Asad Dhunna is the CEO of The Unmistakables, a London-based diversity and inclusion agency that aims to help organisations become more representative from the inside out. The business was founded in 2018 and employs 12 members of staff. For Dhunna, staff welfare and supporting employees to lead balanced lives has been his priority during the pandemic.
“We started Lockdown 1.0 by developing Nicerlation: a content series designed to help ourselves, our clients and the broader public by sharing articles on how to make remote working life more bearable. We did this both to support our own mental health and wellbeing and to put our time to good use,” Dhunna says.
Employees check in with one another outside of work or project tasks, as well as in all-team weekly meetings; they are asked to voice their ‘form score’ at the start of the video call. One means someone is feeling low and shouldn’t be working that day, while a score of 10 means the person is feeling great and will radiate energy and good vibes.
The average score is around seven: a sense of doing well while still needing to focus on areas that could improve their day. Dhunna says: “This has generally been well received as it helps us all understand how others are feeling and how we can support one another throughout the week.”
The organisation also sends out care packages at the end of each month. The team can choose between food (meal kits), alcohol (cocktail kits), foliage (plants) or a mental health boost (meditation subscriptions). “The idea came up in a group brainstorm when we decided that providing people with options rather than dictating their choices would be more inclusive, catering to the needs of individual people in their own unique living and working situations,” explains Dhunna.
There has been an equal split between plants and mental fitness to date and the organisation is constantly thinking about how to adapt the options. Play is also encouraged on a Friday afternoon to help people bond and raise a smile in difficult times.
“We recently tried gather.town, a virtual world similar to The Sims, where everyone can run or move around. We’re also currently trialling a ‘phone call first’ internal culture: encouraging people to just pick up the phone rather than schedule Zoom calls if they’re avoidable,” says Dhunna. “The aim is to spark more spontaneity around conversations, rather than feeling the need to schedule time in. It’s early days but one of the biggest benefits will be that we can get away from our desks as talking and walking will be a focus as the weather gets better.”