Laura's been with me a few months now. Rather than trot out the usual 'how's it going' questions, I asked for some ideas from people I know. This is what they came up with and what Laura had to say. No prizes for guessing which one is from my wife. 

What does he actually do? 

Adam conducts research for organisations who need insights and answers to help them make better decisions. The projects he works on are quite varied. Right now we’re working on a staff survey for a fire and rescue service, a local authority resident survey on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, a national survey of museums and an evaluation of the NHS Volunteer Responders scheme in Lancashire. 

Did you know what you were getting yourself into?  

Broadly yes. My degree had a strong emphasis on social research methods so nothing I’ve been asked to do has come as a particular shock or surprise to me (yet!). In the relatively short time I’ve been here, I’ve already been provided with plenty of opportunity to build upon the skills I learnt during my degree. I’ve assisted on a number of different and interesting real-world projects which is exactly what I was hoping to get out of this experience. 

Are you actually learning anything from him?  

Yes a lot!! I have learnt a lot about survey design including the most robust sources to locate existing standard questions and best practices when it comes to writing your own questions. I’ve also learnt a lot about online survey software and the clever things you can do within the survey set up to tailor questions to each individual respondent and improve response rates.  

Indirectly, I am also learning a lot about Lancashire and the surrounding areas through the projects we’ve been working on which is really interesting for me as someone who lives 300 miles away and has never been. And I now know to politely decline the Tour of Pendle running route if Adam ever invites me to join him on it - 16 miles of steep hills?! He must be mad!  

Has living so far away from each other been hard? Or a blessing?  

I think me living in Kent and Adam in Lancashire can sometimes be a challenge, particularly when it comes to tasks I’ve not done before – if I have a query, it can feel just that bit more daunting not having someone beside me that I can simply turn to and ask.   

Having said that, Adam helps to minimise the challenge this poses. We have a weekly catch up meeting where I can ask questions and Adam can share his screen to go through any new tasks. We are also in daily contact via Teams so I do know he’s always on hand for virtual support.   

And on the plus side, he doesn’t have to find out how terrible I am at making tea and coffee so there’s always that!   

Is there anything you’ve enjoyed?  

I have really enjoyed the level of involvement that Adam has allowed me to have in the projects he has been working on and that I’m not just seen as someone to delegate mundane background duties to.   

Instead, I have been entrusted from the outset with 'frontline’ tasks like drafting surveys, writing reports and undertaking data analysis (all under Adam’s supervision). So I've had a genuine input into the overall delivery of his projects.   

I also really like the variety of the role itself - one moment I could be drafting a survey, the next writing a report, the next making an infographic and the next writing a blog post! No two days are the same and there’s always something more that can be done or learnt which I personally love the challenge of.   

How do you put up with him?  

Ha I think to be fair the same question could also be posed to him! In all seriousness (and I don’t want to make his head big or anything) Adam is genuinely a great person to work for. He takes the time to explain things, never makes me feel as though I’ve asked a stupid question (when I’m sure I have probably asked many!) and is just generally a supportive and easy-going person to work alongside each day.  And, if on the off-chance he does start being a pain in the future, I can always cite ‘connectivity issues’ for some peace!