Wellness Day

PAG Staff2023, Interview, Leadership, wellbeing


Wellness: Away Day to the Isle of Arran

After two excellent quarters, it was time for the Growth team to take a well-earned day away from their desks. High performance can breed burn out and this is never truer than in a hybrid/work-from-home (WFH) company where in-person time can come at such a premium. Although PAG does have an office space, we are spread across the UK and Europe. Face-to-face contact is a valuable and limited commodity, and this is why the Growth team makes a conscious decision to use our limited in-person time to reconnect, socialise, and refocus. PAG is a Great Place to Work and proud of it, scoring in the top 100 for Wellness, and it’s vitally important that we live those values as a company. With summer solstice just around the corner, it was time to close the laptops and get back to the land.

Vince Taylor (Marketing Executive)

‘Wellness’ as a concept seems to be a relatively new one, but is this the reality?

Everywhere you turn, companies and brands are telling you to take a break from the endless scrolling or typing on your phone or laptop to… try their wellness app?

There seems to be a disconnect here.

The idea of wellness, peace, serenity; whichever word you choose to describe it, is not new, it’s simply now becoming more acceptable to give yourself room to breathe in an increasingly claustrophobic world, and, unfortunately, more profitable to claim that you practice this as a company.
As a primarily WFH organisation, you could argue that PAG employees have a better chance than most to maintain their wellness as they are not necessarily fighting through things like traffic or office politics on a daily basis. However, when issues such as feeling isolated or lacking a personal connection with your colleagues arise, they can be more difficult to rectify when face-to-face time is so limited.
How then, do you ensure that a diasporic team remains on task, stays connected and engaged with each other, and feels as though their efforts are being recognised?
We decided that the best way to do this would be to provide a space in which proven methods of improving wellness and mental and physical health took centre stage; sunshine, exercise, socialising, and new experiences.

Wellness cannot be forced and is not a one size fits all concept. My version of it will look considerably different to yours. By providing a space in which your team can bond organically rather than undertaking a forced ‘team building’ exercise, you allow personalities to shine through naturally. A shared experience goes a long way to building relationships, and by improving your team dynamic this way, you improve the ties between team members as people and ultimately, your team as a whole.
"By providing a space in which your team can bond organically, you allow personalities to shine through naturally."

On a personal level, the opportunity to visit the Scottish Highlands for the first time and spend a day exploring an environment that was completely new to me was very appealing. Pursuits such as walking my dog or regularly playing sports help me to maintain my wellness outside of work, and I knew this would be something I would thoroughly enjoy. Professionally, being shown that my work is recognised is a huge confidence boost, and having the chance to give my team new experiences is incredibly gratifying.

Gabriel Senior (Partnerships Executive)

As someone who spends a lot of my free time inside making music and playing video games, this trip was a much-needed outdoor break. Spending in-person time with my awesome colleagues is always a pleasure, especially when we mostly work together virtually. The wellness day provided a perfect balance of exercise, nice food, good times, and natural beauty to ensure I came back to my desk re-energised and keen to get going again.

Gavin MacDonald (Researcher)

The wellness day was very beneficial for me, given the relentless pace and deadline-driven nature of our work. In an environment that can often be stressful, the absence of face-to-face interactions due to working remotely means you can often feel lonely with these feelings. However, this wellness trip served as a perfect antidote, fostering camaraderie as we found ourselves reminiscing over the challenging times we've overcome together. This reflection was instrumental in highlighting the depth of our team bonding through these projects, an aspect we could genuinely appreciate while immersed in the beautiful scenery of Arran during one of Scotland’s few days of summer.

The trip provided a much-needed escape, a serene haven that allowed me to detach from ongoing projects. Admittedly, my tendency to fixate on work-related matters is a trait I struggle with, but the tranquillity of the trip allowed me to disconnect and recharge. Strategically planned in the middle of the week, it effectively broke up the routine, instilling a sense of calmness that has since remained during my daily work life.
Notably, since our return, I've witnessed a boost in my productivity levels. The shared experience, the memorable moments with my colleagues, have deepened my commitment to support them continually and uphold a high standard of work. This wellness day served not just as a break, but a refresher, a rejuvenator, inspiring a more relaxed and yet, productive work ethos in me.
"For a day at least, stand under a new patch of sky."

By Land, Air and Sea
Some thoughts on Wellness Days by Alex Cornish (Managing Consultant for Growth)

I still remember the acute horror when someone suggested I might feel closer to my colleagues if we all threw axes in a Soho basement. “Team building” was out and every corporate fun warehouse or country retreat was madly rushing to rebrand as an opportunity for practising “Wellness”. That suddenly bowling a Fiskars might decrease my chance of burnout felt like the biggest grift going. It still does. Shameless and many are the venues that will sell you this snake oil. Better a team die than throw that axe.

It is that level of external intervention that is antithesis of what I believe a real wellness day is about. Clap Clap! Well done guys now please leave so accounts receivable can come feel well. Creating a space for sincere connection, to recharge and engage about individual and collective wellness is not always easy. It shouldn’t be but if you know your people, you will always be able to do better. Make a plan then ask yourself a real question, is this good?

The best thing you can do is consciously plan a day that separates people from their working environment. We hold our team days in Scotland because I want people to travel, to be placed in new surroundings. For a day at least, stand under a new patch of sky. Besides, a flight or train is the perfect chance to get clear headspace. People should arrive in an place which feels specific to the purpose, so that they can fully focus on the day itself.

And the rest? It doesn’t need to be deeper than ensuring your team have the space and time to connect. Engage the senses, try a different starter, open your head to another point of view. Have another drink. We took a ferry, rode bikes in the sun and had a long lunch. That’s it. If your team is built right, all the rest will flow.