This past year has changed us in ways we may not even know. As we navigated multiple lockdowns and a pandemic, we found ourselves evaluating the different elements of our lives and really taking count of what makes us happy and brings value to our lives.
The team at Advanced persevered with a headfirst approach. We swiftly managed to ensure mobility, and our employees began working from home from March 2020 onwards. We continued operating throughout the year, as we were dedicated towards ensuring our software solutions remained best positioned to support our customers through this challenging period. With each impact, our solutions evolved as they naturally adapted to protect your organisations. We launched an Adastra deployment that helped clinicians take 111 calls during COVID-19, Cloud School grew to integrate at home learning, and Cloud Venue was amended to incorporate staggered seating. As we settled into a moment of stability, our organisation recognised the importance of giving back, and we launched multiple initiatives to support UK businesses throughout this strenuous period. Our Million Makers team raised over £10,000 for The Prince’s Trust, we launched the Technology Adoption Grant that offered free installation for businesses to support their migration to the Cloud, and in lieu of a holiday party we donated money to a range of charities to best support those in need.
We as people also changed, our priorities shifted as our workforce tackled significant changes to our daily lives and its impact on our wellbeing. Giving something back is a focus at Advanced and this extends to our team, to reward us for our perseverance and hard work, Advanced introduced Summer Fridays. Every individual at Advanced is entitled to half-a-day off work per week in July and August of 2021. For the majority this will be a Friday afternoon – but given the nature of some roles this may not be possible for all, as the business will still be operating as usual.
Summer Fridays is new for us but it’s vital to ensuring our team feels empowered, comfortable, and supported. The tumultuous period since the pandemic began has really impacted the wellbeing and morale of people across the UK as the ‘pandemic burnout’ takes its toll. Stephen Taylor, a professor and clinical psychologist at the University of British Columbia, said pandemic-related burnout was something people might experience where they feel “increasingly emotionally exhausted, despairing and irritable as the pandemic drags out”. He further comments “stress affects our bodies in ways that are described as burnout. That long-term stress is different from short-term and has an insidious and profound effect on how we can function. Even if we are functioning well, we are not functioning as we used to.” The RSPH report echoed the negative impacts working from home has had as it notes that more than half (56 percent) of those who started working from home found it harder to switch off from work, while almost 38 percent said the change had disrupted their sleep. Without holidays to look forward to, changing regulations and the anxiety perpetuated by emerging variants, it’s crucial we take a step back to prioritise our wellbeing. Outside of work, as people we must recognise that we are all facing very different challenges and have various triggers, stress points and anxieties.
The hope for Summer Fridays is that it will allow our team to take a bit more time to themselves and shift the focus to our wants and needs outside of work. Support Team Manager, Andrew Goodwin will be using the time to prepare for his brother’s wedding, our Chief Marketing Officer, Sally Scott is hoping to return to the golf course, and for me, it’s an opportunity to invest more time in building and nurturing relationships. This incentive will only have a positive impact on the morale and wellbeing of our team. According to PayChex in their 2017 study, more than 80 percent of employees surveyed recognised that their most significant work-related stress was not having enough time to spend at home. Brian Kropp, Group Vice President of the HR practice at Gartner recognised how offering your employees work-life balance can increase productivity, loyalty and employee retention.
The improved flexibility offered by Summer Fridays allows employees to be one step closer to achieving a healthy work-life balance. How you choose to spend this time is up to you, the only recommendation being that whatever activity you choose, it inherently helps you and contributes towards your wellbeing, as at Advanced, this should always take precedence.