2020 Annual Report

2 min read

Namastay at home

Story synopsis

  • During the COVID-19 lockdowns we started The Wellbeing Movement - to help our people look after themselves at home.
  • With our weekly virtual timetables made up of a wide range of classes from online yoga to pets' therapy, there was something for eveyone.
  • Our own Ai-Linh, Steve and Shaunel share their stories, and explain how they use their skills to support colleagues during a difficult time.

When the UK went into lockdown, there was no playbook for how to deal with the uncertainty. Naturally our people felt worried about friends and relatives, together with feelings of anxiety and being unsettled. For many of us, simply adding ‘must look after my own wellbeing’ to a to-do list felt overwhelming.

That’s why we started The Wellbeing Movement – a virtual timetable of events, classes and drop-ins updated weekly to help our people look after themselves. Some sessions were delivered by our expert third parties, but most were crowdsourced from our kind, creative, talented community of people.

There was something for everyone. Virtual running clubs, online choirs, language lessons, banana bread masterclasses, kids drawing workshops and bhangra sessions.

Thousands of people engaged with the huge variety of sessions and connected with each other.

Here, three of our people who played a key part of The Wellbeing Movement share their stories. Their creativity and generosity have taught us a lot about the kind of firm we want to be in the future.

Ai-Linh, master of zen

Teaching yoga has been a side hustle for Ai-Linh Tran ever since she completed her training in Melbourne. Five years ago, she moved to the UK and joined our HR team. Alongside work and her personal practice, she taught a class in a central London studio once a week.

Then lockdown happened. When asked if she wanted to teach a session for colleagues on Zoom, it was a big yes. For more than three months, every Friday morning she led a Vinyasa-style class, focused on synchronising sequences of movement with the breath.

“Teaching colleagues was slightly nerve-wracking at the start, but we quickly settled into a student-teacher dynamic,” says Ai-Linh.

“I hosted the sessions from my lounge room, which for London standards is luckily big enough to move around in. I also added a few tweaks like candles and soft music.

“The feedback has been lovely – the chats at the end of the class, the little thank you notes, people joining with their partners… I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to support my colleagues during this tough time.”

Steve, the pet whisperer

Steve Rice, one of our Learning & Development business partners, volunteered to run one of our most popular activities: virtual pet therapy sessions, assisted by his friendly cockapoo Rufus.

“Rufus joined our family after my time in the Army, to support my physical and mental recovery,” says Steve. “I suffered a serious knee injury in an explosion while serving as an infantry officer in Afghanistan, which caused chronic pain and severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“Rufus has been a great help over the past few years – he gives me perspective and reminds me to go for a walk in the park. I thought, why not bring our pets to work to help connect people across the firm who might be feeling lonely or in need of a distraction?”

The sessions were straightforward – take a break from work, join a Zoom call with your pet and have a chat. Lots of people and pets joined over the following months – dogs, cats and this is my lamb! We’ve never seen so many smiles on a conference call…

Shaunel, our tech guru

Shaunel Gounden, an advisor in our learning operations team, had already been doing a lot of work to empower our people to get the most of the technology they use every day. Her drop-in, bite-size learning sessions – she named them Tech Bytes – have helped many discover key features of the technology platforms we use.

When we all started working from home for a longer period of time, Shaunel quickly switched to a virtual format to help people adjust to remote working.

She also launched a special edition all about how to take greater control of our digital wellbeing.

“We're using technology more than ever to do our work, entertain ourselves and keep in touch with our loved ones. But that much screen time can have a detrimental effect on our wellbeing,” says Shaunel.

“The sessions are just 15 minutes long and cover everything from mailbox stress and Zoom fatigue to managing notifications and eye health.”

The numbers say it all. She’s helped over 3,000 colleagues have a more positive relationship with technology during lockdown.

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