Rainbows of hope
By Dan Wakelin
Whilst out running over the last few weeks (yes, shameless boast, I go “running”), I have been cheered no end by the beautiful rainbow artwork that now adorns the windows of many homes. Children (and some adults, too) across the country have been painting and drawing rainbows to help share hope in this time of national crisis; even Her Majesty the Queen remarked in her television address what a wonderful addition they are.
Of course, this is not the first time that rainbows have been seen as symbols of hope. For many in the LGBTQ+ community, the rainbow, most often in flag form, has been a symbol of unity, inclusivity, and acceptance for many years. The gay pride rainbow flag dates back to 1978, and has evolved to represent the huge societal shift that has taken place over that time. What some of you will already know is that each of the colours in the flag represents something;
Red = Life
Orange = Healing
Yellow = Sun
Green = Nature
Blue = Harmony
Violet = Spirit
Knowing this, it strikes me as even more apt that we suddenly have rainbows decorating the windows of our homes. More than ever we wish for healing, harmony, and surely it is our collective spirit that will get us through this. I wonder though what we can learn from these rainbows, and from those who have found solace in them before us. What can we learn that will help us to improve the workplace?
Wellbeing has been atop of many workplace agendas for several years. However, it can sometimes be a hard sell; the benefits are harder (not impossible!) to quantify than some of the other metrics often used in real estate and workplace projects. Perhaps Coronavirus will help us to bring the essence of the rainbow into our workplaces, and truly create environments that give people life, helping them to heal from stressful experiences. Our more collaborative environments (see my previous piece for more of my musings on this topic) could go a long way in bringing harmony among colleagues, and building the team spirit.
My doctoral research focuses on how workplaces can help improve employee engagement, and one of the most interesting aspects that I have been exploring is how symbols in our workplaces can be the physical manifestations of a company culture and values. This can be seen as being analogous to the spirit of the rainbow; an organisation that truly embraces people as its most important asset, will surely wish to create an environment that supports them. That’s congruence. Congruence between the organisation’s stated values and how the workplace works is so important. When we get back to our offices, we have a collective opportunity to make sure our places of work represent the organisations we want to be. If we learn nothing else from this huge remote working experiment, what we must take away is the importance of people, of being kind to one another, of being united, inclusive, and accepting, just like the rainbows represent. Let’s use the opportunity to make sure our workplaces are congruent with this.