Life under lockdown, keeping ourselves motivated

Written by: Claire Davies
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Like everyone else, we are learning to adapt in these extraordinary times. We thought we would share some of the initiatives we have implemented in Helios to support each other and keep our spirits up as we adjust to working from home and being isolated from work. Could some of these ideas work for you?

At Helios we have a strong collegiate culture and a supportive group of colleagues. Recognising that our strengths are about to be tested, our HR team created a virtual buddy scheme.

"We're looking to ensure that everyone takes care of their mental and physical health, while remaining productive and purposeful as much as is feasible."
Sharon Gregory, HR Director

Buddies are encouraged to catch up online, face-to-face, twice a week, to share the experiences and challenges they've faced working remotely.

Picture of the day is an initiative to help us feel connected on a daily basis. We are taking turns to be nominated to share a picture and a short description on Microsoft Teams, to help kickstart our day. This week's theme has been "in times of constraints, you have to adapt, innovate and improvise". Colleagues have shared pictures of their improvised workspaces/desks. Many of us are adjusting to sharing our workspaces with partners and children (see my current view in the header image above). I'm alternating with my husband between working downstairs where I can keep one eye on my children (home schooling is being rather loosely implemented!), and hiding upstairs in a quieter calmer environment when I need to think and take calls.

(Pictured above: one of our colleagues more sophisticated workspaces!)

It is well documented that exercise supports mental health and productivity. Drawing on his experience gained in the military reserves, senior consultant, Adam Johnson has set up a twice weekly virtual lunchtime exercise class. Adam's passion and enthusiasm for keeping our staff moving has been much appreciated. Even children and partners have joined in!

One of the highlights of normal life at Helios is Monday morning coffee break, with sausage rolls and treats a plenty, provided by our fantastic office coordinators. It's a chance to catch up informally at the beginning of the working week. We are continuing the tradition. Virtual coffee breaks have been speedily slotted into the diary, to give us all the chance to stay in touch at a more personal level.

Another Helios initiative is the lunchtime seminar. Usually these take place around the table with sandwiches and treats (continuing the food theme which is an important part of company life!), but have now moved online. Colleagues are invited to present a piece of recent research or a project they've worked on, and it allows everyone to share in their learning and ask questions. Last week's seminar was Speedsharing! Get to know your colleagues better. We were invited to share a 1-minute single slide on what we've been working on lately, and touching on both personal life and work. It was a simple and fun way to find out more about our colleagues, while raising important awareness of what's going on around the virtual office.

French Fridays is our French conversation group run by Principal Consultant Gary Lloyd, which has continued virtually on Friday lunchtimes – an important initiative for our broader communications as part of the French group Egis. When Boris Johnson announced the closure of pubs and restaurants in the UK, it didn't take long for a virtual ePub to be established on Friday after work. Since we're all in lockdown, it can be hard to socialise but always looking for the positives, technology makes anything possible! Plan ahead, put some cold beers or wine in the fridge for this one.

Many of us enjoy listening to music while working, but one of our team has taken this a step further. Ian Cheung who is based in Brussels actually did a Music degree, and set himself the challenge to post a daily video for 30 days. He's asking for song requests for the musicians charity https://www.helpmusicians.org.uk/ supporting freelance musicians. Colleagues can put forward requests and Ian promises to bring a smile, and lift your soul with his songs.

What we're all experiencing is unprecedented, but it reminds us about the importance of supporting each other on a human level and being flexible and adaptable to changing situations. We are proud of how our staff have rallied and the initiatives they are leading to support and motivate each other. If you have any other ways to help your teams stay connected and productive we would love to hear about them!

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