The thought of exercising on a cold winter morning was a mountain I was not willing to climb at the start of 2021. Despite the best intentions for a daily dose of activity before the working day, my snooze button was beginning to see more action than my push-bike.
I was not alone in my sedentary start to the new year. According to former Olympian and leading sports scientist, Greg Whyte, the combination of Lockdown 3.0 with a further reduction in activity levels during winter, meant Britain was headed for a ‘perfect storm’ on physical health and mental wellbeing.
The new normal of working from home and its negative impact on our co-workers’ wellbeing has long been at the forefront of all our minds since the pandemic hit. We believe in taking a people-first approach – so it was important for us as an agency to be proactive and create simple initiatives to engage and help support the Stripe team during what has been a difficult time for everyone.
Small steps to positive change
12 months ago, we formed an all-agency wellbeing committee, putting in place an action plan focused on supporting the team’s mental, as well as physical, wellbeing.
Small and simple changes to daily working routines were soon implemented; regular screen breaks, no meetings over lunch, option to use dial in ‘walking-talking’ meetings rather than desk-based zooms, fortnightly check-ins and coaching to ask how each other was getting on, a weekly all staff meeting to share news and keep people connected, and an optional online social to bring some humor into the working week.
We also offered our teams online yoga practice and meditation every fortnight in rotation. The sessions are still ongoing and allow people to wind down and bring relaxation and movement to their week.
Stripe Edinburgh to London challenge
One of our biggest initiatives this year in defiance of the cold winter months and the start of Lockdown 3.0, was the launch of Stripe’s Edinburgh to London Challenge, encouraging the team to cycle, run or walk the 406 miles distance between our two offices.
The focus of the challenge was not to find out who was the strongest or fittest Stripe in the agency but supporting each other to be more active and making the challenge as accessible as possible, with a mutual goal which we could all work towards.
Using the Strava App and setting up a dedicated Stripe Club, the team was able to record their miles whilst providing kudos to their co-workers in real time. We created an all-agency Spotify playlist of tunes to help us stay motivated during a workout and relayed progress updates to the team on a weekly basis.
A total of 33 co-workers joined the challenge and for some, the idea of taking part in a collective exercise activity was just the spark they needed to change their routine from the couch to getting outdoors.
The team smashed their target, completing 554 miles in less than a month with prizes given out to those in each office who completed the most miles.
As an agency, we have all felt the benefits of investing in team wellbeing. Helping to keep each other motivated and engaged during this time has helped to foster a new sense of purpose and camaraderie amongst us all which will continue long after lockdown ends.
And as for my snooze button: What can I say? Balance is now my new mantra on how to be more active and lead a healthier and happier lifestyle during lockdown.