Welcome to Design Council’s weekly journal. This week’s entry is on wellbeing in the woods, ways to support working parents and the first of many firsts.

“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.”

Henry David Thoreau

Subu, Digital Marketing Executive on wellbeing and nature
This has been a bit of a strange week for me. I decided to start taking long walks around my neighbourhood (for about an hour). Luckily, I live in a quiet area so I don’t get to bump into anyone. For the first time in a long time, I realised how relaxing it is to be ‘at one with nature’, and how soothing it is to listen to birds sing.

It reminded me of when Laura Alcock-Ferguson, CEO of Ancient Tree Forum spoke on the difference between social loneliness and emotional loneliness at the Transform Ageing Showcase we hosted to celebrate the end of the pioneering community-led programme. In society, we talk often about social loneliness but we neglect to talk about emotional loneliness, which is often triggered by major life changes. This explains why this period of lockdown is so distressing for many because it’s a potent mixture of both forms of loneliness. However, research shows that mindfulness and nature help to reduce the negative effects of emotional loneliness.

Lauren Currie OBE, Trustee on ways to support working parents
Accept the new reality
It’s time to accept that the traditional 9–5 is dead. This means it’s time to be task-oriented, not time-oriented. Accept (and show your team this acceptance) that parents (as well as non-parents) are entrenched in an extraordinary balancing act. Accept this burden is higher for women in the majority of cases.

Kid-friendly meetings
Let everyone know it’s OK if children appear during calls and meetings. In fact, if kids do appear during a work conversation, take a second to say hello. School-age children, in particular, are keen to understand what parents are doing and maybe craving the social interaction they’re missing from school.

Add a parent code to timesheets
I’m not a fan of timesheets at all but I know they are still a reality for many. You might want to add a “parenting” code to your timesheets so parents can record 40 hours or whatever they work per week, without worrying that every minute they parent needs to be “made up” with additional work in the evenings. Read the full article on LinkedIn.

Kirsty, A&BE Project Manager on time travel
In the last 8 days, I’ve attended my first online Passover (home office/Seder plate pictured), first online quiz, first online lecture, first online “cinema” (browsing through the BFI’s free back catalogue), first online Shakespeare Globe theatre play, first online National Theatre play, and first online dinner party.

Needless to say, I didn’t get very far with the Shakespeare, and all of the events with friends and family were full of technical problems and just about made possible by Zoom’s wonderful “mute all” function! Of course, these online events in no way replicate the real experience of a noisy family dinner, the buzz of a full pub at quiz time, or the excitement of the “curtain up” moment at the theatre. However, they have allowed me to experience far more in just 1 week than any normal week of my pre-COVID life, the money saved on drinking and eating out has been invested in a new hoover (yay), and they have provided me with small things to look forward to, to break up the week, and ensure that the weekends and evenings feel different to the weekdays. Whilst (like everyone I’m sure) I can’t wait to go back to hugging my friends and family when I see them, and doing things that don’t involve a screen, for now, I am trying to enjoy this extraordinary sense of time travel that the internet is providing.

The views and opinions expressed in this journal are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of Design Council.

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