Abcam is a global company supporting scientists at the forefront of life science research, accelerating breakthroughs that can positively impact people’s lives. They  provide the life sciences community with the proteomic tools and solutions they need to accelerate their next breakthrough and help translate them into new discoveries, in vitro diagnostics or potential therapies.

Abcam’s 'Learning at Work Week On Air, Online' was part of a 'people first' wellbeing initiative to support employees working remotely across the globe as a result of the pandemic. Digital learning was used as a ‘vehicle of care’ supporting people as they went through their own personal journey from dealing with uncertainty and change, through re-establishing calm and building resilience and finally moving into recovery to find balance and joy.

The concept was called 'Learning Hugs' - daily doses of learning supported by technology that spoke to the common experience of being in lockdown. The hugs were launched during 'Learning at Work Week On Air, Online' and were available for a whole month.  'Learning Hugs' dealt with practical matters like getting to grips with new technology, coping with sudden change and work demands, personal wellness and emotional regulation. As the lockdown experience brought digital learning into the spotlight, Abcam used “Learning Hugs” as a rapid response to support everyone through this time. 

To create the 'Learning Hugs', Abcam curated information from a range of different providers and sources to generate digital content around a topic of choice. Each hug included high-quality bite-size content, abstracts, videos and actionable summaries designed to help employees learn at speed in an enjoyable way.

The content was accessible from any device, on-demand, and was promoted every day via Abcam’s Discovery intranet channel with dedicated Yammer chatlines to encourage discussion and feedback.

The company started by covering “essentials for survival” that were practical and supportive such as 'creating virtual coffee breaks', 'switching from Skype to MS Teams' and 'personal effectiveness tips when working at home'. We also sent 'Learning Hugs' to parents with ideas and inspiration from '100 things to do with a cardboard box', to 'talking about COVID-19 for anxious children'. As days went on, the company moved on to topics aimed at re-energising colleagues, stimulating curiosity and supporting recovery. Examples include 'bringing the outside in with virtual walks and tours', 'exploring the power of music' and offering suggestions for reflection and mindfulness, such as journaling and meditation. Finally, the company used “Learning Hugs” as a conduit to bring back joy through resources focusing on remembering the blue sky, the importance of community and getting brain fit.

Across the month of 'Learning Hugs', the content was accessed over 13,000 times which contributed to support co-workers and re-invigorate the social tissue at Abcam. It also made learning a part of everyday life and promoted good practices. Both 'Learning at Work Week On Air, Online' and 'Learning Hugs' have contributed to maintain Abcam’s high engagement and retention scores at a challenging time. As a reflection of its numerous and continuous efforts, Abcam has been recognised in multiple occasions for its COVID-19 response.