Wellbeing in the workplace: Nutritious July

In May we began a new internal health and wellbeing project that aimed to use the tools and methods we use in our day-to-day work to ensure that the Uscreates team is increasingly healthy and happy. During May we focused on behaviour change around mental health, introducing four changes: we clarified the remote working policy; encouraged the team to book lunchtime into their diary to ensure an hour in the middle of the day is always protected; researched how we could reduce the volume and length of meetings, encouraging snappy standing scrums where possible; and we introduced an email ban that restricted emails to between 7am and 7pm on working days. Click here to read more about what we did. In June we focused our efforts on physical health; we researched ergonomics, resulting in lots of new screens and better working space; we encouraged the team to participate in physical activities, including lunch time runs and after work yoga; we encouraged the team to be more active on their commutes, getting off a stop early, cycling, walking and running instead of using public transport; and finally we introduced a step count challenge. Click here to read more about what we did.

As a summer extension to Active June, on Saturday 6th August eleven team members partook in the London Triathlon, completing three 750m swims in the Thames, four 20km cycles round East London and past City Airport and four 5km runs, all in the baking afternoon August heat. The teams each trained in the months before the event, with a warm up run to ‘Chase the Sun’ on Clapham Common and countless hours on the bike and in the pool or lake. Every Uscreature did a superb job and we are really proud of the team for coming together and doing so brilliantly.

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Since then we have been exploring other active events that we could do as a team, and Ultimate Frisbee and trampolining at ‘Flipout Wandsworth’ are on our hit list for the next month. Keep an eye on our social media for photographic evidence!

The ‘Us’ team was keen to maintain the momentum we had gained throughout Mental Health May and Active June by kicking off our changes for our July topic – healthy eating. Our four changes in July were:

  • Healthy snacks
  • Potluck lunches
  • Lemon water jugs
  • Knowledge sharing

We had already made the significant and conscientious decision to stop buying biscuits as a company earlier in the year meaning we had already won a big office battle by changing the team’s snacking behaviour and collectively improving our diets by swapping custard creams for cashews and chocolate bourbons for bananas. We were surprised by how much healthier we felt in ourselves and how much more energy we had.

We have always had a large fruit delivery each Monday from our fantastic local fruit guy in Vauxhall station, Ben Wood, but found that introducing dried fruit and nuts along with oat cakes and popcorn really supplemented our at-work diets and avoided the sugar low during the day that we experienced eating biscuits and crisps.

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Another small but significant change was putting jugs of lemon water on our hot desks to encourage the team to stay hydrated throughout the day, essential during the summer heat, but important more broadly for brain function and overall health.

We have held several potluck lunches, where whoever wants to participate brings in a (usually) homemade healthy dish to share with the team. This has facilitated conversations around healthy eating, including the individual and environmental benefits of eating thoughtfully, recipe sharing and of course team bonding. We have coupled this team lunch opportunity with ‘Lunch and learns’ where a team member or someone from within our network gives us a talk about something they have worked on, have knowledge about or are passionate about.

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One of our 2016 joiners, Bairbre who is one of the Uscreates project managers, came from the Sustainable Restaurant Association and volunteered to give us a talk on eating sustainably, which was not only topical, but also covered a lot of content that piqued the interest of the team. We have also had a lunch and learn session from Kerve Creative and have three more internal talks lined up for September.

August saw us challenge our environmental practices, more information in the next Us instalment; and September has brought the Great British Bake Off back to our screens and as lovers of all home baked goods, Uscreates are holding a sweepstake in the studio, with whoever’s representative is voted out, baking something related to that week’s food for the team. Lucky team!

If you would like to talk to us about this project, get in touch with our internal wellbeing champions, Hannah Pinnock hannah@uscreates.com and Francesca Cook francesca@uscreates.com

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