Lockdown Team Blog - Series 2: Ben Higham

01 April 2021

3 minutes to read.

Last year, our teams produced a series of blogs written by colleagues across multiple divisions of the company. They provided a small insight into our evolving working practices and values as we all adjusted to our new post-COVID19 world. Now we're back with our second series!

Here is the thirteenth in our 2nd series of posts from our Internal Communications Officer, Ben Higham 


"Focusing on the things that matter

I remember just over a year ago now, COVID and lockdown had moved from the periphery of news coverage to the main headlines and there was almost an air of excitement at the prospect of working from home for a few weeks.

Fast forward 12 strange (and long) months later, and I am writing this blog from my kitchen table-come-home office!

It has been a yo-yo year of lockdowns and then easing of restrictions however there has been plenty of positives to take away – most notably the emphasis of focusing the things that matter.


New ways of communicating

We were able to adapt to a ‘Working from Home’ setup literally overnight due to our fantastic IT team. This was a new experience for everybody that brought with it potential issues but also opportunities for us to improve the way we do things:

  • Resources – Whilst we are all in the same storm we are not necessarily in the same boat. Throughout the pandemic we have created and curated guides for our colleagues from tips on how to plan your day right through to long-term good mental health, aided by the introduction of our fully trained ‘Wellbeing Champions’.
  • Newsletter – Communication is key according to our annual surveys. We swapped our quarterly print magazine for a fortnightly online newsletter and introduced a Weekly CEO Update, receiving fantastic feedback on both.
  • Intranet – It’s a more vital time than ever to help colleagues maintain their productivity but also maintain engagement with the business and their colleagues. We improved our intranet in the best way that we could to become the ultimate central hub of information. We realised it was too outdated for an agile working world so that’s why we have invested in a new bespoke system to bring the business together like never before.

Small, simple changes have allowed us to break new ground when it comes to communicating with our people. We’ll now take these new ways of engaging and communicating into our ‘new normal’ upon our return to the office – of which I’m sure we are all looking forward to. It is now safe to say that the novelty of working from home has well and truly worn off!


Charity & Fundraising

Charity is a big part of what we do and unfortunately one of the hardest sectors hit by the pandemic. Private and public funding cuts have resulted in uncertainty across the industry at a time when charities are needed more than ever, especially those alleviating pressures on the NHS.

Times have changed and we’ve moved on from traditional ways of fundraising. It’s now time to get creative, as those funds could be more vital now than ever before:

  • Food Banks – The Trussell Trust reports that Food Bank use has increased 74% over the past 5 years. We have thrown our support behind the ‘Right to Food’ campaign, continued to partner with local charities who are making a huge difference in our communities. We have also used virtual collections and our business resources where possible, including assisting with transport and donating our office fruit to FareShare. Small contributions add up to big change.
  • Around the World Challenge – We challenged 9 of our partners to race around the world virtually with the highest travelling team taking top spot and raising thousands for NHS Charities.
  • Last One Standing & Raffles – We have found that by hosting challenges, games and virtual events for people to participate in; offering a prize for the winner, is a great way to incentivise people to support a charity. Not only that, but it’s also a great way to get people involved and to boost morale in the workplace at a time when it’s needed most. Last One Standing is based on predicting Premier League matches and can be played all year round, potentially raising thousands.


Looking towards the future

The victors of this experience will be the ones who are able to take everything they have learned and apply it to our new future. COVID/Lockdown has taught me many things; unpredictability and the need to be agile, the importance of being more accepting and finding your balance, but most importantly the importance of maintaining my own positive mental health and doing what I can to appreciate and lift others around me.

Whilst we can’t control everything that is going on around us, we can take steps to make small changes in our lives that can result in big differences. I first described lockdown as a ‘big pause button’, but now my outlook has completely changed. The ‘pause’ from the rush of normal life has inspired me to rediscover avocations such as yoga, reading and baking, and finally given me the time to explore new passions such as painting, learning and DIY (outside of building flat-pack IKEA furniture!)

It is almost impossible to come out of this experience with a complete positive mentality but that’s why it is important to focus on the things that matter; whether that be at work, with your family and friends or most importantly: self-care and happiness."