Keeping mental health front of mind

May 11th, 2020

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This week, we’re delighted to have achieved Gold in Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index, ranking in fourth place out of a total of 103 companies surveyed. The mental health of our employees is even more vital than ever at this time. Here our Office Manager Kim Lewin explains how she helps support our team, making sure that mental health is front of mind even when remote.

As an Office Manager, going into lockdown was frightening. As I returned home with the office plants in tow, I wondered what would happen to my role and panicked about being put on furlough for my own sanity. But I soon discovered there was a lot for me to do. Whether it's maintaining a social culture, gathering content for our team meetings or arranging care packages and stationery orders, my workload hasn’t slowed down—it has simply shifted. And while I don’t have an office to tend to, I do still have a community of people to look after.

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Positivity is a must

Office Managers generally are resilient, resourceful and positive—and positivity is the only thing I’m encouraging people to spread right now. Every morning, I post something on our company Slack channel. This could be anything from a puzzle to a cool app people are using to stay in touch. I try to keep it varied so there’s something for everyone. If one morning’s post is an online fitness class, I’ll balance it out with a recipe for an at home takeaway the next day.

What is a routine these days?

With our work revolving around a screen, we’ve been actively encouraging everyone to take regular breaks. Go make that cup of tea, walk the dog, feed your children or work out! We’ve implemented a meeting block between the hours of midday and 2pm so everyone can take their lunch hour without navigating a packed schedule of calls. We’re also encouraging our staff to continue taking annual leave. With such a faint line between work and non-work time, we have to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves and fully resting. A few days of “holistay” can do a world of good.

Keep it fun

Our culture is created by the fun, positive and witty characters that make up the London studio. So, naturally, our Friday company meetings now require a costume, wig or hat. Snoopy even made an appearance at one of our meetings. Now I’m not saying that our Creative Director is Snoopy, but I’ve never seen the two of them in the same room! If people go off on a tangent in a company meeting, we let the conversation happen. It’s important to remember we are all missing our usual daily interactions. 

Check in with yourself

With our commute out of the picture, we have some more time on our hands—and we can use that to take care of ourselves both physically and mentally. It’s important that we all find something that fits us in keeping our minds busy. We’ve seen an influx of at home workouts and online yoga sessions, but it could be anything from baking to puzzles. Before lockdown, my role was to look after our people and keep our studio ticking. This hasn’t changed. I’ve just had to be a little more creative in finding ways to do so. 

I like to think if I’ve made at least one other person smile a day then it’s a job well done. So you’ll find me over on TikTok creating content for our meetings by lip-syncing videos and teaching my dogs to hurdle or dressing up as Bingo Betty to host a virtual bingo night. 

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We make sure to remind our employees of our mental health first aiders, who they can reach out to, but you don’t need to be a mental health first aider to support someone. If you’ve noticed someone is not as chatty or engaged as usual, reach out and let them know you’re there to talk.

And crucially, we’re reminding our team that it’s ok to struggle right now. It’s to be expected, and we’ll do our best to help where we can. Our organisation has successfully embedded mental health into its policies and practices, utilising a variety of best practice approaches and demonstrating a long-term, in-depth commitment to staff mental health. Already having these structures in place has been a huge help in supporting our transition to remote working—and it’s helped us become the only agency from our sector to achieve gold in the Mind Workplace Wellbeing Index.

Top tips for staying positive

  • Monitor your news intake - I keep up to date by reading the news for 30 minutes each morning from sources I trust, avoiding sensationalised, clickbait reporting. And I listen to a great disco playlist while I do it.
  • Stay in touch - We make sure to hear from different people in company updates. We share things from project successes to what we’ve been up to over the weekend. It’s refreshing to see different faces presenting each time.
  • Share your resources - We’re having to get creative about how we fill our time at home. There’s lots of resources online to help. On Facebook, I found some top homeschooling tips from friends with kids and some awesome virtual museums which I shared with my more cultured friends!
  • Focus on the silver linings - Have you noticed clearer skies when on your daily walk? Less litter on the streets? Our lockdown lifestyle changes are having a dramatic impact on carbon emissions.

My biggest takeaway from this situation is that the demand for post it notes will never change. Jokes aside, it has highlighted some elements of my job that weren’t as obvious when so much of my time was spent ordering Sharpies and snacks. When it comes to my role, the clue’s in the name: I look after the office. But I look after the people in the office just as much, which has made it possible for me to do my job outside of our four walls.

The Mind Workplace Wellbeing Index was launched in 2016. This year’s index surveyed more than 54,000 employees across the 103 employers. Mind’s Gold award is given to employers who have successfully embedded mental health into their policies and practices, demonstrating a long-term and in-depth commitment to staff mental health. This year Beyond was ranked 4th overall out of the 103 companies surveyed.