Discussing Work Wellbeing With Louise Padmore

Wellbeing at work is a still a very hot topic right now and if you read this blog regularly you'll know it's something I'm personally very passionate about. So I try to cover different ideas and practitioners in this area as often as possible. 

Work-life balance might seem like a myth to some but it doesn't have to be. It doesn't necessarily mean working less hours as for many that simply isn't an option. What is becoming increasingly clear though, is that employers need to start offering more balance and wellbeing in the working environment to help to build a healthier and happier workforce.

Photograph: Work Well Being

Photograph: Work Well Being

There are many fantastic organisations out there trying to help employers do just that and help employees find a better balance. So today I'm really pleased to bring you a discussion with Louise Padmore, one of the Founders of Work Well Being. An organisation aiming to bring wellbeing to you in your workplace. Offering yoga, mindfulness, life-coaching and a number of other alternative therapies. Today Louise shares what led her to set up the organisation, how they got started and just what they have on offer. So let's begin ...

 

Hi Louise. Please could you tell me a little more about the idea behind Work Well Being and how the company initially came about?

Our mission is to change the way we work, based on the belief that when you feel well, you work well. We bring wellbeing to the heart of London workplaces, supporting them to plan, implement and evaluate employee wellbeing programmes and events. 

The idea came about after having spent over 12 years working in media, advertising and sponsorship, struggling to find balance with a demanding and ’successful’ career. I observed how working life was creeping into more and more aspects of my life, eating up any ‘free’ time that I once had, and as a result impacting on my health, relationships and general sense of wellbeing. 

Simultaneously I had stumbled upon yoga, and having never really found a form of exercise that worked for me, I embraced the practice quickly, initially for the physical gratification that came with becoming leaner and stronger. It was only after several months of practice that I began to become aware of the impact yoga was having on my greater self, the mental and the spiritual. I witnessed as I grew calmer, less anxious, less fearful, more grateful and my personal relationships improved. Yet despite the abundance of good that I knew practising yoga delivered for me, my work life meant that even committing to one class per week was a struggle. 

I began to ponder an alternative way, if I was expected to be ‘always on’ and available outside of the standard working day, then surely it was only fair that some of that time be given back during office hours? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if employers actively supported and encouraged time for restoration and renewal as part of the working day, and acknowledged the benefits that this can bring not only to the mental and physical health of the individual, but also to the success and productivity of the business? And so Work Well Being was born, with the knowledge and belief that when you feel well, you work well, and when you work well, you feel well. Simple really!

Photograph: Work Well Being

Photograph: Work Well Being

What services do Work Well Being offer and why do you believe they are so important?

Our full day immersive wellbeing events incorporate practices of yoga, mindfulness, nutrition, life coaching, inspirational talks and alternative therapies. We also work with some workplaces on a longer term basis, delivering regular wellbeing sessions, e.g. weekly yoga classes. We have an extensive network of teachers, who we work with to curate the programmes and deliver the experiences. 

What I identified is that quite often there is a willingness on behalf of workplaces to offer their employees wellbeing programmes, but they fall down in doing so due to a lack of knowledge or the time and resource to deliver such a programme. Equally from a teacher’s perspective, it can be challenging and time consuming to develop relationships with corporate clients, and often a workplace will be looking for more than just one individual offering one service. The services we offer therefore take the hassle away from a workplace perspective, and generally make it a whole lot easier for them to deliver on their willingness to look after their employees. From our perspective, we are able to open their world to a whole new client base. 

Photograph: Work Well Being

Photograph: Work Well Being

What is it that led to you personally getting involved in such a venture - could you tell us a little about the background and skills that led you to this role? 

My personal turning point, which gave me the final push I needed to act upon my belief that feeling well, leads to working well, and the gap I had identified for our services, was some forced time off work due to ill health. I sadly suffered an ectopic pregnancy, and whilst not directly related to or caused by the pressures of my career, the time out gave me the headspace I had needed for several years. I chose never to return to work after that space, and leapt into the unknown with no real plan other than knowing that I had to find a way to make my dream a reality. 

I knew I needed someone to collaborate with on this journey. I'm a firm believer that two heads are always better than one! The obvious person was my friend and ex-colleague Abby. We shared many of the same frustrations with trying to achieve balance with a professional career, as well as a passion for yoga and other wellbeing practices and the transformative power these can have. We also knew that we worked successfully together, with our skill set being very complimentary. Abby’s background like mine was marketing and sponsorship with live music. Our experience and skills meant that we had the knowledge of how to plan and run amazing experiences and events, how to collaborate with clients to exceed against a given brief, first hand experience of the challenges and pressures of working in this wonderful city of ours, plus an extensive network of the very best wellbeing practitioners in London today. 

Photograph: Work Well Being

Photograph: Work Well Being

What is it that you love most about the work you do and what does a typical day involve? 

What I love the most is the belief that what we are doing will help others from feeling the need to retreat from their careers. Far too many talented and gifted individuals are being forced out of the traditional sense of ‘work’ because the generally accepted working patterns and behaviours have become unhealthy. 

To get Work Well Being off the ground, I currently still need to freelance on other projects a couple of days a week. On the days that I dedicate to the growth and development of Work Well Being these can involve anything from pitching to new workplace clients, briefing our designer on new collateral to create for an event, engaging the support of brand partners, or chatting with Abby about new targets and opportunities. My focus is on the acquisition of new workplace clients, and all of our brand building and marketing, whereas Abby focuses on our relationships with teachers and the overall operations and finances of the business - for us it presents the ideal split, best suited to both of our strengths and skills. 

What are the challenges that you face in the work that you do and how do you manage them? 

One of the biggest challenges we face is in helping workplaces to understand the return on investment of offering their employees wellbeing. The rise of more and more high profile advocates for the services we offer, such as Arrianna Huffington and Richard Branson, is definitely helping to increase awareness and make the business case clearer. There is lots of research that we draw on and present to our clients, and we also offer an employee feedback service at the end of our programmes to try and track enjoyment and impact of the practices. 

Photograph: Work Well Being

Photograph: Work Well Being

If you could give one piece of starting advice to someone trying to find better balance in their lives what would it be?

My single biggest piece of advice to someone trying to find balance within their working life would be to trust your instincts and remain firm and courageous in your need for space and time for wellbeing.

I know that this is often much easier said than done but, for me personally, now that I look back there were lots of little warning signs pointing me to the conclusion that the path I was on wasn’t working for me. I wasn’t eating well, didn’t feel particularly engaged around those I love, was incessantly scrolling through my phone often even without any real sense for what I was searching for, wasn’t sleeping well and just generally had a sense that all was not right. I do think that perhaps if wellbeing during the working day had been made available to me, then things could have been different. 

What do you personally do to try and achieve a good work-life balance?

For me, a good work-life balance means not having to be fixed to a desk at the same times Monday to Friday. I need the flexibility to choose to work at times and in places that work for me. I appreciate that this is a luxury not always possible, but I think more and more employers are acknowledging that such rigid working patterns do not work for all, and there seems to be more of a sense of openness to consider alternative requests. At the beginning of my week I also always make sure to schedule in my diary the times of yoga classes that I will attend that week, times for catching up with friends or calling family, and time for my own free choice of doing whatever takes my fancy, be that reading, shopping or doing absolutely nothing! I treat these appointments as I would an important meeting with a client, and try my very best to never cancel or reschedule. 

What does the future hold for Work Well Being and what is it that you and your colleagues are most excited about in the upcoming months? 

I hope that the future for Work Well Being is very bright, obviously! We are currently pitching to lots of new clients, and we’ve been hugely encouraged and motivated by the feedback and support we’ve received so far. Our aim is to be able to offer our services to more and more workplaces and individuals, and we look forward to being able to make a positive impact and change on the way we all work.

 

Thank you so much to Louise for sharing her thoughts and insight here on the blog today.

I especially love her advice for maintaining your own work-life balance, that being firm and courageous in what you know are your own needs for remaining healthy and happy should be a top priority. After all if your health and wellbeing is suffering then how can you be a motivated and productive employee for your employer. I hope that we see many more companies take up such programs over the coming years. 

If you would like to learn more and keep up to date with all that is going on with Work Well Being you can find them on:

Twitter: @workwell_being

Instagram: workwellbeing 

Plus let me know what your thoughts are on the subject. Do you believe in work-life balance? Do you feel that wellbeing in the workplace is important and attainable or does it seem like a way too distant fantasy for you in your working life? I'd love to know what you think about this topic and any further points that may be useful to discuss here on the blog in future.

Have a lovely Monday all.

Louise