The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman designed their virtual Learning at Work Week to bring its people together following a year of remote working for over 450 office-based staff. The team wanted to reconnect colleagues with each other and their teams, to help build a support system, increase collaboration, and help them reconnect with family and friends. The aim was also to support colleagues to reconnect with themselves through learning and focus on their own development needs after the pandemic. 

Colleagues were invited to take part in already pre-scheduled team meetings, to prevent an impact on workload. To encourage learners to get involved, sessions were fun, interactive and ‘bite-size’ at 20 minutes long. They introduced topics that colleagues could explore after with self-development resources and materials. A ‘hobbies at home’ strand of activity highlighted new things that colleagues could try including scuba diving, embroidery and fostering dogs. 

To help colleagues working remotely to feel part of the organisation and more connected, The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group, Pride at PHSO group and other groups delivered sessions to raise awareness of the different communities at work and how to get involved. A Senior Leadership Team Careers session helped reconnect colleagues with the aim of inspiring people to think about their own career development. The Ombudsman also offers careers development through apprenticeships, so the week was used as a platform to promote understanding of apprenticeships as a career path and generate interest. 

For colleagues unable to attend live events, they could instead use resources in team meetings including virtual games and access self-development resources such as the Ombudsman’s Top 20 critical soft skills, and created games and hobbies to do with their family at home. 

The team created a dedicated space to host all the activities and promoted it through a ‘Headlining this Month’ article, the Ombudsman’s internal communication. In direct communication to managers, the team let them know which sessions were running and which team building resources and activities they could use for their team meetings.   

Over 100 colleagues were able to take part in the interactive sessions. Colleagues highly valued the opportunity to personally connect with the Senior Leadership Team, ask questions and learn more about balancing work and family from someone in a senior position. The sessions with the Senior Leadership Team will now run regularly, giving everyone in the organisation the chance to connect with the senior team.  

The week has brought colleagues together to connect and look beyond the pandemic and consider career and development opportunities. It has enabled the team to promote the LMS (Learning Management System) as a resource library and not just a platform for scheduled events. The Ombudsman has demonstrated its commitment and support for a positive work-life balance to build a more resilient organisation, so colleagues can rise to future challenges.