This week we launched our Yorkshire Housing office catalogue to give our colleagues the equipment they need to work from home. Colleagues can order what they need, whether it’s a proper office chair, a fold up desk they can pack away or even a SAD lamp to give their wellbeing a boost through the Winter months. It’s just one of a series of wellbeing initiatives we’ve launched to support our colleagues during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the start of the lockdown we focused on keeping our colleagues and our customers who live in the 18,000 homes we manage safe. We asked our office-based colleagues to work from home and shut our head office in Leeds. As the restrictions continued, we anticipated this would be for the long haul, so in July we sent out temporary home working guidelines to our colleagues to give them clarity on how we now work and the support we have in place.
We knew from our DSE surveys that some people were working at their kitchen table, their sofa or even perched on the end of their bed. They didn’t have the right office equipment at home and some had space issues of where to put a proper desk.
Although working like this was possible for a few months, it wasn’t good enough long-term. We had already kitted people out with fantastic tech to work with, we now needed to help colleagues to create a comfortable workspace. This is where the idea of the catalogue came in. We took inspiration from our colleagues at another housing association, Mosscare St Vincents, who had done something similar and developed our own Yorkshire Housing online equipment catalogue. We’re even offering a home assembly service!
We’ve had great feedback on the catalogue so far. It has made colleagues feel valued and has shown that Yorkshire Housing is an employer who cares. The catalogue is just one part of our wellbeing strategy. We’re running mental health and resilience workshops, talking to colleagues in focus groups and we’ve just launched new health benefit for colleagues as a thank you for their amazing work this year. We wanted to give our people a gift that would have a lasting positive impact and this lets them claim over £1,000 of health and wellbeing treatments and gives access to a range of professional services.
I think it’s important to recognize that how we are working now is not normal remote working, its working during a global pandemic with all the restrictions and uncertainty about the future that this creates. We’re living in a time when people’s mental health is being challenged more than ever, with many feeling the effects of long–term isolation, anxiety and the personal challenges caused by the situation. There is no quick fix to this, but we’re investing in areas that we believe will make a positive difference to our colleague’s lives.
We launched our new company values two weeks before COVID-19 hit. One of our behaviours is ‘do the right thing not the easy thing’. COVID-19 has tested this in so many ways and we’ve been so proud of all our colleagues who have risen to this challenge, supporting customers who needed extra support during lockdown and keeping vital services running. To me, the new wellbeing initiatives are another great example of this in action. As employers we need to ‘do the right thing not the easy thing’ and prioritise the mental health and wellbeing of our colleagues during the pandemic.