WFH Profile: Jacob Cooper
19 June 2020
Posted by: Fiona Westcough
Remote working is certainly an interesting concept when operating within the rail industry. In our series of Working From Home (WFH) Profiles, our YRP members describe how they are embracing this concept and adapting their collaborative methods to ensure that they deliver to their respective roles. This week, our WFH Profile has been submitted byJacob Cooper.
Jacob Cooper – Development Manager - Network Rail
Professional Networking & Development Manager, YRP National Exec
I work as an Infrastructure Development Manager within Network Rail‘s Northern Programmes Team. This means I am the project manager for the concept, feasibility, option development and option selection phases of major infrastructure projects and programmes across the North of England. We take client’s requirements, problem statements or desired outcomes and develop feasible concepts and solutions in order to support industry decision making and investment appraisal.
This involves managing the design of multi-disciplinary railway infrastructure schemes, undertaking anticipated final cost estimates, and the testing and analysis of the infrastructure against a proposed train service to identify the system benefits. Another key element is to identify possible contracting and procurement strategies for the next phase and overall delivery of the scheme. On completion of these elements we can then begin to produce business cases to identify the benefit to cost ratio, deliverability and the strategic case for investment for the scheme.
There is very little site based work required for the majority of my work so naturally my job can be performed from an office, or at home in this matter.
I’m lucky that I have enough space to set up some form of office however I will be the first to admit that working at home has been very difficult for me. I’m a very social person who likes the office environment and having interaction with others. At first I found it very difficult to be productive, trying to find different ways of working and getting up to speed with new software and apps. Quickly adapting to the great software available I then became more productive, and so did my team. However more recently I have struggled to get away from considerable ‘screen time’, feeling that I’m always reachable by colleagues and clients on the various platforms, and often having back to back video conferences.
Here are a few of my top tips I’ve developed so far during this time:
- Try to schedule a short walk or a non-intense cycle during the day to break work up and get some fresh air.
- If you have a meeting or call which doesn’t require you to have access to your computer try and take it on your mobile and use this opportunity to get away from your ‘desk’, I often sit in the garden for these calls.
- It doesn’t feel like there’s a defined lunch hour anymore, but try to block out time for lunch in your diary and avoid calls during this time. If you’re working at your dining table, eat elsewhere.
- Stay connected. Prior to starting work, every morning at the same time our team has a coffee and a chat over video conferencing, it’s what you would do in the office when people come in that morning, you could even do a quick and fun quiz. What’s more, it’s become a routine.
- Develop yourself. Use this time to develop new skills and knowledge. I have allocated 1 hour of CPD activities in my diary every day since lockdown began. Of course I haven’t achieved all of this, but I’ve done my best. I’m progressing towards Chartership with the APM which would require a minimum 30 hours CPD in the last 12 months, like many other professional institutions. If I put development as a top priority I’ll hit that 30 hours just within lockdown. What’s more, there are currently so many organisations and institutions doing free CPD webinars and courses, not to mention the series of brilliant webinars that YRP are running.
I hope that helps give you a quick overview of my role and what I do, and the challenges I have faced working from home. However more importantly I hope it gives you a few ideas to improve your WFH experience. If you’d like to discuss anything then please don’t hesitate to reach out.