Posted by Jordana Anderson

Posted 29 May, 2020 OBI BLOG

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week, with a focus on the power and potential of kindness. A small act of kindness can be the antidote to shifting a negative feeling, or simply making a person feel connected.

COVID-19 has not only restructured our work strategies but our everyday lives. The transition from shoes to slippers was rather liberating at the beginning, but as the lockdown continues and the uncertainty of not knowing how much longer remote working will last, it is important to check in with our colleagues, family and friends regularly.

British writer, Damian Barr shared a powerful quote on Twitter in April, “We are not in the same boat. We are in the same storm.” OBI understands this and recognises that the problems and struggles each of us are facing are complex and personal to each member of the team. We have collectively worked hard to support one another, understand each other’s circumstances as much as possible and pulled together to help each other through the up’s and downs.

For some, working from home has been a positive journey but many of us face uncontrollable challenges, such as juggling family life with work, not having the correct home-office space or being unable to ask family for support due to social distancing.

Although we can’t fully control some of these issues, we can focus on building our working-from-home support network by using Microsoft Teams, Zoom and WhatsApp groups to constantly keep connected and try to understand if people are feeling stressed, anxious or lonely.

One of the main issues people seem to be struggling with, are the boundaries between home and work life and if we don’t rebalance the demands we have, we may lose our different identities which can lead to burnout, therefore we all need to be able to check out mentally from time to time.

OBI has been taking every opportunity to connect and keep the social interaction strong – be it through virtual team drinks on a Friday afternoon, creating shared playlists on Spotify or boosting motivation through exercise with online group Pilates and personal training sessions. We are constantly thinking of innovative ways to engage as a team and have been sticking together to ensure morale is maintained.

The Mental Health Foundation have been running Mental Health Awareness week since 2001, aiming to raise awareness, inspire action and promote the message of good mental health for all. Not being physically present in the same working environment right now means we need to encourage conversation on mental health and employee wellbeing more than ever.

No one is certain when the return to work will happen or how the workplace will evolve post COVID-19. Whilst everyone has suffered challenging times over the last couple of months, one thing we are sure of is that the health crisis has brought the team at OBI together and we all have someone to reach out to if things get tough.