The Mindful Business Charter (MBC) provides a framework for organizations that want to promote better mental wellness in the workplace by developing a code of conduct that helps teams support each other and their clients in a more conscious and respectful way. The goal is to create a happier and more resilient workplace, keeping in mind that there will be times when longer working hours will be needed and stress is inevitable, but this should be the exception rather than the norm. While it may be hard to remember what life was like before Lockdown 1.0, it`s important to do so as we`re (hopefully) coming out of Lockdown 3.0 for the last time. We`ll go back to town and leave behind the hours we spent at home at dining tables, on bar stools on kitchen counters, or, for those lucky, spent in their own office with an uncomfortable chair, not to mention the kids and pets who honored our Zoom meetings in everyday life. It was in November 2019 that I first wrote about mindful Business Charter in the context of marketing and business development and how conscious leaders in professional services companies can drive change and improve the mental health and well-being of their teams. It was a time without thoughts and (somewhat fortunately) without awareness of the seismic changes across the planet that 2020 would bring. Now more than ever, the business community must be bold, as encouraged by the Mindful Business Charter. How should the elements of the charter be updated, expanded or simply redesigned when more and more people are invited to work in teams that rarely meet in person? And how are those who still want to work in an office environment supported? It`s good to talk about the first pillar of mindful Business Charter, which is building trust and effective communication, has never been more relevant than in the last six months or so. The “normal” work patterns of marketing and DB teams were disrupted by the pandemic as people began to deal with office closures, school closures, family responsibilities, and the protection of medically vulnerable people. Many teams, while already successfully immersed in agile work models, have had to work full-time remotely, physically away from their stakeholders and without the benefits of personal networking, both internally and externally with clients.
In this “time of COVID,” the Charter`s line on “clarifying the relevant implications of a person`s work habits” simply jumps off the page, further emphasizing the importance of promoting respect and courtesy in the Charter. As a champion of mental health in my company, I was incredibly proud of the culture of openness and support that was built around mental health. Designed to train employees who are interested in mental health on how best to support others and provide effective signage, the Champion program has been more valuable than ever in 2020. The pandemic has led to many mental health and wellness issues, such as anxiety, isolation or loneliness, and the topic has often been high on the corporate agenda for business services partners and executives. Fostering a culture where people can talk early about any concerns they may have about their well-being (or the well-being of their colleagues) is an important commitment for conscious business charter signatories, and it`s now more important than ever. Talking openly about my own experiences with virus-related anxiety in a work-friendly environment was very cathartic. The email puzzle The pandemic soundtrack? For those working from home, aside from the sound of homeschooling or new wild puppies, it definitely has to be the wavy beeps and bouncing sounds of an incoming Skype call or Teams meeting. For much of 2020, these platforms (along with Zoom and others) have almost replaced physical team meetings.
However, for marketing and DB teams already working together across all regions and time zones, this transition has been greatly facilitated by the existing familiarity with the concept of virtual meetings. Few people would say that this type of collaboration can completely replace face-to-face meetings, but although we continue to be limited in such activities and, of course, when we travel, we have to find a balance between email and virtual meetings. We need to be aware of the effects that looking at a computer screen can have throughout the day and take regular breaks. For me personally, “Zoom Fatigue” started in April or May after staring at my laptop screen all day, then back in the evening hours to communicate with family and friends after hours or take my tenth virtual pub quiz of the week. While I stick to my conscious mantra of removing email notifications and push notifications, email can of course also provide a welcome change to browse a to-do list at your own pace. There will be a balance for smart emails and (when we meet again) for smart meetings. Dying out at home? For many of us, the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for new ways of working. Agile working policies in professional services firms are evolving rapidly, with leaders realizing that teams have appreciated having even more flexibility to decide how, where and when to work, and save more time for their families, health and other commitments. Signatories to the Mindful Business Charter should welcome this change; Companies and their customers are unlikely to return to the strict “hours of operation” of the past work week.
Balanced communication, exceptional time management skills and managing working time expectations will be essential to promote the well-being of marketing and comics professionals. We need to be creative when it comes to looking for new ways of working; Working full-time from home would also have been unthinkable in 2019, but few would say that the forced test was not largely passed. .