The power of learning together through difficult times

Posted
23/03/2020
Learning together and making choices through corona virus times
Signpost

Well these times are certainly highlighting the importance of community. As part of the RAW Network I co-manage with Oasis Human Relations, we set up a fortnightly zoom call for all members to connect and share what they’re deciding and learning with regards to their organisations response to corona virus.

We had a vibrant, humbling and supportive first call last week and we agreed it would be helpful to share what we’re learning with a wider community, we hope these insights help you and your organisation to locate yourselves more smoothly. This article includes a summary of the themes emerging from our call as well as the questions we’re carrying.

As holder of the call, I was left feeling very grateful for our community and the work we’re all committed to around creating great places to work. It certainly puts us in a more robust position to help ourselves, each other and those around us as well as other communities.

If you have other ideas or indeed questions you want to add to the conversation please drop a comment below.

Giving space to check in on an individual level:

On our call we had representation from organisations involved in retail, manufacturing, hospitality and professional services. With significant impact to retail and hospitality who are having to close early, there was a real sense of the new territory we find ourselves in and the questions which emerge. We had a shared sense of how we are in fact learning together.

There were a variety of emotions across the group and interchanging with ever changing news.

Emotions varied from denial, ambivalence, to deep consideration, acceptance and even excitement. There was a shared sense of reassurance that we came together to connect and share with each other what was emerging.  After doing a longer personal check in to pay attention to where each of us were on an individual level with our thoughts feelings and concerns, we shared the approach and concerns each organisation is carrying.

Different organisational approaches:

Lise (from Oasis) shared that Oasis are following government guidance and taking a globally responsible approach, ‘committed to doing as much as we can, as soon as we are able, for as long as it takes.’

There was a shared sense for those people who were able to work from home that technology really does come into it’s own now, and a general concern for whether their IT services could handle the extra pressure and different conditions.

How do we keep the community feeling or our teams and culture when people are not physically connecting, a real concern particularly for tight knit teams.

Amongst the anxiety and concerns there was also excitement among the group. These forced ways of working offer an opportunity to prove that a new rhetoric can be created about presenteeism and flexibility and liberate staff into innovative new cultures that support wellbeing, offer flexibility and still enable organisations and individuals to thrive. Through disruption comes creativity.

One member (whose team have all moved to home working), had the excellent idea to set up a daily virtual coffee morning as a way of ensuring everyone has the chance to connect and check in if they need it.

Key concerns emerging from our conversation:

·     Working from home – managing wellbeing when working from home and how to manage expectations about availability and hours

·     How maintain positivity especially into the long term if this turns out to be a marathon not a sprint

·     How take an adult, empowered approach so we don’t fall into parenting and taking unhealthy responsibility for others, but still offering our care and support

·     Will these times change the perspective on presenteeism globally and introduce an opportunity for new ways of working more permanently?

·     What sectors, industries and skills set to benefit the most from these changes?

·     How can we support wellbeing when working remotely and from home?

·     If someone is directly affected (through illness or death of a loved one) what employee assistance do we have in place and how do we support them?

·     Longer term, there will be difficult conversations to be had about laying off staff, reducing hours, how do we face into those difficult conversations?

·     How do you operate when there is more worry in the world collectively? And the grief that will surely follow…

·     How do we make best use of the technology in order to communicate with each other?

·     How do we keep going if this ends up being worst case, lock down and for months? Cultivating longer term resilience

·     How do we help our people to cultivate the skills to deal with change?

The chance for opportunity:

·     Increase in gratitude for the simplicity of life (as it was)

·     Possibility for really cool innovation and creativity

·     Different ways of working

·     New technologies

·     A more adult empowered conversation across many aspects of life, raising consciousness

·     More power to communities and togetherness, rather than difference and segregation

Next steps within and outside of the community:

1. We have committed as a working group to ‘virtually meet’ fortnightly with our RAW members to share more of what we’re learning and what questions are emerging. If you are an organisation and want to get involved in the RAW network and join that conversation please email Lise@oasishumanrelations.org.uk

2.    We will be offering a free webinar to RAW members and beyond outlining our whole person approach to employee wellbeing and putting a ‘working from home’ spin on it – more details to follow

3.    Oasis will shortly be making public a hub of resources gathered from across their 30+ years helping leaders organisations and individuals to navigate change and uncertainty and at the same cultivate greater freedom through better relationships. There is much to learn and get up to speed and we want to be in service as best we can.

As always, we are here to support, inspire and collaborate, so please do reach out if we can be of service to you or your organisation.

Jennifer Potter

Associate

Highly experienced coach, consultant, and wellness expert offering an integrated approach to wellbeing at work