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By Natalie Owen, HR Advisor

Recently, we have all had to adapt in some way or another and change the way we live our lives. From working at home and managing what that means for us – being alone or having to juggle family and work life under the same roof, to the choices we have to make socially; to self-isolating and social distancing and becoming more self-aware. We’re becoming physically and emotionally more aware of things we didn’t know were important to us before the impact of COVID-19. One of these things, for a lot of people, is human connection.

We’re social animals and our friendships and connections with other people matter. Building strong, broader social connections can increase feelings of belonging, happiness, reduce levels of stress and improve self-confidence. Social connectedness is a key driver of wellbeing and resilience as it plays an important role in many peoples lives, from getting advice on big decisions to receiving support during hard times. Haseltine Lake Kempner is full of strong social connections, with most colleagues having been with the Firm for 5+ years, supporting and seeing each other grow within the business. It’s something that sets us apart from some other businesses and something we are keen to keep hold of during this time of remote working.

Although there are lots of ways to care for our mental health and wellbeing, one that we are focusing on at HLK is staying connected to each other during these isolating times. As a business everyone is pulling together in this effort. Our management team are supportive, transparent and open with communication – this plays a huge role in reinforcing the HLK community spirit. Our IT team have made heroic efforts in ensuring every colleague has the necessary equipment and technology to feel comfortable in their new work surroundings, offering on-going training and support to make the most of the tools we have for staying connected. HR have created a virtual space where ideas on fitness, mindfulness, recipes, games, arts and crafts, music etc are shared, and where people can share their ideas. Some ideas shared are around wellbeing, some are generally above activities to keep occupied, but all are through the medium of connectedness. This virtual hangout was set-up with the sole purpose of encouraging social connection and so far, we have received a positive response. In turn, colleagues and teams are supporting one another all while we learn a little bit more about one another, as video calling allows us to virtually invite colleagues into our homes and home lives.

Because of the strong social connections and sense of community within HLK, we recognise that each colleague is individual and has an individual set of circumstances relating to the impact of COVID-19 on home life, work life and social life. Some colleagues may be concerned for their health or the health of a loved one, some are learning to be alone, while others are learning how to live in lockdown with their families, there are many that will miss the buzz of the HLK offices and some who see the positives in not having a long daily commute. Around the world millions of people are affected by COVID-19 but by recognising our colleagues and their needs/circumstances as individual it allows us to provide ideas and suggestions around mental health that might work for some while other ideas may work for others, all while keeping our focus on connectedness and the HLK community that we’re proud of.