Workplace Mental Health Blog

Over the last few months The Northbank BID have been working with Charlotte Wiseman as part of the South Westminster BIDS Virtual Event Series. Charlotte has put together the below blog post on the topic of social wellbeing in the virtual workplace.


As we have all discovered over the last few months, social wellbeing is a core component of our health. It is integral to our mental, emotional and physical health. We are the most nurture dependent species that has ever existed on the planet so when we don’t have social interactions, we can feel demotivated, self-deprecating, overwhelmed and we are more susceptible to stress from everyday experiences. Not only do our relationships impact our mood but they actually change the structure of the brain. It has even been suggested that social isolation is as bad for us as smoking 15 cigarettes a day!

As we move into a new way of living and working, we must remember that although we are physically distanced, we are not socially distanced. Technology means that we are more connected than ever however, we do need to learn new skills to maintain high quality connections in this remote workspace.

To help you start this learning journey, here are 5 simple tips to optimise your interactions to support your wellbeing, productivity and your community.


  • Video calls and meetings are exhausting, more exhausting that face to face conversations. The reason is that when we meet in person, much of our communication is non-verbal so when we ‘meet’ online our brains need to work a lot harder as it only has verbal information to rely on. This increases our cognitive load, the effort and energy needed to communicate effectively. For this reason, if you are doing lots of calls in a day you need to ensure you are taking enough breaks to counteract that and you need to use your breaks wisely. Simple ways to do so are ensuring you have 5-10 minutes between calls and use this time to take yourself off technology. Looking at your phone or checking emails does not qualify as a ‘break’. Get outside, go for a walk, try some mindfulness or listen to some music. Ensure your evenings also include some tech free time so you are giving your brain the time to refuel and recalibrate between your days.


  • It is important that we connect with people every day, which should include at least one video call as well as any other forms of contact that suit you. Do remember that some people may feel more comfortable with a phone call, rather than a video, so respect that, be adaptive and creative. If you are trying to build a community in your workforce, consider arranging ‘potluck’ coffee dates. Simply pair up people from all levels and departments in the company to have a 15-minute virtual coffee chat. This will get new conversations going and ensure people feel connected. It is particularly powerful if you are trying to onboard people at this time. The downloadable “high quality conversations” worksheet can act as a prompt for such conversations.
  • If you are looking to build a stronger community out of the workplace, make a list of people you would like to connect with. Consider who you can call to celebrate with, to learn from, to be inspired by, to ask for help from or to offer help. Try putting 3 people in each list and working through this over the next few weeks.
  • While doing this, do also remember that if you have been on lots of calls and you need some time away from your computer then it is ok to say No to a request for a call. Kindly decline and if you are happy to then schedule a call for another time.


  • When we are not getting out and about as much as normal, it can feel like we have nothing to chat about. This can feel awkward when speaking with colleagues and friends alike. It can also be hard to be honest when we are feeling down or anxious, particularly if we know we are lucky in many other ways. Regardless of this, it is essential that we have a time and place to express how we are feeling and to acknowledge that “it’s ok to not be ok”. This is what is known as ‘emotional literacy’ and it is a cornerstone of wellbeing and resilience. To make your conversations more powerful, try to be honest about how you are feeling and encourage others to do the same. You may want to ask, “how are you feeling on a scale of 1-10?” and then explore what is contributing to that. You can also explore what the highlight of someone’s week has been as well as the biggest challenge and try to focus on what has been learnt as a result. The current time is an opportunity for great learning and calls are a great catalyst for this. You can download this tips sheet to help you on this path.

The bottom line is that both maintaining our relationships and being innovating in our communication styles is essential at this time. As leaders and team members, this is our opportunity to use this time to build stronger communities, cultivating trust, connecting more honestly and supporting each other. Commit to this now and you will reap the rewards for the long-term.

If you have any further questions or queries please contact Charlotte directly 

We Are Open

With the lift of social distancing requirements and retail businesses reopening from 15 June 2020. The Northbank area is starting to re-open. For those missing the central London atmosphere, the Northbank area is here to welcome you. We’ve created a specialised list of stores, which have re-opened, but with certain measures and varied timings in place on our website. 

Store NameStatus Extra Information
Holland and Barrett – StrandOpen
Waterstones – Trafalgar SquareOpen Opening Times
Mon-Sat (10am – 5pm)
Sun (12pm – 5pm)
Moss : Savoy Taylors Guild Open
Roka AldwychOpenOnly for delivery
Boots Open
Hobbs, Covent Garden Open
The Northbank Business Status

*This information is being updated daily – subject to change.

Cycling through our area

At Northbank BID we are looking in to how we can encourage an uptake in cycling within our footprint, to help improve the air we breathe along with everyone’s health & wellbeing.

Health & Wellbeing:

Cycling is a great form of exercise, having excellent benefits for both physical and mental health. Biking to work, or during the working day, has shown to help staff manage stress & anxiety along with improving mental sharpness throughout the working day.  

With millions of working days lost each year through poor mental health, encouraging more people to take up cycling is a key priority.

Air Quality

The air we breathe has a dramatic impact on our health & wellbeing, reducing the number of vehicles on our roads is crucial to improving air quality. Increasing the numbers of people who cycle to work is just one way to help solve this problem.

Poor air quality can also be a barrier for many to start cycling. One way to combat this is to use quieter and less congested streets when cycling. Switching to these cleaner air routes can reduce the amount of pollution exposure by up to 47%. You can find our cleaner air walking routes here

Tips for Business:

Cargo Bikes

Many companies across London, including Addison Lee, Zedify and City Sprint are now offering cargo bike services. If your business wants to create their own fleet of Cargo Bikes they can be purchased from locations such as CarryMe Bikes.

Using Cargo Bikes is a fast, reliable, and sustainable alternative to using motorized vehicles for variety business needs – from commercial couriers to deliveries. A few of the benefits are:

•             Reliable journeys, especially as the cycle network expands

•             No parking restrictions and requires little space for longer-term parking

•             No fuel costs, and minimal maintenance costs passed to the customer

•             Demonstrates responsible business practice with regard to corporate social responsibility

Cycle to Work Schemes

One way for businesses to encourage their employees to take up cycling is through a ‘Cycle to Work Scheme’. There are several available through companies such as CycleScheme and Bike2Work Scheme.

Through these schemes’ employees can enjoy greatly reduced prices on a new bike. Whilst employers will have a happier, healthier and more productive workforce along with savings of up to 13.8% on employer NI contributions.

Cycle Safety:

Whether you are a seasoned cyclist or a new commuter, Cycle Safety should be a top priority before taking to the saddle.


Good bike maintenance is key to ensuring safety on the roads, regularly checking and cleaning your bike means that any problems can be spotted a lot sooner

Always make sure you carry out a simple M-check before any bike journey to spot anything not quite right before you ride

A wealth of knowledge and practical how-to’s are widely available:  Sustrans, Cycling UK and British Cycling all have produced lots of material well worth reading before getting on your bike.

The South Westminster BID’s will be hosting a Cycle Maintenance and Safety Webinar by Sam Parkes, taking place on the 22nd July 2020

Securing Your Bike

Securing your bike well is vital for stopping bike theft. Westminster City Council provide plenty of tips on how to keep your bike safe, a few top tips include:

  • Lock your bike in a public space where there are people, not out of sight. Preferably in sight of a CCTV camera
  • Lock both the wheel and the frame to the bike stand
  • Remove small items like lights or any parts that are ‘quick release’

Bike marking is an excellent deterrent from cycle theft. Through Bike Register you can add your bike details to the National Police Approved database, and then mark & protect your bike with one of their security marking kits.

Central London Protests

The Northbank BID has a duty of care to update our local businesses and community, regarding protests which happen within the BID footprint. As a working parter with the Metropolitan Police and other authories, we are able to share pieces of information. Please see below:

Protest in central London – 03 June 2020 update

Westminster City Council – Re-opening Hub

Reopening safely: For businesses that are considering reopening on 15 June we’ve put together some guidance to help you to reopen safely. Their reopening hub has guidance on managing queuing arrangements, sample social distancing stencils and markers and also covers specific issues such as risk management of fire, legionella, work and food safety. The Council will continue to keep this advice updated in line with the release of any further Government guidance and as best practice is developed. 

Free bespoke information and guidance: The Westminster Business Unit is now offering bespoke appointments if you need advice on preparing to reopen your business. This is a free service and your appointment can cover a range of issues as businesses move towards reopening safely from 15 June. You can book a 15-minute telephone appointment with the Business Unit by contacting or calling 020 7641 2070. For more information on the service, please visit website.