By Benjamin Koellmann
Kuala Lumpur, Nov 22: We live in unprecedented times, where working from home and being isolated from friends and family for long periods of time have become the norm. The past two years have required quite a bit of adjustment, whereby work and personal life became intricately intertwined. Many of us have had to juggle between our personal life while handling tight deadlines and often increased workloads in our professional lives.
As humans, we are social beings by nature. We thrive in the presence of others, and social interactions are crucial for our psychological and physical health. While the workforce started working remotely in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, expectations remain the same, or even higher, as some businesses are struggling to survive while others are trying to capitalise on unprecedented growth opportunities driven by the massive shifts in consumer behaviour during this pandemic.
At Carsome, we understand that this can be challenging for our team members, especially those with a family needing care. As such, I was glad to become one of the champions of our Self-care Month throughout October this year, in honour of World Mental Health Day held last month. Here is a summary of what fellow Carsomers were up to, in the spirit of #CarsomeCares:
Normalising Discussions on Mental Health
Mental health issues are no stranger among employees across all organisational levels. According to news sources, more people reported at least one symptom of a mental health condition in the past year. We want fellow Carsomers to feel empowered in asking for help if they are struggling. So, we scheduled various mental health talks throughout last month to spread awareness and shed some light on relevant mental health topics that could benefit all of us.
Our team members are the backbone of Carsome, and they’ve been an integral part of growing the business to where it is today. We want to support them in any way we can, especially in regards to their mental health.
Mental Health Support
An important takeaway of the COVID-19 pandemic is that support for mental health went from a nice-to-have to a true business imperative. Besides having talks, we wanted to extend the support into something more tangible. That’s why we partnered with Doctor Anywhere to provide a Mental Health Self-Assessment Tool for Carsomers to assess and recognise signs of anxiety.
To take this one step further, we also paid for team members wanting a consultation with a psychotherapist. We understand that anyone can be affected, and we want to provide the necessary mental health support for our team members so that they don’t have to worry about the cost. We were glad to hear that close to 300 team members have benefitted from the self-assessment tool. Additionally, more than 10 were able to get the help they needed from a professional.
In the true spirit of #CarsomeCares, our HR teams across all of our markets worked tirelessly to put together well-curated care packages and sent them out to all 2,000 plus Carsome employees. It was heartwarming to see all of the excited photos and videos featuring these care packages that were being shared by team members all across the region.
Movement for the Soul
Physical activities have been proven to help increase the production of the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. With that in mind, we organised classes that cater to the mind, body, and soul for Carsomers to join throughout the month.
Team members who have not met each other also had the opportunity to break the ice, get to know one another better, and bond while doing these activities together. Some of our team members broke a sweat practising yoga with renowned Malaysian artist Atilia Haron, who is also an avid yoga practitioner and instructor. Others joined in on the origami fun and folded away their stress and worries by making origami curry puffs and bunnies.
Mental Health Days
It is not easy to juggle between work and personal lives as we continue working from home. Despite that, Carsomers have gone above and beyond to ensure that tasks and deadlines are completed and work continues during the pandemic. As such, we declared dedicated “mental health days” with specific activities for both individuals and teams.
On every other Wednesday, teams are encouraged to gather and bond through fun activities outside of work. I was excited to see many of the teams organising Wellness Wednesdays activities and having so much fun during those virtual get-togethers. Carsomers gathered virtually for karaoke or word game sessions, among others, fueling creativity and encouraging them to connect despite the physical distance.
The pandemic helped coin the term “Zoom fatigue” and I can relate to this as my days are frequently packed with back-to-back meetings. So there was no surprise on my immediate buy-in for Freedom Fridays, a.k.a. no-meeting Fridays, which took place on alternate Fridays in October. Freedom Fridays gave our team the chance to focus on serious work activities that require minimal interruptions. It also allowed team members to recharge and plan deliverables for the next week. Personally, I found Freedom Fridays very productive, ultimately putting pressure on other meetings to be more focused, efficient, and goal-oriented.
Make it #CarsomeCares
The activities for our Self-care Month were guided by our #CarsomeCares spirit and aimed at helping Carsomers weather any situation. We want our team members to know that we care about their wellbeing, and we understand that they do some of their best work when they are happy and fulfilled. Tough times don’t last, but tough people do – so to fellow Carsomers and everyone else out there, stay strong and take care of yourself. We will get through this together!
About the author: Benjamin Koellmann is the chief operating officer for Carsome.This is an opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this publication.
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