This time last year, when we were all grappling with the enormous impact Covid was having on our personal and professional lives, the PDS Culture and Values Team began working on some guiding principles.
Our starting point was wellbeing – what principles should we try to follow during this massive upheaval to keep us all well?
Since then, things have moved on. People have adapted in different ways, with some colleagues finding benefits from the changed ways of working, and others finding that the isolation or continued stress of Covid was having an impact on morale.
A shift from crisis mode
We felt that the collective mood had shifted from crisis mode to a languishing mode, where many of us felt we had lower energy. So we decided to review the principles to make sure they were still relevant to our current working situation.
The team ran a workshop to explore the relevance of each principle and how colleagues might use them in real life situations. Following this,through a process that included our Senior Management Team, we tweaked the original principles to reflect where we are at now.
Bringing principles to life
We wanted to bring the revised principles to life in a way that a document can’t do. To help colleagues in different types of roles or levels of seniority in PDS see how they could use these principles, we arranged a series of informal drop-in sessions, each focusing on one principle.
The sessions were only 15 minutes long and at the same time each day. A different senior manager and another member of staff led each session and the idea was to speak honestly about their experiences around that principle.
Rebecca Elton, Digital Academy Director, and Rachel Christopher, Head of Communications, focused on this principle during their session:
They shared their experiences of working while dealing with things that don’t usually happen in the workplace, including teaching young children, competing for wi-fi, and new puppies interrupting meetings!
Both spoke candidly about the challenges they’ve faced, and how this principle has highlighted the importance of being kind to ourselves and each other when things don’t go to plan.
Talking honestly in a safe space
Colleagues at the session were encouraged to think about, and re-think what being professional at home during a pandemic actually means and looks like and the expectations we put on ourselves.
The drop-in sessions received great feedback. People found it helpful to hear practical, real-life examples and experiences.
Giving colleagues a space to be honest about the ups and downs of the pandemic has encouraged us to be more empathetic to each other’s situations, and helps keep our PDS community connected as we continue to work apart.