“To form bubbles (as boiling water, a running stream, etc.); to rise in bubbles (as gas through liquid, water from a spring, etc.; often with out or up); to emit the sounds due to the formation and bursting of bubbles.” OED. 2nd Edition 1989
Here at Britvic, the word bubble immediately makes us think of our fantastic carbonated soft drinks. During the last two years the word has taken on a different meaning for all of us. For our family, however “’bubble’ has always meant protection from the world outside our home. For as long as I can remember, every day when we have stepped outside of our house: to school, to work, to visit family or just to pop to the corner shop we have imagined stepping into a bubble that surrounds us and protects us from the outside world.
Why? What makes us different?
All four of us are neurodivergent (autistic and/or ADHD). Being neurodivergent brings amazing strengths in our attention to detail, the ability to focus on one task for an extended length of time, our loyalty and our sense of justice. It also brings with it some significant challenges in the workplace, in school, indeed anywhere outside of our home. Challenges that are so hidden you’d never know they were there.
Offices are busy environments, and the buzz that many of you missed during lockdown can be so uncomfortable for someone with sensory sensitivities like me that it can actually become physically painful. It’s also extremely distracting. Whilst you can concentrate on a conversation without even thinking about it, I can find it almost impossible to hear what is being said because of the everyday sounds that are in the background: the faint sound of the air conditioning or the tapping of a keyboard sounds just as loud as your voice to me. That brightly coloured and animated presentation you worked so hard on is almost impossible to read because my eyes are blinded by the busyness of the pictures, colours, movement and text.
Add to that the everyday social expectations of maintaining eye contact, smiling and nodding appropriately, trying to work out when it’s your turn to speak (it’s a mystery to me how people manage this) and the effort of just existing within the workplace can be overwhelming at times.
Working Well changed that, for me and for all my family.
I’m new to Britvic, and Working Well – Britvic’s approach to flexible working – was a significant factor in my choosing to join Britvic rather than anyone else. Why? It all comes down to one word. Difference.
I did my research. I read about all the B-Yourself initiatives. As an LGBTQA+ family ally my heart sang when I saw the B-Proud group, but it was when reading about the B-Seen network for disability and diverse ability that I truly felt that I had found a company that would not only embrace my difference but one which would have the tools available and crucially, the motivation and culture which would allow me to reach my full potential. The flexibility around working at home and on-site not only meant that I could work in an environment that suited my needs, but crucially for us, meant my husband and I could continue to care for our disabled teenager who has really complex needs. It would also mean that I could go full-time for the first time in 25 years.
The only thing I had to do was to get the job!
So here I am, just over eight months into my role and I can honestly say that I have absolutely loved every single minute so far. The flexibility and understanding that Katy, my line manager, has shown is truly transformative. I am thriving. My friends and family have told me how much happier I seem: they’re right. I am.
The bubble has finally burst. But for me, that’s a truly wonderful thing.
Wendy Staples | Capability Coordinator, Apprenticeships