The following article was written by my friend Tessa Marchington of Music In Offices. We got chatting about employee wellbeing and two topics close to my heart: music and bringing our authentic selves to work, so I asked her to write about what they do. I hope you find this interesting.
This pandemic has thrown up a question - what is the new role and purpose for all our office space? Whilst working from home for some has cut out the commuter time and created efficiency with meetings, for others it has been a very tough road to tread, with feelings of isolation, depression and the distant communication creating a sense of apathy.
Physical working spaces need to adapt to a new role: that of a hybrid space allowing for virtual working and a physical cultural and social centre which will fuel new ideas, better work/life balance and a healthy workforce. And the subject of our specialism, music, is a fantastic activity to have in the mix to encourage wellbeing and a sense of balance all year round for employees.
What exactly is wellbeing? It’s health, happiness but fundamentally it is a sense of fulfillment and the workplace now needs to be able to provide individuals with the opportunity to find and improve their own sense of fulfillment.
Music in Offices enhances employee engagement and wellbeing through workplace choirs, instrumental lessons, band sessions and team building performances. Music is an immediate, almost primal, way to bring together your colleagues, and create an activity around a shared purpose which people can connect to personally.
With people questioning their time, their own quality of life and their own purposes, employers need to redefine their culture with clarity and a focus on the health and wellbeing of their people.
Having the opportunity to sing or play an instrument brings people to the office with a spring in their step. Whether their lessons have been online or will begin to be in person onsite again, they allow people to have some time out from their busy working day and do something creative for themselves.
96% of our pupils said that they feel LESS stressed after they have had their music lesson(MIO survey Jan 2019). One of our singing pupils at Holman Fenwick Willan, (HFW) Elinor Pinnegar, says “I see my singing lessons as therapy from a stressful day for me. They help me to feel relaxed, refreshed and revitalised.”
In singing lessons we discuss posture and the need to release tension, especially in the face, to enable a better sound. That release and the associated relaxation is one of the benefits of singing lessons. When you are working at a desk all day, singing lessons in the middle of the day are such a great tonic.
One of my piano pupils is Simon Levine, Global Co-CEO of DLA Piper. Simon places a lot of emphasis on wellbeing at the firm and says,
“Instrumental lessons through Music in Offices give people space, time out and helps them focus on their own wellbeing which is so important. I really value music and love having piano lessons.”
Simon Levine & Tessa Marchington (Photo: Emile Holba)
Singing together in a choir is powerful and creates a collective sense of wellbeing. Whether this is a weekly choir session or a one off team building session to boost people’s morale, making music together extends networks and makes people feel part of a community as well as boosting confidence and being a lot of fun! One choir member at Aviva said, “Singing with the Choir is very uplifting. It’s a great way of meeting other people in the company and to learn a new skill is so good for wellbeing.”
The positive benefits of learning a new skill cannot be underestimated. Focusing on the process rather than the end results is something that often gets overlooked in the workplace when we have to deliver to project deadlines and other people’s expectations. Being able to switch off from these pressures of work and focus on learning something for yourself gives you such a personal sense of achievement which is essential to our confidence and state of mind.
To transfer this to the team can be a very powerful way to create a collective sense of wellbeing. Wellbeing and productivity go together and the health benefits of singing are well documented. Singing boosts the immune system, your lung capacity improves, your sleep is much better, you release endorphins into your system which make you feel energized and uplifted. Singing together with your colleagues therefore has to be a positive thing! And if your colleagues are in good health then reducing absenteeism will be beneficial to the bottom line of the business too.
The Norton Rose Fulbright choir after a performance at St John’s Smith Square