Return to Work with Resonance’s Leila Sharland: ‘I have missed chatty office lunches’

Resonance's Sharland shares what she misses about office life, but says WFH perks include more time for cycling and the beach

Lockdown rules in the UK and Europe have been relaxing in recent weeks and many investment professionals are looking at how their future working lives may look like.

Following on from our popular Working from Home series, we ask female members of the ESG community about lockdown habits, the prospect of returning to the office environment and adapted attitudes towards remote working.

In this article, speak to Leila Sharland, senior investment manager at Resonance.

How has the coronavirus affected your day-to-day work – from both a portfolio and workplace perspective?

My work has been taken in a different direction by coronavirus; firstly, it meant I spent a lot of time working closely with my investment portfolio to see if there were any immediate measures I could take to assist them. This hasn’t gone away, but the urgency has died down as we and they adjust to the ‘new normal’.

Secondly, I have also had a shift in strategic work too. As one of the team of three heading up Resonance’s  Enterprise Growth Funds, I have been working closely with colleagues and the wider sector on various initiatives including Resonance’s involvement in the delivery of the £19m Social Enterprise Support Fund and becoming an assessment partner to SIB on the Recovery & Resilience Loan Fund (part of CBILS). 

What have you enjoyed and disliked about remote working? 

I’ve enjoyed seeing more of my family and I’ve enjoyed how video conferencing has allowed me to connect with colleagues in other offices, and to get to know them in a way that just seemed less possible before. However, I have really missed seeing lots of people I don’t work with directly day-to-day and our chatty office lunches. I’ve also disliked that I have not been able to get out and meet social enterprises and network widely, which are really key points for me in ensuring I’m connecting my work in with what the wider community needs.

Are you making plans to return to work in the office?

I am going to go with the flow here, but think I will be back in the office sometime in September probably. I am hoping to increase my working from home hours, but I wouldn’t want to work from home full-time.

Have you thought about changing how you commute? Has your general attitude to travelling to work or for business changed? 

I have had quite a long commute to work, so I have really enjoyed saving that time in my day. Plus, my house is only just over a mile from a beautiful Cornish beach and it has been fantastic to be able to head over there immediately at the end of a tough day. I’m actually moving closer to work in the near future, and looking forward to being able to possibly cycle in once or twice a week.

See also: – The accidental working from home experiment – part 1

Share some good news you have heard recently about companies’ reactions to Covid-19 crisis? 

The funds that I manage within Resonance invest directly into social enterprises, and generally, every social enterprise I have close contact with has been amazingly resilient and adaptive in the face of such an unexpected shock to how they operate and generate income. I would like to give a special mention to two enterprises who have been innovative in not letting Covid-19 dent their ambitions; these are BF Adventure on their progress towards opening the first outdoors ‘Via Feratta’ adrenaline course in the South West, plus Leges Support CIC who have been finding ways to increase their opening hours, and meet additional demand for legal guidance in Family and Employment matters.

Do you have a ‘top tip’ to share on working remotely?

Turn off your phone and computer when you are not working, especially at weekends and after 8-9pm at night. Remember to have some fun and laughs during all those video calls too – not every moment has to be serious.

What is your favourite sustainable snack when working?

An apple. I keep one cut up on my desk to snack on in the afternoons.

The full Return to Work series is below:

Return to Work with Sanlam’s Alice Farrer: ‘If travel is not necessary, why do it?’

Return to work with Hawksmoor’s Bridget Gaskell: WFH stigma has been completely eradicated during lockdown

Return to Work with BNY Mellon’s Suzanne Hutchins: ‘It has been stressful but manageable’

Return to Work with CGWM’s Leetal Stark: ‘The City is so quiet’

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Natalie Kenway

Natalie is global head of ESG insight for ESG Clarity and has been an investment journalist for 16 years. She won Editor of the Year at the Aviva Investors Sustainability Media Awards 2021, and was Winner...