Meet the Gloucestershire business owner perfecting the art of the work-life balance

For many of us, achieving that all-important balance between hours at work and quality time at home is a long-term goal. But for Neil Smith, managing director of ReformIT, attaining this became a reality after his young children mentioned how much time he spent at work, sparking a transformation in his life and way of working, for the better.

By Sarah Kent  |  Published
Take some time out to review how things are at work and home, like Neil Smith at ReformIT did, and, if needed, make some adjustments to help achieve a happy medium. Image © Sarah Smith

Neil Smith, managing director of Cheltenham-based ReformIT, recently shared a post on LinkedIn that attracted a lot comments — it was a personal snapshot into Smith's thoughts on a week's annual leave with his wife and family.

The post talked about completely switching off from work, not checking emails or calling the office and being fully present — no easy feat for a business owner. SoGlos caught up with him to find out how he achieved this and the importance he places on good mental health for himself, his family and his team.

Your recent LinkedIn post about switching off from work and taking time out for mental health really struck home with the business community. What is your advice to anyone who is struggling with this? 

The first thing to do is to promote a culture of speaking about mental health and the importance of taking time out with your colleagues and family. When we are all on the same page, it makes everyone more aware and more accepting of the change.

Was there anything specific that happened to cause you to rethink how much time you were spending working? 

My children have been the biggest instigator for me. Carl is 11 and Zoe is 7. They are of the age where they are asking me to spend time with them, pointing out and reminding me how much I work. They don’t care about the physical things my working affords us, they just want my time.

Where there any challenges at work that took away from your time at home? 

The nature of being a managed service provider (MSP) means that things crop up without warning and I need to be able to respond quickly, meaning I can be away at all hours and with little or no notice.

So, what changes have you now made to your working life that have positively impacted your home life and family? 

I have worked hard within the business to put the right people in the right roles. This means I have been able to delegate a lot of my workload to the correct people.

With my wife also coming onboard in the business, this has meant she can take on some of my responsibilities, mostly around the operations side. I have had to learn that I can’t always be involved in every little aspect of the day-to-day running of ReformIT — and with a team I trust, I no longer have to be.

Has your role been affected by the changes you’ve made to your work-life balance? 

Yes, hugely. I am now able to dedicate more of my time to aspects I have not always had time to do. Such as planning for the future of ReformIT! I also have more time to pass on my knowledge and experience to the skilled engineers in my team.

And have things now improved at home for you and your family? 

Yes, immeasurably! I only recently commented to my wife that this is the first year I have managed to watch all of the snooker in over a decade.

I am able to relax more, my kids are content and my wife is happy. We all know the secret to a happy life is a happy wife!

What can MSPs like ReformIT do to help a business support the work and home life balance?  

More than you could realise. Having our managed service means that you have complete technology peace of mind. You can take that holiday or have a four-day week and know that your systems are secure and running smoothly. You can spend your time doing all the other things in your business that make it successful.

What are the key tools or values a business should think about when addressing mental health and running a successful company? 

Open dialogue is the most important thing that we all have the power to create. Making sure your whole team is aware that you take everyone's mental health seriously.

It starts at the top and must be a core value for everyone, in my opinion. IT is a very male-dominated business and with the issues we face in the world today around men's mental health, we have a responsibility to change the culture and make sure men can talk.

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, please contact Samaritans for help and advice on 116 123 or email

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