What I learned attending “Live Well at Velo”, our latest staff well-being event
On Monday 6th December, we hosted a “Live Well at Velo” event for our team, focused on well-being.
Bringing together three expert speakers in a combination of face-to-face, virtual and interactive sessions, our team gathered off-site to spend some dedicated time focused on them as individuals.
As an MD of a professional services firm with a diverse workforce working remotely for a significant part of the last 18 months, I’ve tried to educate myself about all things employee well-being.
I’ve read, listened and watched advice all about nutrition, exercise, anxiety management, taking breaks, the challenges of working through a screen, and more, but what I’ve often struggled with is pulling all the different elements together into a coherent plan for me. Judging by the reception from the team, I’m not the only one.
Running an agency, I am very aware that our industry can be stressful, particularly at busier times of the year. I believe that Velo should operate in ways in which our team can make good decisions for their well-being efforts.
So in this post, I wanted to pull together some of the ideas we shared during Live Well and things we have in practice. This is especially important if you look to join us in 2022 as you’ll get a real feel for the environment you’re entering into.
Better resource planning prevents intense periods
Over the years, we’ve noticed that our team can throw themselves into doing more and more in busy times, taking on responsibility for more and more work and lifting the pace.
As a result, we’ve invested heavily in better, longer term capacity planning using tools like Float alongside an in-house recruitment function so we can plan as much as possible and avoid overwork. This means we always have qualified experts in place to do the work and always honour our client promises to deliver to quality. In addition, having established methodologies means that our team can help each other in times of need. Through this, we actively avoid those intense periods.
Keeping things in perspective
The work we do is essential, value-creating, and makes significant differences to the success rates of large organisations. But it is not brain surgery, and we are not making life or death decisions.
As a result, we’re committed to encouraging a sense of perspective and have shared with our team a number of ways to do this. This means we are getting better at client service and are more able to find appropriate solutions when needed in those anxiety inducing moments when something unexpected happens.
The all nighter should never be needed
For some, the idea of working in an agency conjures up visions of “pulling all-nighters.” I have always said that I think this entire premise is out of date and is a form of abuse. Working late into the evening on a regular basis is also a sign of poor project management.
There is no reason why, with a little forward planning and good communication that this should ever need to happen.
Setting boundaries for a rested mind
With Whatsapp, instant message, email, collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams and more, it is easy to be always-on, and this really means being never off. We know that team members need to use these services but we are clear about boundaries, and this means having no expectation to be reachable outside of working times. We’re particularly clear about this when people are on holiday.
When you are out of the office, you should be out of the office.
We pride ourselves on being responsive, but at the same time, as a UK-based organisation, we commit to reasonable working hours and do not expect our team to continuously work beyond these boundaries. Again, this comes down to good project and time management.
The other side of setting boundaries is in supporting those team members who may need to adjust their hours to allow for childcare, to study, to volunteer or other commitments which is a policy we have embraced with open arms.
Managing meetings to ensure breaks
As we make preparations to return to a fully remote working model (December 2021) we need to make sure that days full of Google Meet, Zoom, Teams and Skype sessions are carefully managed.
In our experience the longest meetings can be concluded in 45 minutes allowing time for a break, particularly as this supports you getting food and drink or some time outside before starting the next meeting even if they are that tightly bunched. The default habit however is to make every meeting a multiple of an hour or 30 mins when a quick phone conversation could be a better option, and we’ve noticed that every meeting stretches into the time you allocate for it.
We’re fortunate that we have an office with a separate social area. When in the office, the team is encouraged to take some time together to socialise and break away from their desk. Even from home, we’re continuously encouraging the team to take breaks.
This is simple but powerful.
Improving nutrition for higher energy levels
What you eat and when you eat it, is a personal decision. But one of the major benefits of the Live Well session was some quick and healthy menu ideas which are now available to all, as well as bringing home how important eating/drinking regularly is. It is easy to become “too busy for lunch”, but this can be damaging leaving to fluctuating energy levels or a reliance on caffeine to get through. It can interrupt sleep patterns too, leading to further tiredness and a vicious circle.
We’re encouraging our team to explore nutrition and how eating the right foods at the right time can make such a difference to your day.
Fortunately, we already provide fresh fruit and are blessed by having an office in the heart of London SE1 with many cafes and restaurants catering for all tastes.
We think that what you eat, drink and when, is a matter of individual choice, but the education provided through dedicated events such as Live Well at Velo has a genuine part to play in helping individual team members make decisions that are better for them.
As an employer, we’re very much at the start of our well-being journey.
We’ve learned that we need to know much more as a team and as individuals, but good intentions become real when a simple change in life happens.
We’re committed to helping our team understand well-being more and to creating the occasions and choices to make better decisions for themselves. We’re about removing triggers and creating positive pathways.
Our policies and efforts will evolve as we learn more.
If you fancy being part of that journey, click here to see our open roles.
Want to find out more about how Live Well by Velo and our events team function could help you get more from your team? Read more here.