As home working becomes less a novelty and more the day-to-day reality, we need to find new way to keep motivation and wellness up amongst the workforce. The lack of physical interaction and the social element of work due to isolation and social distancing are not to be belittled - the psychological impact of this is well documented. Community is one of the pillars of personal wellbeing. Colleagues make up a large part of our community for many of us. So how can we retain a semblance of this in the new landscape and thus aid wellbeing for home working?
Haider Iman, Founder and Director of Tao Leadership, a startup behaviour change consultancy has been giving his input. Haider has been experimenting with his team on ways to make remote working extra human. Rather than write about finding a comfortable working environment or taking regular breaks etc, he shares his thoughts with us on the HOW of remote work.
This is the second of 2 posts. In the first blog we explored some apps and tools that enable productive home working by maintaining the flow of communication. In this part, we will explore creatives ways this software can be used to encourage full team engagement and safeguard their wellbeing by embracing their 'whole selves' and not just their 'work selves'.
Ways to Maintain Wellbeing for Home Working
In addition to facilitating home working, the team connectivity apps can be used to foster team ethos and social connectedness at a distance. Tao Leadership have been experimenting and here are their suggestions...
Slack can be your team's own social network. It works through channels, chosen by you, which group together like content. Through channels you can have both serious work conversations and also dedicated areas where things are a little more lighthearted.
You can get creative and play games. "Using Sketchtogether & Slack we can set up a quick game of Hangman on a live shared whiteboard to keep some craic going + have a social break (11am & 3pm work well). It has video & audio but we’re setting up an audio call via Slack for the whole team. Only those who fancy playing pick up. Pictionary, anyone?"
The wellbeing properties of having a pet are well known and sharing insights on your furry friend with your colleagues on virtual platforms can still have benefits. "Having a PETS channel on Slack is a great one for positive emotions, which leads to better physical & mental health."
"We’re also keeping the informal learns going with channels dedicated to cool new thinking and have a #random Slack channel for all things fun & irreverent :)"
Haider also orchestrates 'extra-curricular' activities for his staff: "Every Friday we’re having 45 min lunch & learn sessions over Zoom. Just bring your lunch. We have Blockchain this week, Quantum Physics next week, Improv the week after etc. And we’ll record the session on Zoom & upload it to our Lunch & Learn channel on Slack for anyone that missed it.
"Monday 4.45pm we’re having optional poetry appreciation (bring a poem & share it) or drawing classes (my better half can teach) via Zoom.
"Studies show that appreciating other jobs, thinking styles, art forms, etc can increase your results at work. And it allows us to be human with each other."
Mental Health Focus
Haider has a dedicated focus on wellbeing for home working, tackling it head on."We have a well being channel with some breathing exercises, well being articles, and ‘just-in-time’ info in case the work day gets a bit much. It’s become even more important now."
"To keep us grounded in turbulent times & feel connected we offer daily communal meditation using Zoom & Calm. At 9am I set up a zoom meeting, select screen share & play the ‘Daily Calm’ 10-min meditation via Calm. Anyone who wanted to join could, and they muted audio / switched off video. There's a rule of no talking before or after. When the meditation finishes, we hang up."
Tao also embrace the power of movement:"Luckily, we have a yoga teacher in the team to run a live yoga session over Zoom. But if we didn’t we’d find a yoga video on YouTube, start a Zoom meeting & screen share the video so we can all join in."
Even with a provision for mental wellbeing in place, as the landscape has changed so vastly so quickly some people may need reassurance. "It’s even more important to keep our recognition game strong. When people might be feeling more isolated & vulnerable. We’re using Disco to link into Slack and power this online. And, of course, we’re also doing this by Zoom and phone (the old-fashioned way)."
Keep a lid on negativity
The current pandemic is a source of anxiety for many, fuelled by worry over uncertainty and for the health of vulnerable loved ones. Consequently, not everyone wants to talk about it but you can't ignore it either. "A team member who’s also a psychotherapist suggested we quarantine any talk of / reference to COVID-19 to one place & ban it from general chat in Slack. Seeing it everywhere in the media and at work can be anxiety-inducing for some. So we created a channel for it. Everyone is subscribed to it but can type /mute into that Slack channel to not see new posts or /leave to leave the channel."
These solutions for wellbeing for home working are mostly optional, but Haider leads from the front and staff are actively encouraged to participate.
Virtual lunch together
Online cooking lessons
Lunch and Learns
Exercises throughout the day
Run a daily HIT session
Games & Activities -
Do remote Duet singing - (via an App)
Do a painting with someone (via an App)
Set mini challenges
Sit up sessions
Surprise gift packages
Play online together
Joke of the day via video
Lil' Bits -
Have a set up outside in the sun
A work 'radio station'/DJ of the day (via Spotify and JQBX)
Take advantage of having less distractions - deep dive work
Each to have a theme song in the background
Wellbeing for Home Working - In summary
"The keys so far seem to be (not to say we’ve nailed it yet by any means) are
Leadership As a leader, you have to fight to create an environment rich in engagement, wellbeing, belonging & performance & role-model it first. It doesn’t happen by itself.
Co-creation Get your team to come up with the ideas, to invest emotionally in them.
Agency No one likes forced fun - make it all optional and still encourage your team members.
I hope some of the above is useful to you in these weird times. Good luck."
More about Haider
Haider Iman is Founder and Director of Tao Leadership, a startup behaviour change consultancy. Tao leads its field with a fusion of analytics, tech & psychology for cultural transformation in just 12 weeks. Tao’s behaviour change programmes have won international awards for clients such as Sky, Accenture, Boston Consulting Group, Npower, and Domestic & General and generated more than £50 million in client-measured ROI in the last two years alone. Though Tao is a micro-enterprise with just ten employees, it has twice been runner up in the CIPD’s ‘Best Consultancy’ category, winning over global firms with thousands of employees. Find out more at TeamTao.uk. Author of the bestselling book, ‘Straight to Yes!’ Haider is also a former UK Sales Trainer of the Year, Systemic Team Coach, NLP Trainer, musician, & Geordie.