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Jez's Notebook

A message from Jez about Coronavirus, our farm, workshops and experience days

What’s Happenned

I sat down with my team last week at the farm (socially distanced, of course) and we began to hatch a plan as to how we could make our workshops and experience days work with social distancing measures, in preparation for an announcement from the Government, at some point in the future, that would allow us to invite you here again.

Many of you have purchased – or been gifted by others – places on our 2020 beekeeping, rural craft and gardening workshops and experience days, and we are immensely grateful to you all for your patience and for ‘hanging on’! 

The pizza oven is never ‘closed’ at this time of the year!

Much of the practical elements like how we would arrange the refreshments; changes we’d need to make to our ‘build your own’ pizza lunch, and how we’d ensure everyone was able to keep a reassuring 2 metres from others, were all simply thought out. I’ll be honest with you

Position Statement on the Engagement and Management of Organisational Culture for a Post-COVID-19 Workplace

Position Statement on the Engagement and Management of Organisational Culture for a Post-COVID-19 Workplace

Published May 2020 by Amy Brann, neuroscience advisor and Jez Rose, broadcaster and behaviour insight advisor

Earlier in May 2020, Amy and I ran a free webinar for the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Professional Development), Confessions of a Neuroscientist and Behaviourist, which you can watch again here. A number of questions came up from viewers (which we’ve answered at the end of this article), along with a clear need for clarity and guidance.

The disruption to workplace environments and working practices as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted organisations from all sectors, of all sizes, across the world.

Understandable knee-jerk reactions were made at the time of an uncertain developing crisis, which have created

Nature Works – culture, leadership and COVID-19

The Government has encouraged greater connection with the outdoors as part of its national COVID-19 coping strategy.

Going for walks, gardening, outdoor exercise and even “sitting on a park bench” have all been encouraged by the Government as part of its national coping strategy with the unprecedented impact and changes associated with the Corona virus.

For me and no doubt many other psychologists, health advisors, gardeners and proponents of wellbeing it has been both encouraging and joyful to see so many more people interacting with and connecting with the great outdoors.

Even if you are without a garden of your own, when there’s little else to do and with restrictions on socialising and physical movement over a sustained period of time, many more people have become

Nature Works – two key questions

What are we doing?

In my keynote presentation I display several images of real scenes from around the world. They’re each poignant, and snapshots of moments I don’t think most of us would be proud to know that we’re a part of or have contributed to.

A seal looks at the camera, its neck restricted by some plastic it has become caught up in; a controversial country leader grins proudly; a surfer rides a huge wave among plastic, litter and pollution; a homeless person, cold and hungry pleads as passers by ignore him; a forest felled for its wood, animals fleeing from what was once their home. These scenes, and many much closer to home, or witnessed in the news and reported by the world’s media, often lead us to ask: “what are we doing?”. Which is frequently followed up with: “why are we doing it?”. Those questions are easy to ask from the comfort of a sofa, distanced from the reality and without any real, purposeful questioning as to how we might be cause of some of those problems.

However, those two questions: “what are we doing?” and “why are we doing it?” are questions that I encourage all businesses I work with to apply to as many points of their systems and processes, and indeed the decisions they make and even with interactions with their colleagues – as often as possible. Stop; pause for a moment and seek a sense check. We don’t stop often often; we don’t pause when we absolutely can, without any detrimental effect. But nature does. Winter time is a stark and harsh reminder; not simply a metaphor but a real-world, active reminder, that pausing can often be a period of renewal. To reset if that’s required, but also just to review. By all means continue as you were, but give yourself the opportunity as an individual, or as a business, to ask yourself what on earth you are doing, and why you are doing it.

Gardening sees us nurturing something that’s living, and growing. It is often vicariously dependent on us. It never ends; a continual process, which gently offers planning for the future, and hope. But more importantly it connects us with nature. Evidence shows us that gardeners are happier than those who do not garden* and those who are active in other ways (running, swimming etc) also rate as happier. Physical activities and connecting with nature make us happier. Yet so many of us, at home and at work, sit, indoors, and without any real connection to the nature world. Perhaps not enough people know this, as we seem still so drawn to information, stimulation and entertainment at our fingertips – digital content appeals to our innate, human laziness.

Businesses can create more engaged, effective, and happier workforces by asking two simple questions: “what are we doing?”, and “why are we doing it”?.

 

*BBC Gardener’s World magazine ‘Happiness Report’ [2013]

Nature Works:

Nature works on our brain at a neurological level, improving not only our happiness and calmness but our ability to concentrate and be productive.

There are many, many simple ways that businesses can engage better with nature for the benefit of not only employee wellbeing, but organisational culture – and even leadership.

Some of those are direct methods, such as gardening clubs, growing or including plants or images of nature into work areas, while others are more academic: applying the lessons and logic from nature directly into business structure or roles. For example, the adaptability, problem solving and teamwork characteristics of a honeybee colony are enlightening, practical and effective. You don’t have to dress up as a honeybee.

There is, however, nothing quite like getting your hands dirty when it comes to wellbeing and boosting happiness, and it’s got something to do with the soil microbes. Part of the natural life cycle, and critical to our species survival, soil (that includes compost) is teeming with life. It’s important for plants’ nutrients and an essential part of the ecosystem. In much the same way that skin is to humans. Scientists have shown how having physical contact with soil exposes our skin to Mycobacterium vaccae; a bacterium that is shown to have similar effects as Prozac and other antidepressants on human mood. Contact with soil causes an increase in cytokine levels, which in turn promote the production of serotonin – the “happy chemical”.

So, having an office herb garden (indoors or out); a gardening club; or allowing a group to plant up those bare patches of land around your offices, could not only boost morale, but reduce stress levels, too. All of this makes for a healthier and happier workforce. So, clearly, physical contact is going to have the most efficacious results, however, if dressing up as honeybee was the bit you were looking forward to, I’m going to explore in next week’s article how business systems and processes can apply lessons learnt from nature to improve communication; leadership skills and teamwork.

Einstein was right: “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better”. 

How to Supercharge Your CSR

Supercharge Your Corporate Sustainability!

Owner of Bees & Co., broadcaster and honeybee farmer Jez Rose, offers simple but highly effective ways to create – or maintain – a supercharged, effective corporate social responsibility culture that pays.

  1. Aim to engage with or support a global cause; something that connects your employees or business aims or values, rather than something that’s close to only one or two people. Consider how customers and stakeholders will react to your choice. Improving the environment – our shared living space – is a good example of a global cause.
  2. Consider brightening up empty patches of land for staff and visitors, whilst providing essential food for pollinators by using wildflower seeds as gifts, incentives and for promotions. Or create a project at your premises that shares the progress throughout the seasons.
  3. Don’t be shy about being a tiny bit selfish: it’s okay for you to benefit, too! You’re much more likely to obtain global buy-in when doing something that works for your business and its employees. True altruism is achieved by being a little more selfless, however, so consider how your CSR or sustainability activities might benefit everyone inclusively.
  4. To truly stand out and make your responsibility count, find ways to engage regularly with your cause: encourage walking meetings to generate discussion among your businesses advocates and champions whilst simultaneously boosting wellbeing through outdoor contact; host a monthly gardening club to grow herbs and create a wildlife area, or consider adopting a beehive, for example.
  5. Champions are critical to the success of corporate responsibility programs: recruit a team to lead the cause and maintain the momentum, acting as a communication channel within your organisation to share and inspire.
  6. Demonstrate the importance to your organisation of corporate responsibility by recognising or rewarding employee engagement. With Bees for Business you’ll enjoy jars of your own delicious, raw, British honey from your hive, which make ideal, meaningful gifts.
  7. Be proud of the active role you are playing. Many businesses use corporate responsibility as nothing more than a tick in a box: engage with your local, industry and national press to confidently champion your cause. We provide Bees for Business customers with a Press Pack, with most of the work already done for you.
  8. Simple things can make a big difference. Corporate social responsibility doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Simply hanging bird feeders (and keeping them topped up throughout the year!) to support local wildlife is better than doing nothing. Find something that is easily achievable for you; most things can be scaled up in time when resources allow.
  9. Aim to move forwards and truly make a difference with your program, rather than repeating the same things for the sake of it. With an adopted beehive you’re continuously improving the environment by supporting a living infrastructure and helping to prevent the decline of the native, British honeybee population, whilst benefiting from the myriad health benefits of raw honey.
  10. Keep employees up to date with progress, achievements and future plans for corporate responsibility: all too often interest and engagement fizzles out because people aren’t kept engaged.

Watch the video and download your FREE information guide at www.beesforbusiness.com

 

 

Banana Bees Knees Cocktail Recipe

We teamed up with one of our Business Beehive Adoption clients, The Ned hotel in London, to create some exciting cocktails with honey at their heart, using honey from their adopted hive here on the farm. Head of Bars, Dan Berger, shook up a honey storm behind the bar with these delicious recipes you can try at home!

Ingredients:

30ml Star of Bombay

10ml Banane du Brésil liqueur

20ml Fresh lemon juice

20ml Honey water (3 parts honey, 1 part water)

50ml Champagne

Method:

Step 1:

Shake lightly with ice then strain into a coupe, top with the Champagne.

Step 2:

Garnish with a fresh orange zest.

Step 3:

Sit back, sip slowly and enjoy that Friday feeling…

HOW TO MAKE HONEY WATER

Use warm water so it’s easier to blend with the honey. Pour the specific amount of warm water into a cup or cocktail shaker if you fancy yourself as a bit of a Tom Cruise. Spoon into the warm water the specific amount of honey. Stir. That’s it!

 

We all love to celebrate the weekend or a special Birthday with a little tipple but please remember to drink responsibly.

Apricot Fix Cocktail Recipe

We teamed up with one of our Business Beehive Adoption clients, The Ned hotel in London, to create some exciting cocktails with honey at their heart, using honey from their adopted hive here on the farm. Head of Bars, Dan Berger, shook up a honey storm behind the bar with these delicious recipes you can try at home!

Ingredients:

15ml Sage infused honey water
(3 parts honey, 1 part water, infused with fresh sage)

25ml Fresh lime juice

5ml Green Chartreuse

10ml Apricot liqueur

35ml Woodford Reserve

Method:

Step 1:

Build in a rocks glash and churn with crushed ice.

Step 2:

Garnish with dried apricot and 2 fresh sage leaves.

Step 3:

Sit back, sip slowly and enjoy that Friday feeling…

HOW TO MAKE HONEY WATER

Use warm water so it’s easier to blend with the honey. Pour the specific amount of warm water into a cup or cocktail shaker if you fancy yourself as a bit of a Tom Cruise. Spoon into the warm water the specific amount of honey. Stir. That’s it!

 

We all love to celebrate the weekend or a special Birthday with a little tipple but please remember to drink responsibly.