Louise Aston: The pandemic has taught us to adapt to new ways of working


The Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has brought mental health and wellbeing to the fore, elevating it to the top of the agenda for CEOs and leadership boards. Overnight, the crisis transformed the way we work, but it has also presented an exciting opportunity to reimagine ways of working.

As we transition out of the pandemic, there is a chance to embrace the opportunity for change and build better jobs for our people. We are at the beginning of a new era of ways of working that have the potential to drive sustainable mental health outcomes and enhance personal and organisational resilience.

The pandemic demonstrated that job re-design can be achieved, and quickly. Organisational initiatives that could have taken years were actioned in days. Practices beneficial to wellbeing that were previously thought impossible to implement, such as flexible working from home, have now become the norm for many.

Business in the Community is prioritising ways of working that promote long-term mental health, building on lessons learnt during Covid-19. We are at a unique moment in history and have a once in a lifetime opportunity to pause, reflect and reset how we transform ways of working that maximise resilience and avoid employee burnout.

Employers need to recognise that excessive pressure and workload are the biggest drivers of work-related poor mental health, but that they can tackle the systemic root causes.

This June, Business in the Community is launching an evidence-based white paper, What if your job was good for you?, which will set out how employers can create environments where people feel encouraged to do their best work. It will also support Standard 2 of the Mental health at work commitment, which aims to ‘proactively ensure work design and organisational culture drive positive mental health outcomes’.

Open dialogue and feedback, where colleagues can talk without fear of repercussions, enables employers to address issues quickly and support their people appropriately. Being able to talk openly and to feedback concerns has important benefits for employee mental health and wellbeing, enabling employers to adjust, and for employees to bring their whole self to work.

Imagine the potential impact of happier, healthier and more resilient employees on UK success in terms of competitiveness, both the business and social benefits, that go beyond GDP?

Louise Aston is wellbeing director at Business in the Community