One of the key elements in our response to Covid-19 has been the focus on wellbeing and protecting the mental and physical health of everyone who works in PDS.
We held ‘Wellbeing Week’ earlier in the summer, and we offer a range of virtual activities to maintain our PDS community. We've been helping to support staff with additional training to help them adapt to change and new ways of working.
The next series of wellbeing events will take place across two weeks in November.
Hannah and Amy both work in customer facing roles. They experienced first-hand the challenges that Covid brought to their teams and their customers.
Here they talk about how they've used PDS initiatives to promote wellbeing in their teams and what they’ve learned.
Amy Stainton, Local Engagement Officer
“I think the wellbeing events have helped me to just stop and ask, ‘how well am I looking after myself and how well is everyone in the team?’
The focus on wellbeing has made it much easier for me to ask my colleagues questions like: ‘When was the last time you got 8 hours’ sleep?’; ‘When was the last time you focused on your breathing?’; ‘When was the last time you had some fun?’
But it was a question that someone asked me that really got me thinking – ‘what does it mean to support yourself and your colleagues?’ "
Hannah Bailey, Customer Relations Manager
“Our teams are made up of individuals, each with different needs and goals.
As a line manager, I need to find ways to communicate to build relationships and make sure people feel comfortable that they can come to me if they need support.”
“I learnt very early on in the Covid lockdown that it is harder to support each other when we’re working remotely. Without that daily physical interaction, it’s so important to develop a good level of trust that allows us to be open and honest about how we’re feeling.
Things like a daily stand up call, so we can check in at least once a day with each other, and conversations about the best channels to use to communicate, so that no-one is overloaded with emails or messages.
And, of course, sharing images of what’s happening in our lives or cute pets in our group chats. All these things help to bridge the gap when we work apart.”
“Oh yes we love a pet in our team, too!
We’ve always been interested in trying new approaches to promote wellbeing. While we were still office-based, my team decided to try out ‘walking 1-2-1s’. These worked fine until the weather became miserable and we got bored of doing our indoor route!
One part of Wellbeing Week was about getting out for a walk with your team or other colleagues – virtually of course as this was during lockdown, but we were at least walking at the same time.
That got us to thinking that we all really needed to get a screen break. So, we trialled a fortnightly walking meeting. We walk wherever we fancy – in the garden, in the house or where we live. It doesn’t matter. The main thing is we can have a productive meeting on the phone, whilst doing a little exercise and getting away from the screen.
To quote Mental Health First Aid England:
...including some movement into your work from home routine will help maintain your physical and mental health. You’ll feel more awake and alert, and your concentration and sleep will improve.
After the walk we all feel more awake and had that all-important break from the blue light.”
“Off the back of the Wellbeing Week activities, we introduced some new ways of working to try to encourage everyone to take time out and be kind to themselves. A lot of that is around diary management – making sure people have time in their diaries to spend as a team but also to have thinking time for themselves.
Of course, time in the diary for coffee is very important as is time for exercise or mindfulness and team quizzes (virtual quizzes are mandatory in lockdown it seems!).
We’ve also added icebreakers to our stand-ups, although I do not recommend asking if people prefer dogs or cats unless you want a lively debate.”
“These changes might seem small but we’ve found that they can make a big difference to how a team operates, especially when most of us are still working remotely.
And I think that’s key to improving wellbeing – small, sustainable changes that everyone in the team buys into, can adapt to and incorporate into their daily and weekly routines.”
Valuable tips and resources to improve wellbeing when working from home from Mental Health First Aid England