Preserving the mental health of your creative team
Tricky times. ‘Alternative work arrangements’ has been a topic gathering momentum for a while in our industry (and many others), but the pandemic lockdown we now inhabit has forced companies of all shapes and sizes to reconfigure everything, and fast — team briefings, client meetings, and everything in between.
However, the challenges we face reach further than logistics. In this extraordinarily testing time, how do you preserve the mental health of your creative team?
Although Gravitywell is in the immensely fortunate position of remaining open for business, we conduct this business from disparate, solitary locations. Therefore, we have made a concerted effort to roll with the punches and be proactive in our endeavours to keep mental wellbeing high on our list of priorities. Right now it’s not just about the work — checking in with everyone in terms of how they’re feeling and if anyone can help, or simply being free for a chat, is of the utmost importance. From WhatsApp groups to working hours, here are some of the initiatives we’ve put in place.
Double daily stand-up
We hold stand-ups every morning when we’re in the studio. It’s a highly beneficial use of 5 minutes and definitely a practice worth adopting if you’re not already. When we started working from home, it made sense not only to retain our morning stand-up (Video Conferencing via Discord) but also add an end-of-day iteration — stand down, perhaps? These have been an excellent way to book-end our days and keep abreast of each other’s plans. Unlike regular stand-ups, these post-lockdown virtual versions have had a more laid back feel, providing an opportunity to share any issues or concerns.
Weekly social event
A huge part of our lives that has been put on hold for the foreseeable, socialising must now take place through a screen. This may sound like a Black Mirror episode IRL, but it is of course a necessary health precaution while we get to grips with the current crisis. This has led to fierce debates about the best video conference provider — Zoom and Houseparty seem to be grabbing the headlines — as family members, friendship groups, and work colleagues take the plunge en masse.
At Gravitywell, we’ve kept Friday evenings free for our team happy hour (or two), aptly coined Drunk & Discord-erly by Mat. The awesome text and video chat service is our chosen platform for company comms sober or otherwise, and we highly recommend it for creative teams.
Aside from actual human interaction — that was so Q1 2020 — WhatsApp is probably the most familiar form of keeping up with friends and family. Depending on the size of your team, you might want to consider setting up a group, even if only for the duration of this crisis. If you’re a small team like us, you probably already have one. We share all sorts of stuff — memes, videos, toilet roll expedition success stories etc.
Flexible working hours
There are two types of WFH scenario: one that involves kids, and one that doesn’t. Depending on support available within the home (your partner might be living the furlough dream, for example), being productive within regular working hours may or may not be possible. We have a few dads at Gravitywell, all whose kids are under 5. Mayhem. Introducing full flexibility into when work gets done means that an already stressful situation isn’t exacerbated. Heck, I love writing articles at 4am anyway.
...of others? Yes, but also of yourself. Mindfulness (and physical exercise, beyond the fridge) is being encouraged within our team. Whether you’ve practiced mindfulness before or not, this is the ideal time to give it a go. There are plenty of options out there, from books to online classes, and in this article I look at the effectiveness of apps such as Headspace, Brightmind, and Waking Up.
So there we go, a few examples of how we’re trying to preserve our mental wellbeing at Gravitywell. Hopefully these have been useful, and please share any ideas or initiatives that you’ve applied within your creative team, we’d love to hear from you!