Someone far more insightful than me, Sam our head of finance and operations, suggested back in 2018 that Active Profile became Work Wellbeing Chartered. We did rather well in our audit, with glowing marks across the board for our methods, approaches and communication. I was completely surprised. Why? Because we hadn’t really introduced any new initiatives or spent any money (apart from the audit!), we were just doing what we’d always done, and we got a lovely report and a badge to put on our website. Well done us!
Over the last couple of years, to explicitly give wellbeing the role it deserves at Active Profile, I’m pleased to say we’ve done more. From 121 coaching and wellbeing webinars, to a revamp and roll out of our flexible working arrangements. There’s always fresh fruit in the offices (when we were allowed in, that is) and the odd guided meditation thrown in to kick off our team sessions, but I have to admit, the lockdown situation has hit me both professionally and personally. Never have I cared more about the wellbeing of the people who turn up and give so much for Active Profile, and I’ve never been more acutely aware of my own wellbeing and the impact that has on my family.
These last ten weeks have completely reshaped how I see wellbeing and wellness. With life stripped back to being at home, the news continually communicating the harsh reality of this deadly virus , being in a daily pressure cooker to deliver virtually and not being able to see the people we love, has all put a very different lens on what’s really important. From my own experiences, I’ve realised that wellbeing isn’t a ‘programme’ or a ‘policy’ – far from it.
My first personal discovery was how much I try and ‘fill’ my life. Somewhere along the way, I’ve taught myself that I’m happier when I’m busy. Happier when I’m challenged. Happier when I’m rushing from one thing to the next. But I have a confession, I think I might have been wrong.
Being at home, having more time and less distraction has been liberating and I think I might be more productive as a result. Standing back and looking at what is actually vital has enabled me to focus on what’s really important. That’s meant prioritising better – from considering where my time is best spent to effect the right result for the team or clients, to being around for 30 mins of quality playtime with Louis, my two-year old, who was always in bed when I got home during the week. After work feels like a treat but should it? Note to self – I might actually avail myself of the flexible working policy I encourage everyone else to use going forward into our new working patterns.
I’ve always been a deep breather and if you’re around me for long enough you will generally hear a sigh which doesn’t mean I’m bored, not at all in fact, those deep breaths fuel a reset, or will be me exhaling some anxiety to create space for calm – watch out! So, no surprise I love meditation. I use it most evenings before I go to sleep, and during lockdown over the last few weeks it’s been great to practice meditation together as a team. At first, we weren’t sure it would work over Zoom but after a couple of attempts I’m pleased to say it did! Whilst meditation and mindfulness are personal things, they’ve allowed us to have different conversations, maybe around sleep, around breathing, around what mindfulness is, and share funny stories about what we find works.
A friend and supporter quoted someone wise to us during a webinar a couple of weeks ago, ‘Just because there’s more to do doesn’t mean you’re not doing enough’ and my goodness did I need to hear that. It’s easy to feel that what you’re doing for the team, for clients, for your family is never enough, especially at the moment during lockdown. When Louis’ potty training along with home schooling my seven-year old resembled a carry-on film featuring Tom and Jerry on acid, all the newfound focus I’d gained was simply lost. It was a bad day and cutting us some slack seemed like a kind, wise and inspired thing to do. We’d all got this far and ‘enough’ was going to have to be enough. I didn’t want to go on another family bike ride, I didn’t want to have another evening Zoom call with friends having spent the last eight hours on zoom, I didn’t want to write another campaign plan to launch next week. And that was okay. People understood.
Keeping it up
I don’t want this blog to signal that the last few weeks has been easy for me and that the coronavirus lockdown has healed my sad, busy life. Far from it. It has been the most testing of my career, and I don’t think we’re through the worst of it, there will be more challenges ahead I’m sure and we will be experimenting with new things and ways to cope as we go. But what it has taught me is everyone’s ingredients for work wellbeing are different; how important it is to talk about it explicitly and encourage everyone to explore what’s important to them and keep a close eye when things start to drift.
We also need to remember what works now might not work in the future and that’s okay too. Having access to resources and tools around you, having people who stop and ask if you’re okay and creating opportunities to be kind to people all make having resilience a reality and from there, anything is possible.
To my team, my clients, my friends and my family, thank you.