Experts warn coronavirus remote working may impact employee wellbeing

 13th March 2020…With an increasing number of UK employers joining Google and Amazon in restricting travel and requesting remote working, British businesses need to get prepared or brace themselves for a potentially significant impact on employee wellbeing.

Remote working isn’t always as Instagram-worthy as it may seem. A global survey last year found that many remote workers struggle with unplugging from their work (22%), loneliness (19%) and communicating (17%)[1]. Another study in 2017 found that 41% of remote workers reported high stress levels, compared to just 25% of office workers.[2]

Business culture and remote working expert, Jane Sparrow, says “a little bit like when it snows, the first day or two of homeworking can feel quite fun – it’s different, you don’t have to get up as early, there’s no morning commute – but then the reality sets in and it can become a real challenge for people.

“If you’re used to seeing your colleagues or customers every day, feelings of isolation can creep in remarkably quickly. This new remote working environment can also affect focus, a sense of team and creativity. It’s not something that is often talked about but if we are to help our teams stay healthy, happy and ultimately productive, we have to recognise and manage the high stress environment that remote working can create for many people.”

Jane is founder and director at The Culture Builders who have been supporting China and Hong Kong based, global luxury fashion, beauty and lifestyle retailer, Lane Crawford, through the eye of the Coronavirus storm.

Andrew Keith, the company’s president, says “it’s hard to articulate the array of unprecedented challenges this situation has presented but at the heart of our response has been supporting people and keeping them connected – to each other and the organisation.

“We’ve been developing people managers on how to support their remote teams, providing daily top tips and inspiration to keep people motivated and working intensively with the top team on role modelling essential behaviours for effective virtual working. I started a VLOG a number of months ago to have an emotional and direct connection with every one of my people, during such a difficult time, which has had a huge positive impact.”

With millions of UK employees already working from home and millions more expected to follow, the challenge is on for businesses to keep their people positive, connected and productive. The Chancellor may have announced a £30bn package to “keep this country and our people healthy”, but the onus is just as much on employers to ensure their people are supported.

Jane Sparrow says, “There are so many benefits of remote working, for both people and business spanning wellbeing, productivity and the environment. A possible upside of this whole situation is that it may prove the case for more flexible working within companies who have  been slow to adopt it.

“However, many leaders, teams and companies come at remote working assuming that people will just do it well or adapt easily to it, if it’s new for them. The other thing we see a lot is businesses putting in a new or enhanced virtual working tool – and considering the job done.

“We need to remember that we’re all human – and so dropping people into a totally different way of working with just a new video communication platform – it doesn’t work. We have to think about how we keep people feeling connected, that they’re still part of a team and that there’s still a strong support network in place. On the topic of connection, we’ve been going to Lane Crawford’s virtual gin dens!”


  1. Don’t focus on tools alone

With video communication, webcasting, messaging platforms and more, the tech is there to make this work. But attitudes and behaviours are just as vital for a productive remote team.

  1. Create a third place

There’s the office, there’s home and then there’s the virtual third place. Agree as a team how you’ll behave there for virtual collaboration success e.g. it’s acceptable to send a quick message to say “I’ll call you back” if you’re deep in focus.

  1. Ensure social continuity

When we work remotely, our exchanges become more formal and task focused. Pick up the phone, or ping a message, just to see how someone else’s day is going. Virtual team check ins at the start and end of each day replicate the usual social greetings and create connection.

  1. Adapt working structures

What works in the office may not remotely. Instead of lengthy meetings, have short virtual huddles with a strong chair so people don’t get lost because they’re not physically visible. Apply this thinking to team resourcing, scheduling and action planning.

  1. How are we feeling?

Keeping in tune with how teams are feeling is even more critical when they’re remote – have five minutes on the start of every virtual meeting to say hello properly and see how people are.

  1. Help people to manage distraction

Distractions are the biggest reason why many people say homeworking wouldn’t work for them. Get your leaders to talk openly with people about how they’re managing theirs – specific break times are a good start!

  1. Say thank you more

We have a human need to feel valued and when we work remotely the opportunities for this diminish. Make sure your business is seeking out and actively sharing success and your managers are dialing up the appreciation.

  1. Energising – your way

What gives us energy is different for everyone but your people need to work it out fast for success. A tried and tested formula is breaks + movement + fresh air (every so often). Plus avoiding the lure of the biscuit cupboard with healthy snacks instead.

  1. Walk the virtual walk

There’s a critical role for leaders and managers to connect, support, coach and role model. Task your managers with choosing two different people to call each day for a 10 minute check in.

  1. Be realistic and honest

If schools and nurseries close, the impact on how we are able to work will be even greater. Businesses will need to respond quickly and empathetically – leaders being open and honest about their own working patterns (and limitations) can really set the tone.

For more thinking and top tips on effective remote working subscribe to The Culture Builders podcast.

About Jane Sparrow

Jane is an organisational culture expert, published author, expert facilitator, performance coach, impactful speaker and global commentator. She has worked with businesses across the world, including Centrica, UKTV, Sony, Lane Crawford, Dyson, HSBC, Rugby Premiership and Sky, to create and sustain high performance cultures.

About The Culture Builders

The Culture Builders is a UK-based consultancy that works globally and specialises in building high performance teams and workplaces. Their client list includes global corporates, UK NGO & Government organisations, NHS trusts, charities and SME including Sony, NTT Security, Dyson, The Government Office, BBC and Arqiva. The Culture Builders is a carbon-neutral company.

For further information visit theculturebuilders.com[1] 2019, Global Survey, Buffer –  https://buffer.com/state-of-remote-work-2019

[2] 2017 United Nations report – http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—dgreports/—dcomm/—publ/documents/publication/wcms_544138.pdf

Photo caption – Remote workers can quickly feel isolated, distracted and lonely” says business culture and remote working expert, Jane Sparrow.

Photo credit – remote working stress by Anton Korobkov, Shutterstock

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7 Amazing Reasons To Use CBD Oil

CBD oil is a medicinal oil which for years has been used for different treatments in patients all over the world. This natural oil is something which can be effective for a number of uses and it is widely applauded for its medical merits. However, due to the source of CBD oil, it has often come under controversies and is only now moving past the stigma associated with its use. 

Today we want to make a real case for the use of CBD oil and why you should consider this as an addition to your medicine cabinet this year. Here are some of the biggest health benefits and reasons why you should utilise the power of CBD oil this year. 

  1. Pain Relief

For anyone who suffers with a major chronic illness such as fibromyalgia, Marijuana can be a huge help. CBD Oil is a great way to relieve major pain suffered by many and this can allow people to live a fuller and happier life. Scientists have tested the effect of this oil on the body and they have been able to discover many pain killing chemicals contained within. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the human body is a system which deals with appetite, immune response, and sleep. The body produces chemicals known as endocannabinoids which are neurotransmitters that bind to cannaboid receptors, located in the nervous system. CBD oil, otherwise known as Cannabidiol, interacts with receptors to reduce inflammation and the interaction with neurotransmitters. In basic terms, CBD oil prevents pain by blocking receptors and this can be a huge help for those who need it. For those who suffer from pain, CBD oil is a must and can change a patient’s quality of life. 

  1. Reduces Anxiety and Depression

Mental issues are something which have always been taboo, however in recent years we are realising that most people suffer from some sort of mental disorder whether it be anxiety, depression, stress, or something else. Anxiety and depression are incredibly common issues we face and they are both issues which can impact our health and wellbeing. Finding a natural aid to these issues is always on the minds of many because using pills is not the best option. CBD oil has been proven to impact mental health in a positive way, and since this oil is derived from the same plant as marijuana, it is not all too surprising it can improve your mood. In both animal and human studies, CBD oil has proved to impact mental health and reduce anxiety and depression. It interacts with the brain and helps to calm us, allowing for better control over emotions. 

  1. Cancer symptom aid

Whilst we are not about to make a bold statement such as CBD oil can help treat cancer, what it can do is have a positive impact on sufferer’s symptoms and help to control these symptoms. CBD may be able to reduce the symptom related to cancer such as pain, nausea, vomiting, and more. When exploring the effect CBD oil has on the body, it was noted that CBD seems to be more effective in symptom control than THC. CBD can also help with the symptoms relating to chemotherapy and this means that many sufferers will be able to avoid the pain and discomfort felt after a session of therapy. Those who suffer from cancer need all the help they can get, and CBD might just be a small miracle for sufferers in making their lifestyle more bearable during treatment. It has also been linked to the reduction in size of breast cancer cells. In short, CBD oil will be a great addition to your medicine cabinet if you are suffering from a form of cancer. 

  1. May Reduce Acne

Acne is a problem we most associate with our teen years however, it can be an ongoing issue into adulthood too. If you have naturally oily skin, you will be predisposed to acne and this means you are more likely to suffer from acne as an adult. Treating acne can be a pain and it is always best to let the spots shrink on their own rather than pop them. CBD oil has been tested in relation to acne and it has shown to help reduce the risk and also treat it more effectively. CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and as a result it is useful in reducing redness and swelling caused by white and blackheads. CBD oil has also been shown to prevent the skin cells from producing excess sebum, which can block pores and cause a spot outbreak. 

  1. Neuroprotective 

As we live through the years of our lives, one of the most important things for us to consider is our brain and the health of our brain cells. Our brain cells are the cells which make us who we are and allow us to develop traits and maintain a healthy personality over time. Neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia are caused by brain cells dying at a rapid rate, and to avoid this happening to use during our loves we need to think of solutions now. Preventing the decay of brain tissue is incredibly important and it is something we have to consider every day. CBD oil can help keep brain cells active and healthy, and therefore reduce the risk of them dying at a faster rate than they are produced. CBD oil can even be used for those who are suffering in the early stages of a neurological disorder to holt the onset of dangerous symptoms which may have an effect on their quality of life.

  1. Keep Your Heart Healthy

The heart is literally the beating heart of the body. It performs an essential job by pumping oxygen around the body to supply every cell with essential nutrients and energy. CBD oil has been proven to aid in heart health and this is something which has been a huge help for many. CBD oil is particularly effective in reducing blood pressure and this has been a big help to those who suffer with high blood pressure due to stress or cholesterol. 


Study: How healthy are freelancers and entrepreneurs who work from home?

Before going freelance or launching a business, many people might think it’s all long, leisurely lunches and spontaneous trips to the beach when the sun comes out. But new research from PR Unlocked shows how working from home can impact the health and wellbeing of self-employed workers, highlighting the importance of community, work-spaces and routines.

Two-fifths of the freelancers and small business owners work from home five days a week and a fifth said it varies week-to-week. A minority work six or seven days a week (4% and 1% respectively), 16% work three days and 15% work four days.

Two-thirds (66%) have a dedicated workspace in their home, but just over a third (34%) don’t. For freelancers and entrepreneurs who don’t have a home office, they work from their dining room or kitchen table, on the sofa, in bed or from a garden office.

Prolonged sitting or not having a proper desk can have a negative impact on our bodies. Pilates teacher Kerrie-Anne Bradley and Founder of Pilates at Your Desk said: “Sitting incorrectly puts undue pressure onto our hips and lower back. It creates imbalances throughout the body. Those of us sit like a cashew, for example, where the bottom is tucked under and the upper back and shoulders are rounded forward are at more risk of facing issues like back and neck problems, and tight hip flexors. Sitting like a cashew tends to happen when we work on a bed and sofa. Basically, where the laptop isn’t at eye-height and you are less able to sit up on your sit bones; the boney bits under your bottom.”

But a lot of self-employed people don’t just work from home all day, every day. A quarter (25%) said they sometimes work from co-working spaces, and over half (55%) work from coffee shops, libraries or other public spaces. Over a third (34%) sometimes work from clients’ offices and 13% work from other freelancers’ or business owners’ homes.

When it comes to taking long, leisurely lunches – it turns out a lot of freelancers and small businesses didn’t get the memo. Over a third (35%) eat lunch at their desk and 3% don’t take a lunch break at all. Just over two-fifths (41%) take at least a 30-minute break away from their place of work, and 21% take at least an hour lunch break.
And in terms of being active, a quarter (25%) said they make time to exercise every day or most days when they’re working from home, 37% get active some days and 16% at least once a week. However, 22% of self-employed people working from home never find the time to exercise.

Kerrie-Anne added: “We should also try to move every 30 minutes. This doesn’t have to be leg-over-head stuff, it can be a walk to kitchen, squats while you wait for your coffee, or lunges while you’re waiting for lunch to cook.”

Over a third (38%) of freelancers and entrepreneurs regularly have days when they don’t speak to or meet other people during working hours, and 40% sometimes have days where they don’t see or speak to anyone else. Only 22% of the freelancers and business owners PR Unlocked spoke to said they try to meet or speak to other people most days.

As a result of working from home, 53% said they had felt unproductive, 49% isolated, 47% lonely and 36% stressed. Only 15% of the freelancers and business owners hadn’t experienced any negative feelings.

Some respondents specifically said they felt out of the loop with what’s going on in their industry, missed having colleagues to bounce ideas off, and wanted people to share problems with. And the majority (80%) of freelancers and small business owners find it difficult to switch off from work.

David Price, CEO of Health Assured, said: “When you run a small business from your bedroom or spend your days freelancing in your kitchen, you run the risk of turning your home into a place associated with work. It’s hard to relax and unwind at the end of a workday when you’re sitting within the same four walls that you’ve spent eight hours working hard in so try to create a specific space for working in. Working remotely or by yourself takes you away from the support systems that employed, on-site staff enjoy. If you have a problem, you won’t have anyone to turn to. Trying to make the effort to see someone every day can help with isolation. Go outside, get some coffee and chat with a friend.”

Although self-employed workers should make the effort to look after their health and wellbeing, it’s important to remember the advantages of this way of working.

The majority (83%) of freelancers and small business owners said one of the best things about working from home was no commute. Over half (54%) said getting to fit in household chores to their day, and a further 54% said they appreciate getting to take breaks when they want.

Nearly half (48%) said they’re more productive, a third (32%) said they get to fit exercise into their day and a quarter (26%) said they eat healthier. Some freelancers and business owners added the flexibility to work around children, look after their dogs and other pets, avoiding office politics and working around their health.

Read the full breakdown of the research, along with advice and case studies on the PR Unlocked website. https://prunlocked.com/working-from-home-routines-health-wellbeing-freelancers-businesses/

Notes to editor

PR Unlocked surveyed 406 freelancers and business owners who work from home regularly.

PR Unlocked is an online training and coaching platform to help startups and small businesses promote and market their business. It was created by Claire Gamble, MD of Unhooked Communications.

As well as a full course, PR Unlocked includes free resources, guides, articles and podcasts.


FACEBOOK video impacted 1000s of British youth on WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY

Singer-songwriter Reece J has released a social anxiety awareness video that he hopes will strike a chord with British youth.

The urban star, whose edgy track ‘Dance Theresa’ featuring the Prime Minister’s groovy moves, is hoping to raise awareness of mental health thanks to his new film, inspired by Bob Marley.

Moved by his friend who suffers with mental health issues, Reece J decided to release his new video Inner Strength on Facebook this week.


He said: “Both of the actors in the video suffer from social anxiety and helped me create this.

“Social anxiety is an intense fear that affects everyday activities, self-confidence, relationships and work or school life. People suffering with it may overly worry about social activities such as meeting strangers, shopping or speaking on the phone.
“I just hope my new video, which has been launched to coincide with Mental Health Day, will bring them joy and motivation – along with everyone else who suffers. Everyone should listen to this song.”

Reece J, who hails from West London, was a resident DJ and host at a number of well-known nightclubs in the capital. A former member of Official HTZ, he regularly attends the Grammy awards ceremony held in America.
He’s also a close friend of Ali Tennant, a British songwriter who has worked with One Direction, Nicki Minaj and Emeli Sande.

Follow Reece J at:
Official Website: https://www.officialReeceJ.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/officialReeceJ
Instagram: http://instagram.com/officialReeceJ

The new career deal…

How is the rise of the gig economy, the ageing workforce and the increasing demand for flexible working affecting how organisations attract, recruit and develop their staff?

rawpixel-669611-unsplashOn October 11th and 12th, the Association for Business Psychology is holding it’s annual conference. Aimed at providing people keen to understand more about how to apply good science and psychology to business, the conference is packed with vetted and selected content. We have over 70 applications to speak and feature those who provide the best evidence, research and practical applications to their work. Unlike many other conferences, ours is not for profit: content is for the benefit of those attending. Sales led content is excluded. We have a maximum number of 200 delegates to allow for meaningful networking and connections.

Awards speakers confirmed
We are delighted to share the timetable complete with all the speakers who have been shortlisted for the awards – for the first time this year, have a look at the complete list of confirmed speakers featuring work in:

– PwC
– Goldman Sachs
– Vodafone
– Civil Service
– Kier Group
– Arup
– Financial Services Compensation Scheme
– Bank of Scotland
– Government Recruitment Service
– HM Courts and Tribunals
– Rank Group

It is clear as psychologists we are having a great impact on the world of work, so come and hear for yourself the people involved, the work being done and the impact it has made. To view the complete timetable, click here: https://www.theabp.org.uk/media/7546027/2018-Conference-Timetable-v08.pdf

No ABP conference is complete without the opportunity to develop a skillset. Each year, the highest level of feedback we receive is the mix of content: round table discussions, more formal speaking slots and workshops. The mixture allows you to build up not only your network, but your skills and knowledge. Workshops are interactive, longer sessions to allow you time to develop your skill and understanding. Workshops are free to attend with your conference ticket.

The mid-life flourish: how self awareness helps you make the most of your evolving personality.

– Peter Saville – 10x Psychology.
People Analytics: Science or Hype?

Designing virtual assessment centres

– Jo Maddocks, Sophie Seex, JCA
How to be a mindful leader: how to create stability in a disruptive world

To view more of the learning objectives for each workshop, view here:


For people attending our conference, workshops are free to attend.

Last year over 90% of people who attended the conference felt it was excellent, represented great value for money and would recommend it to friends. It is the one event each year, where you can truly engage with up to date, relevant and evidence based work enabling you to tick a lot of boxes whilst having a lot of fun. We look forward to seeing you there!