How to prepare yourself and your teams for winter

By Jane Sparrow

2020 feels like it’s been a long year already and there’s no doubt it’s been tough – but it’s also given us all a new take on life, different skills and, for many of us, shown us what’s really important. As we bed down for the winter, the usual festivities we all enjoy will surely be different this year but if we know anything from 2020 already, it’s that we can knock it out of the park in coming up with new, ingenious and virtual ways of doing things – just look at Top Gear and Strictly Come Dancing, notoriously audience-based TV shows in the UK that have managed to evolve and air!

To carry on doing this, it’s vital that we each find different ways to get fuel into our human bank accounts, to sustain us for the season. Think of it like cats and dogs. If the summer was a dog (out and about, bounding across fields, connecting to nature, enjoying the outdoors), winter is going to be more like a cat, (warming up, getting cosy, time at home). Explore our top tips to find some new ways to support yourself and your team to not only survive, but also thrive, this winter.

Steal the limelight (well, the daylight actually)

A lack of natural daylight is something that affects us all during the winter. Create a little window spot, however makeshift, in your home and make a commitment to get outside, every day, even just for a few minutes. There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing – invest in some warm socks, pull out your favourite scarves and gloves and enjoy the sound of frost crunching underfoot. Try a walk during the day (instead of early morning or evening) to maximise the daylight and vitamin D.

Get in emotional shape

We all know we feel better when the sun is shining but take some time to prepare for the fact that it won’t be (as much!). Firstly, reflect – where are you at emotionally, what do you need, what has worked well this year? Next, make a plan – where you will get the soul food you need (regularly) through winter? What will your daily check in be to make sure you’re getting it? Encourage your teams to do this too – or better still, do it together.

Make a staying active plan

Even with the best laid plans, some days winter makes it pretty miserable to get outside – so we need indoor exercise options too. Create your own Joe Wicks routine (or find some old ones from lockdown!), find an online yoga or pilates session or whatever indoor exercise might suit you. A bit like we did in lockdown, make exercising with the family fun – dancing in the kitchen is an amazing mood booster!  

Reconnect with old hobbies 

There’s a range of areas we need to nurture to feel fulfilled, that goes beyond work and family. What makes your heart sing, what old passion can you reignite, what can you keep doing that you really enjoy? The critical ingredient to this is creating the space for it and unplugging for long enough to do it! Right now is a great time to start using a hobby to MAKE Christmas presents for people… 

Create a brave space

82% of people believe that robots can support their mental health better than humans because they’re judgement free! Talking openly about how you are feeling and creating space for others to do the same is essential. Every one of the 100’s of teams we’ve worked with in the last 10 months has said how useful it was to share how they are feeling in a safe space. It’s really unlocked some very powerful conversations, as well as an increased level of empathy in the organisation. 

Schedule reasons to be cheerful

We’re all going to need more of these this winter. Pay extra attention to sharing good news stories across channels that reach everyone to give teams shared reasons to celebrate. Bring back the funnies and look out for memes that you know will bring a smile to the faces in your team. Create moments of joy for your people through unexpected acts, surprises and special thank yous. 

Winter connection plans

Try to focus on quality connection instead of simply more communication both through virtual, socially distanced face to face (where possible) and hybrid channels, We loved the activity we heard one of our clients doing where once a week, one of the team connected via their phone and took the team on a video tour of their neighbourhood, a local walk or a favourite place? Work with your team to come up with your own ideas. 

Renew your unplugging rituals 

With 38% of British workers, who are currently working full-time from home, saying that an inability to unplug from the “always on” virtual working day is the main reason for their increased anxiety levels, it’s the biggest threat to our wellbeing right now.  As you head into winter reflect on how easily you have been able to unplug to date, what are your danger points and what you can put in place to mitigate them. Have the same conversation with your team – our positive remote working day is a great stimulus for this!

Schedule celebrations

We may not be able to celebrate in the way we’re accustomed to this year across the range of festivities we all celebrate – but don’t wholesale postpone celebrations, rather, make plans for everything from awards, target hitting celebration lunches, and more to happen virtually. Take the opportunity for different team members to lead virtual celebrations of their own festivals as a way of learning more about each other’s cultures and beliefs. 

Radiators and drains

There’s no doubt that we all need actual radiators in the winter but we also need to make sure we surround ourselves with people radiators too. Think about who radiates in your life (and teams) and who drains. Avoid the drains (always if you can but if not, at least on days where you’re feeling depleted). Take all opportunities to pay it forward and do a good deed in any way you can – someone brought my dog back last week when she got out through a gate left open.  A complete stranger that showed care and took the time to locate her home as well as reassuring the little pup. 

We’ve shared a lot of action and it’s important to say that much of the above starts with mindset. If we can begin to lean in towards looking forward to winter this year, focusing on and talking about the positive things that it will bring, as opposed to thinking negatively about the challenges, this will certainly help. 

A little like the Danish philosophy around Hygge that many of you will have heard me talk about before, let’s work on acknowledging a feeling or a moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special, focusing on the opportunity it has created, rather than something different that hasn’t been possible.