Debra Charles - Founder & CEO

The pandemic has made people kinder – find out how this is beneficial for the workplace

Two years ago this month, the Prime Minister announced pandemic lockdown restrictions, and we left the office. We thought it’d be temporary.

Now, two years on, we’re only just returning to our team HQ, on a hybrid basis, and we’re reconnecting as people, as friends, and as a team. Our adaptation and recovery is a journey and it’ll take time to adjust to new ways of working.

I’ve long been a believer in leading with kindness – which is more important now than ever. Kindness has had an enormous personal impact on my life and it can have an equally huge impact on society. I shared my thoughts with Surrey County Council recently as part of their thought leadership masterclass series. Surrey County Council is an organisation embracing innovation in a way that’s so key – innovation for positive change.

The pandemic has affected us all in different ways, both physical and in terms of wellbeing. Now more than ever, kindness is the most transformational innovation of all. Lead with kindness, and positive change will follow.  

I was inspired to know that other organisations are reflecting on what their employees have been through over the last couple of years and are acknowledging the need to reflect and support wellbeing, time to reflect and a supporting culture.

– Surrey County Council ‘Leading with Kindness’ masterclass attendee, on standout session learnings

The workplace is filled with small, impromptu kindnesses in a way that’s not so easy remotely. I believe we should all thoughtfully embrace that. Listening is important. Having a lunch or tea break together is a real boost and an amazing way of maintaining authentic connections. Hearing one of your team say thank you, or telling you that you did something really well, is simple yet transformative.

The University of Sussex, with BBC Radio 4, has just undertaken the world’s largest study on kindness*. Their findings corroborated what previous studies have found – that people who regularly perform and receive acts of kindness have higher levels of well-being. The study also found that two thirds of the 60,000 people surveyed said that they believed the unprecedented time of the pandemic has made people kinder – “people took more time to look after each other and noticed the small kindnesses that can make such a difference,” notes and article on the findings**.

Critically, though, it’s okay not to be okay. We’ve got a team of mental health first aiders. We encourage talking. Being kind to yourself – whether, for you, that means taking regular time for yourself, talking to someone, or practising mindfulness – is at the core of your own wellbeing and self-esteem.

The masterclass reminded me that we can facilitate change and it helped me stir up hope and motivation to bring about positive changes.

– Surrey County Council ‘Leading with Kindness’ masterclass attendee, on standout session learnings

For many, social connection has been a key thing lacking during the pandemic. So to be together again needs adjustment, kindness and thoughtful action.

Whether at work with colleagues or outside of work, we all need to belong, have a sense of purpose, and feel we’re making a meaningful difference.

– Surrey County Council ‘Leading with Kindness’ masterclass attendee, on standout session learnings

Our remote weekly team meetings have provided something unique – a space to talk, an open forum, and a voice for the people at the heart of Novacroft. For me, it’s been a place to listen. It’s helped me understand concerns and address them. We won’t be losing that as we spend more time at the office. We’ll build on it. We’ll be stronger. We’ll remain led by kindness, and that kindness is truly transformative.

I felt like I’d been for a spring walk with the sun shining and the blossom blowing, I was refreshed and left with more ideas.

– Surrey County Council ‘Leading with Kindness’ masterclass attendee, on standout session learnings

#PeopleFirst #LoveNovacroft

*BBC Radio 4: The Anatomy of Kindness

**BBC radio 4: Ten things we learned from the world’s largest study of kindness