Getting through the pandemic mindfully: “Digital health month” at HCOB

May 2021 – Ongoing video conferences, isolation in the home office and then often the added stress of homeschooling – the coronavirus pandemic is putting the physical and mental health of employees to the test. The Hamburg Commercial Bank is supporting its employees to maintain a healthy balance with the “Digital Health Month”.

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There are also upsides to the coronavirus pandemic. Traffic reports on the radio are often only a few seconds long, because where previously traffic jams reined, the roads are now generally flowing freely during the morning and afternoon commutes. Those who can afford to are working from home – they no longer have to squeeze onto overcrowded buses and trains or line up in their own cars in the traffic jams on the radial highways and arterial roads of the metropolises. “According to a study, an unexpected traffic jam generates the same level of stress that a fighter pilot experiences in service,” said the sociologist Professor Norbert F. Schneider, Director of the German Federal Institute for Population Research, in an interview with “Spiegel” recently.

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Coronavirus adds double the stress, in particular for parents

When taking that into consideration, the stress levels of those no longer needing to commute should be a lot lower. It should be. In reality it's a different story. After more than a year in what feels like non-stop Teams, Zoom, Skype or other video conferences, many Germans have become coronavirus weary. The digital euphoria of the first few weeks and months has turned into unloved routine. People are missing face-to-face conversations with their colleagues. This has a noticeable impact on mood – and with it, on the condition of people's health. It's well-known that healthy mind and healthy body are closely linked. Parents with compulsory school-aged children in particular long for moments to take a deep breath – the double pressure of working from home and homeschooling takes it out of people.

Many employees at the Hamburg Commercial Bank are having to deal with these challenges. And they are managing this very well on the whole. However the Bank and, in particular, the Human Resources department are aware how much the “New Normal” of virtual working and the actual sharing of the kitchen table as an office space with the kids is getting on people's nerves.

This is why the bank is placing greater emphasis on the health of its employees in the “Digital Health Month” in May 2021. This is being made possible with a wide-ranging program: such as back fitness courses for the lower and upper body, which is particularly under strain. In addition to this are yoga sessions or the 15 minute-long “Silent Quarter”, which promotes conscious rest. On request, employees may also take part in various social counseling seminars. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, this cannot take place live and in person and is instead held virtually.

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Nine challenges for more movement

Individual activity is the focus of this. This also applies to the nine challenges, which each employee should complete for their own well-being, and not only during the “Digital health month”. This includes, for example, concentrating on one's own breathing for one minute with eyes closed, taking a 30-minute walk during a lunch break or carrying out the next teleconference while doing a lap around the nearby park. This will turn the merry month of May into a real well-being month.

Hopefully, the healthy lunch snacks, which can be found in the bank's recipe collection, will also contribute to the well-being. Re-cooking is welcome.