The World BC (Before Corona) seems like a long time ago. As an organisation we've generally adapted quite well, and we’ve even accepted the blatant over-use of terms such as unprecedented, flattening the curve, the new normal, essential services and social distancing. But at Five Good Friends there’s one word we are determined to avoid...ISOLATION. We want to ensure that the terms “physical distance” and “isolation” are distinguished as two very different things.
The company’s name, Five Good Friends, is based on the Blue Zones. These are the geographies and societies where studies have proven that the people live the longest lives. One of the common threads connecting the Blue Zones is that the inhabitants generally have five- six good friends, or in other words, a close community with strong human connection…so basically, the polar opposite of isolation.
The Five Good Friends business was established to ensure those in need are never isolated and, by becoming a Five Good Friends (FGF) member, can get help with essential services, be it nursing, shopping, housework or even just companionship- one of our most utilised services. So, with a strong team, and some very clever technology that underpins how we deliver care, it’s fair to say that FGF had all the pieces of the puzzle to tackle the issues Coronavirus appeared to be throwing at us. But even though we had planned, strategised and discussed all sorts of outcomes, the biggest problem with this situation is that it comes with an enormous dose of uncertainty. In many cases, uncertainty does strange things to the human mind, so we quickly realised that mindset and mental wellness needed to be a top priority.
The health and wellbeing of our customers (members) will always be our driving force, but we also needed to focus on the staff and broader team of people working within FGF. In the weeks since the start of this “new normal” We have truly realised that when uncertainty rears its head, people respond very differently. So, to make sure that we have the ability to respond in a healthy way, we need to focus on our mental wellness.
Our staff needed to feel an element of job security, not only from a financial perspective, but also from one of health. Here’s a few of the initiatives the management and broader team have put in place to achieve this:
A commitment to regular communication from our senior leaders and line managers. We are all made aware of the business focus, of the moving parts and the implementation plan to execute during this time. This ensures the uncertainties and unknowns don’t become the focus!
Maintain social contact
While we couldn’t be physically close, we could maintain social contact. We have, like many other businesses, utilised Zoom regularly for meetings and informal catch-ups, including our all of organisation “A Very Brady Thursday”, named by our CEO, Simon Lockyer, and whilst risking missing the mark as a term for many of our youthful team members, it was initiated, and the response has been overwhelming… from all staff youthful and those of us over 40!! We are determined to maintain this initiative AC, (After Coronavirus).
Mindfulness sessions at work
We introduced mindfulness sessions. It is something as an organisation that we have spoken about and like many other opportunities in our business, COVID-19 has given us the excuse to implement and implement fast. So, three times a week since the beginning of April, the organisation is invited to stop, pause and have moments where they learn that being present is powerful and healthy.
We have engaged a wonderful coach from Cool Karma Collective, who is guiding these sessions and the feedback has been incredibly positive. Being able to stop and pause three times a week to help us all set up regular long-term habits is not an ordinary organisational approach. We are no ordinary organisation! Our employee’s need to feel happy and valued to help us maintain an engaged workforce. Our culture is something we are very proud and protective of.
Mindfulness is not only an opportunity for our team to have a time to stop and breathe. It has a dual benefit. Mindfulness increases focus and emotional control which research has shown to lead to increased happiness and a more engaged workforce which in turn leads to greater productivity, both professionally and personally. Who doesn’t want some of that!
These initiatives have not been difficult to implement, and their benefit has been powerful. We now look forward to taking what we’ve learned and broadening it. We are currently researching for the future as to how we can offer mindfulness to our broader workforce, our members and their families. We’ve learnt that a focus on human connection and mental health should not just be in response to a crisis, but rather part of our normal practice to ensure that nobody feels isolated.
Written by: Sam Carson, Commercial Director