The WOW effect – creating connection when people are feeling isolated

Heather Schossig

by Heather Schossig, Human Resources Director at Centrica

Centrica’s technology team are learning how to co-exist with covid-19 in the long-term. At the start of the pandemic we thought we’d just hunker down, get through this and then get back to normal. It’s clear that’s not going to work and we need to adapt to survive.

One of the ways we are adapting is by increasing the amount of listening we are doing and then acting on what we hear. It’s really clear to us that, whilst there are many, many, benefits to the flexibility working from home has provided for our people and we will probably never return to the office in the same way we did prior to the pandemic, our people are feeling increasingly isolated.

That’s why we’ve launched the ‘WOW’ initiative. The result of a brainstorm between Leonie White, Tara Keatley and I, WOW stands for ‘Wipeout Wednesdays’ – where colleagues take an hour from their day to connect with a colleague. We are not willing to wait for the person who’s feeling isolated to pluck up the courage to reach out, we recognise how hard it is to admit help is needed when you are feeling that way, so instead, WOW is an opportunity to reach in.

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I’ve been blown away by the creativity of our people and delighted to see them using the time to have a chat, go for a distanced wellbeing walk, running quizzes, cookery sessions and more. I’ve personally loved using it as a reason to call someone I don’t know and have a chat, I’ve done a virtual yoga session with a colleague who’s just become a yoga teacher and gone for a remote walk whilst chatting with a colleague who lives 300 miles away. Building in time to reflect, strengthening my network and increasing my step-count is making me better at my job too. It’s super simple, but it’s really making a difference, long may it continue!

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