- Google Hangouts – a must for remote working.
- Relax Melodies – white noise app so i can encourage independent sleepers.
- PS Phonestrap – a new generation phone case and strap that allows me to have my phone and cards with me at all times. This is a multitasking must for all mums juggling busy lives.
- Surface Pro – so I can take work with me to the park, shops, doctors appointments- anywhere!
7) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Janine Allis – founder of Boost Juice and mother of four.
8) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Flexibility is the key in my view. Having a successful career takes time and hard work and in my view it’s inevitable that work will creep into your personal time. But it has to swing both ways – and family will interrupt the usual 9-5 – be it for a swimming carnival or sore tummy.
Find an employer that will offer you flexibility so you can prioritise what’s most important at any given time without missing deadlines, sacrificing your quality of work or sacrificing your personal needs or those of your family. If you cant fine an employer like that- become your own boss!
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