Around the World in 63 days

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Sarah Draper


Sarah Draper


People & Culture
Market Insights

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As the world-wide pandemic has changed our working and living environments, Chartered Building Surveyor, Will Tresidder, discusses how exercise and looking after your wellbeing has helped to adapt to the new norm and not lose touch with others during these different times.

Since March 23rd 2020 and that unprecedented speech by Boris, my LinkedIn feed has not stopped advising me on how to keep in touch with my networks, how to host the perfect virtual coffee morning and not forgetting the all-important breakdown of this season’s zoom call fashion must-haves.

The advice from various industry experts, marketing gurus and the property press was mainly focused on the generation of new business and how to maintain existing income streams. All relevant and beneficial but it seemed there was little consideration into the welfare of the people actually delivering these services in a new virtual environment.

With this in mind I wanted to share my personal experience of the lockdown to date and how RLB UK as a business has put as much focus on the nurturing of its people as their client relationships through this challenging period.

The first week was tough, in particular living on your own in a city centre apartment.

The sudden lack of social interactions both in and out of the office became abruptly evident and the stark realisation about the uncertainty of the length of lockdown sunk in.

Despite the weekly catch-up and virtual Friday socials with my work team, family and friends it became apparent that I wasn’t the only one missing engagement and human contact. All of us had had a shock to the system as the daily routine we were so accustomed to was thrown into disarray. The morning coffee, lunch time stroll, weekend run or meal out all vanished with no real appreciation of when they would return.

Luckily there was a glimmer of hope, our daily exercise! Daily walks, runs, cycles and yoga were embraced and the nation rekindled its love affair with exercise. The lack of commuting and slower pace of life meant we all had more time to look after ourselves physically and mentally.

Reinforcing the importance of looking after our physical and mental health, at RLB we created RLB Active, formed to provide a network to encourage both our people and our clients to engage with each other in a way the company hadn’t seen before.  Healthy competition followed with colleagues striving to be part of the team that came out on top, sharing photos of their favourite runs or cycles and achieving both individual and team goals.

We saw an immediate uptake of 100 of our colleagues in the first week alone and were pushing 150 by the following week.  An initial idea to encourage wellbeing quickly saw teams totting up over 100 collective exercise hours in any one week.

Our offices across the UK embraced the initiative from the get-go, with offices creating their own regional competitions, virtual runs and team targets including 10km charity runs, raising much needed funds in challenging times.

Our weekly business-wide webcast updates delivered by our Chief Executive became populated with special mentions such as when our colleague, Alex Morgan, an Associate in our National Commissions team, literally put “RLB” on the map during a cycle route, or when Paul Batchelor, Partner in our Sheffield office, rowed 72km in a week, equivalent to the English channel twice over. Leaderboards and standing updates became heavily anticipated so offices could plan the following week.

We soon realised that the output of the business was far exceeding our expectations which led us to upping the stakes – so we set ourselves a new goal, let’s see if we can exercise the entire circumference of the world. 9 weeks later we smashed it. 180 people, over 9 weeks totalling 45,000km through running, cycling and walking. What a mammoth achievement and testament to the hard work and attitude of our people.

With a staggering 1 in 6 people experiencing mental health issues, a statistic that will have only been magnified under lockdown it was apt that the final week of the RLB Active initiative fell during Mental Health Awareness Week.

The initiative created a platform where relationships were nurtured and developed on a regional and national basis, inter office rivalry remained (just) friendly and colleagues began interacting more and building new connections with each other and with clients. The weekly updates, daily exercises and mini competitions provided much needed structure and connection in a period of flux both personally and professionally.

For me personally, RLB Active increased my connection with colleagues even more, created a fun engagement with clients and definitely helped to clear the head. It highlighted even more the importance of looking after yourself physically and mentally whilst staying in touch and supporting each other.

As we continue to all find a new norm amongst the challenges we are facing, RLB Active has become a permanent fixture of RLB UK’s wellbeing programme complementing the other resources and initiatives we have available for our people.

As lockdown eases I only see RLB Active becoming more prevalent as a way to interact both with my colleagues and with clients. Being connected to my clients via Strava has only strengthened relationships and I look forward to one day very soon arranging a weekend bike ride with colleagues, clients and friends alike finished with a nice cold drink.