Blurring the ‘leader’ and ‘home’ lines

A lot goes into the careful construction of what a person might project to the outside world. For the women in our study, we’ve spoken about how their morning routines give them a sense of constructing the ‘leader’ persona, and how they don the clothing and appearance of a ‘professional leader’ as part of getting ready. This can get them into the mindset of being ready for the day, of tackling the challenges associated with leading schools, and of the sorts of complex interactions they’re going to have throughout the day.

We’ve been really interested in what this all means for women who are working from home at the moment. We’ve explored the wardrobe choices women are making, as well as some of the critiques that felt inevitable as soon as all of this started. Something that keeps coming up is the challenge of the video conferencing background. While some of the twitter accounts, such as this one that rates the credibility of experts based on how many books are behind them on screen, are funny, there’s also a lot of really serious critique about what it means to essentially open a window into your home life, for people who are usually able to set boundaries and define what is a private or public part of their lives.

Many of us are working from hastily set-up spaces which means the hidden parts of our home are on display in the background – bedrooms or kitchens: the spaces where many people might have thought of as the places they once decompressed from work. They’re now right there, undeniably in screen and blurring the boundaries of work and home even more.

As a result, we’ve seen a surge in clever video conferencing backgrounds and discussions about how to find the perfect one (by the way, I have the final answer on this: I present to you, my Ramones brick wall background in the form of the hotline bling meme – this took more effort than you’d think).

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I had a discussion with some school leaders about this last week and the general consensus was that it adds a layer of unexpected worry to the interactions leaders are having with people. There were a couple of people who hadn’t even thought of it, but others who had planned and constructed backgrounds with precision to convey a certain image – or to keep the separation between home and work. We’re interested to hear what your experiences are – how have you approached this? Is it something you’ve even thought about? Get in touch with us on twitter! We’d love to hear from you.



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