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Why staying connected is more important now, than ever.

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When I started building Redspire’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Roadmap last year, I had no idea that a global pandemic would soon be changing the world of work for us all. Nor did I realise that we’d have a brand new challenge to overcome, in making sure our teams are safe and well, mentally and physically, thanks to coronavirus.

Employee health and wellbeing is super important at Redspire and our partners at Microsoft. Straddling technology and Financial Services, we’ve always been mindful that our teams operate in high pressure environments on detail-orientated projects. Prior to Covid-19, many of our consultants were on the road with clients. Lots of us travelled to and from Glasgow, London and other financial hubs to collaborate on solution and software project design and ideation. It can be an intense process bringing these transformation projects to life. So mental health protection and peer support was, and still is, very important to us.

Staying connected during flexible working

As part of our commitment to our employees wellbeing, we tentatively launched new flexible Work from Home policies in 2019. I didn’t realize then, just how meaningful our overarching goal of ‘staying connected’ would be in 2020. Nor did I realise that as a business, we’d taken that leap to flexible working just at the right time to embed the kind of processes that would help us transition to a fully remote team. I’m incredibly glad we did.

Whilst we got slightly ahead of the curve however, it’s important to acknowledge just how challenging working from home has been for many people – not just in our business but across the globe. There’s huge benefits of course.  More family time, reduced commute and staying safe from the virus for example. However, maintaining mentally healthy habits whilst working from home feels like something we need to work hard at, daily. It’s all too easy to fall into habits that blur the lines of work and home. Answering emails over dinner, working alone, not taking breaks and just generally not switching off.

Achieving work life balance 

With that in mind, staying connected has become even more important to Redspire as a business. This takes many forms. Staying connected with each other during our working day. Making time for virtual coffee breaks and collaboration with team mates. Staying connected socially and checking in on each other too. We’ve introduced hobbies groups and a buddy / mentor system, as well as larger group hubs. Managers are embedding new ways to stay connected to direct reports and their teams each week, making sure positive working relationships can continue.

Just as importantly, we’re encouraging our teams to stay connected to their own thoughts and feelings, as well as ensuring they prioritise their downtime to stay connected to friends and family during these tough times. The former we’re helping with, in the shape of mindfulness in the workplace sessions, coupled with mental first aid training and peer accreditations too. We see this as a huge benefit to the individuals taking part but also to our team’s ability to look out for one another in the form of emotional check-ins, encouraging each other to take regular breaks and knowing how to prompt one-to-one conversations if they have concerns about each other.

A health and wellbeing toolkit

When it comes to health and wellbeing, we’re conscious that one size doesn’t fit all. So back in 2019 as I was designing our Health and Wellbeing roadmap, I wanted it to include a wide range of touchpoints for people. After all, we’re all on different journeys. The first step was surveying the teams to make sure everyone’s needs were met. The responses were as diverse as our people are. For example, some people enjoy direct line manager support, whereas some prefer to talk to HR or an external counsellor. Many prefer signposting to resources to self-manage matters.

Holistic Employee Assistance and Support

We’ve also launched a new support package that gives our teams a range of support, in the form of counselling, financial programmes, health and wellbeing, access to CBT and more for their friends and family. There programme is constantly updating with relevant health and wellness webinars, workshops and other resources on how to prioritise your day for example whilst working from home. We’re very keen not to replace a service with a system, however. So the package complements our on-going programmes that are constantly evolving.

Microsoft’s Insights to support

As we head into winter, Microsoft’s Wellbeing insights will help us all get through what’s likely to be a little tricky for us all. We must ensure we stay connected and look out for each other. Personal MyAnalytics – that only users see – will tell individuals if they’re spending too much time working, or not having any quiet, focus days and send them prompts to do so. We’ve already seen our teams take positive action on these prompts in recent months.

Just launched this month, individuals, managers, and leaders will also get insights and recommended actions to achieve a better day, a better week, and a better experience for themselves, their teams, and their organisations. Powered by Microsoft Graph and backed by trusted privacy safeguards, these capabilities put the opportunity for change into the hands of everyone in the organization.

Personally, I’m looking forward to using and learning about the productivity tools, as well options to bring in a level of normality like the virtual commute and tea breaks. I’m also very excited about the partnership with Headspace, making it available directly through Microsoft Teams.

Be kind to each other

Kindness, as I mentioned in my previous blog, is something I am passionate about. It can make the biggest difference to someone who might not be feeling their best. But it’s important to also be kind to yourself. Meditation and mindfulness with tools like Headspace allows people to take a breath and focus on the now.

In these unprecedented times, and given that our whole lives are now ‘at home’, we can feel like we need to be ‘always on.’

Ideally over the coming months, we can bring together our focus on wellbeing with Microsoft’s tools, to balance work and life a little better.

Staying positive in the months ahead

Over the next month, our executive team are looking at some interesting ways to bring our Christmas Party to life virtually. Look out for my next piece on our ideas on supporting teams over Christmas and new year and how we are boosting company morale.

Let’s look out for each other – and ourselves – in the months ahead and nurture positivity and staying connected wherever we can. It’s the only way through tough times.

Connect with Kristine as she shares more on Redspire’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Roadmap over the months ahead. Redspire are currently recruiting, visit the website or connect on LinkedIn to find out more.