Mindworks – We’re only ever as strong as our people
Up to early 2020, our 32-strong team of co-owners at MindWorks Marketing were working together in our spacious purpose-built workplace at Emsworth harbour. Then the lives of people around the world were turned upside down, and we had to get comfortable in makeshift offices in our kitchens, bedrooms and even hallways.
We knew that much of our time was going to be taken up with trying to look after ourselves and others so our top priority from the start was our colleagues’ wellbeing.
Supporting each other’s wellbeing at MindWorks has always meant regularly checking in with our workmates and encouraging conversations around our own mental health.
This past 18 months we’ve all kept looking out for each other, even if that’s just been over a virtual cuppa. During this time, Michelle Leggatt, Managing Director, also took to her car and drove two 10-hour 240-mile round trips to deliver MindWorks Birthday goody bags and Christmas hampers in person to colleagues. She says, “I felt it was incredibly important to see everyone ‘in the flesh’ so that I could look them in the eye and make sure they really were OK and coping.”
With mental health charity Mind reporting that over 60% of adults and young people felt their mental health had been adversely impacted during the pandemic, this year’s World Mental Health Week was perhaps our most important one yet. We marked it with a digital competition for colleagues to show and tell what calmed them most in nature (with Amazon vouchers up for grabs).
Supporting collaboration and teamwork.
The sudden switch to remote working rapidly accelerated the pace of digital transformational change. Our development team created sophisticated user-friendly systems that allowed us to connect with colleagues, clients, suppliers and stakeholders in ways that we had never been able to do before, deepening our relationships with each other along the way.
We created support guides on how to look after ourselves and get the most out of working from home, with customised versions rolled out to help clients and their employees.
Tools such as MindKeep, a daily snapshot of everything MindWorks; MindNews, a weekly round-up of activities (including furloughed colleagues – during the first lockdown we operated a 3-week on/3-week off rota and launched a Furloughed Friends WhatsApp group); weekly, rather than monthly, meetings to share business news, finances and work; virtual pub club (cocktail masterclasses, quizzes and scavenger hunts); MindWorks Makes workshops (the macramé session launched a colleague’s Etsy business!); Wellbeing Workshop with live meditation; regular welfare calls, anonymous wellbeing surveys; Employee Rep drop-in sessions, Colleague Welfare board meetings, EAP helpline and 1-2-1 meetings when needed – all helped us to stay positive and informed.
The pandemic has given us the chance to flex our workplace.
For the first few months, the shock of the new meant that it was all too easy to long for a return to ‘normal’. But while we knew it was important to tell ourselves that the pandemic wasn’t going to last for ever, we knew that taking a blended approach to work was probably here to stay, with remote working and flexibility forming an important part of that. We have taken a ‘Build Back Better’ approach, refreshing our working model and workspace to support a healthy life balance and progress our business practices.
We set up a Return to Office Group to look at ways of shaping our future workspace, including a ‘Future Office Prize Competition’. Everything was up for grabs, from simply changing the word ‘office’, to blue sky thinking on how we work down the line. And when we all gather together for the first time for this year’s EO Day celebrations, many of these ideas will have been brought to life.
The power of simply saying thank you.
One of the reasons we all love our jobs is the relationship we have with our colleagues and it’s been proven that being recognised and appreciated is a direct contributor to motivation and productivity.
We created MindThanks, a workplace peer-to-peer recognition platform, to provide a fast, fun and meaningful way for people to say thank you and give a virtual ‘High Five’ for a job well done, help on a project, or just for being a friendly sounding board.
This morale-boosting platform has proved to be a powerful tool in the employee engagement toolbox for us and for clients using it, particularly as split site or remote working has increased. Clients have reported back to us how moved their team members have been to receive sincere feedback from people they work with and its positive impact on their organisation.
Being EO – a sense of belonging.
More than ever before, this has been a time for reflecting on how much we appreciate the real partnership we enjoy as an EO company. With everyone having a key stake in making innovative strategic business decisions to move the company forward, we are all able to benefit collectively from our success.
Although we spent much of last year trying to find enough midnight oil to deal with a constantly changing business landscape, 2021 has begun with our best six months in three years. A strong digital presence for businesses was important pre-pandemic, but evolving this has been at the core of our success – from mobile app development, through to content production, eCommerce, social media management and engagement, high performance PPC and email marketing. The result is a number of new client wins for the agency, ambitious plans for expansion over the next year and a warm welcome to three new talented colleagues.
So who better to comment than our newest team member, Lauren, who joined us to fulfil her dream of utilising her marketing degree after working for two years in HR: “Although I started by working much of the time from home, the whole team was so welcoming. Being an employee owned agency means there is such a positive healthy working culture here and allows for a real creative buzz.”
During 18 months of trying to balance life, family commitments, work, unreliable WiFi, homeschooling, and some bleak days for many of us, there have been magical moments worth celebrating. From fitness to baking, gardening and community spirit, we have had opportunities to make positive changes in our personal lives and surprised ourselves with what we have managed to face with courage and humour. At work, it’s been about collaboration, creativity, innovation and pulling together through the tough times and the good.
With many of us more connected to nature for our wellbeing than ever before, even if it’s been just a quick lockdown walk in our local park, our workplace is now greener, literally and ecologically. We’re marking World Environment Day 2021 by launching further initiatives to further minimise our carbon footprint, with incentive programmes for colleagues undertaking environmental initiatives in the office and at home.
Perhaps the most important thing this time has taught us is how much we cherish that sense of belonging and being part of the community. As committed advocates for EO and the #BuildBackBetter approach, we look forward to a working future that brings more happiness, freedom and health for all of us.