Breathing Life into Lockdown

Breathing Life into Lockdown

As lockdowns continue in large parts of Australia and New Zealand, supporting your team's mental health and keeping them motivated has been a regular topic of discussion at Telum Media, as well as the many media organisations, businesses and agencies we speak with every day. The General Manager of Zeno Group in Australia, Sarah Littlefair, was kind enough to share some of the things she and her team are doing to breathe life into lockdown.

As we enter our third month of working (and schooling) from home (WFH), it’s vital that we continue to explore new ways to keep employees engaged and energised. Here are some of the things we have been doing at Zeno Group in Australia to help keep team morale high. I'd also love to hear how others are fending off WFH fatigue.

Get out
Prompted by a sorrowful day when my watch recorded a grand total of 578 steps (i.e. a couple of desk / kitchen / bathroom laps) I introduced twice weekly Walk & Talk sessions. The rules are simple: at around noon, get outside and take a stroll, dial in with the team, share your views and chat about pretty much anything that isn’t work.

There have been days when I’ve groaned as midday approached, not wanting to drag myself away from my laptop, but every time, I have been so grateful that I did. Chatting without an agenda is my favourite part of this too. It's a reminder of what everyday office chat felt like.

Share your secrets
What’s keeping everyone going through lockdown? We have a Teams channel (I Get Locked Down But I Get Up Again) devoted to sharing links to podcast and playlist recommendations, book and movie suggestions, recipe inspiration... pet pics and pandemic memes also welcome!

Ditch the guilt
I encourage my team to take proper lunch breaks and build micro breaks into the day. I see absolutely no badge of honour in sitting at a laptop for hours and hours without a break. If you want to go and hang your laundry out, or you want to have a cup of tea and sit in the sun for 20 minutes, then you should do it without feeling guilty.

Have boundaries
Without a commute, WFH can feel like it has no start or finish, but a few basic rules can help with this. Of course, there are exceptions that come with global clients and urgent deadlines, but unless essential, at Zeno we try to keep client comms strictly between 8.30am and 5.30pm local time. We avoid external meetings on Monday mornings and Friday afternoons and plan ahead to get everything wrapped up for 3.30pm on Fridays, so the team can enjoy our end-of-week social. This is usually a quiz and a laugh over virtual drinks.

Be kind
One of Zeno’s brand values is Kindness, and never has there been a time when this value has mattered more. We are all dealing with a lot behind the scenes. You might be a single parent cooking, home-schooling and trying (in my case, rather dismally) to keep a house in order, or perhaps a young person living alone, battling loneliness, depression or anxiety. It’s important to be considerate; encourage open conversations around wellness and let it be known that it’s okay to admit when you are finding things tough.

We work as a team and are here to support each other. Along with access to confidential counselling services, Zeno also provides a free annual membership to the Headspace app that teaches meditation techniques for a "happier, healthier, more well-rested life". It’s particularly useful for encouraging gratitude in these trying times. It may sound like a cheesy Instagram post, but gratitude really does have amazing positive mental and physical impacts.

Nothing is going to make up for the lost social interaction that comes from being in an office together, but these simple steps make a huge difference to team morale. At Zeno, our people are our greatest asset. By helping them navigate (and even thrive in) the pandemic workplace, we set them up for success, which means our clients get the best level of client service - whatever the lockdown status.

If this all sounds great, and you’d like to know more, please get in touch - we’re hiring! Email

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