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Durham University

Organisation Development


Keeping strong relationships with others is an essential part of building your resilience and boosting your own wellbeing.

Evidence shows that CONNECTING with others; colleagues, friends, and wider Durham communities helps promote your overall wellbeing. It does this by building a support network, which is something we will all benefit from especially at this time. We all need to feel close to and valued by others.

CONNECTING is all about being there, talking, listening and feeling a sense of belonging.

“It is so important to remain connected with colleagues as we all adjust to new ways of working. I would encourage you to be creative with how you keep in contact; within my team we have created an Engagement Group who are sending out a light-hearted newsletter every week to colleagues with pictures, updates and fun facts. We have also created a whole Team “teams” site to enable informal chat between colleagues. It is wonderful to see the many similar initiatives in other departments where people are using technology to stay connected.”

Joanne Race, Director of Human Resources and Organisation Development

Got 5 minutes?

  1. 'Check-in' with members of your team – regular contact at this time is really important. This could also help with workloads and sharing important information. The HROD team have produced some helpful conversation prompts both for Line Managers and Colleagues to 'Check-in' with members of your team.

  2. Message a friend. It doesn’t matter what it says, people appreciate it when you think of them.

  3. Talk on the phone or video call instead of emailing. Don’t underestimate the positive effect of speaking to someone especially at this time. We are all practising social distancing but we have the technology to stay connected with one another.

  4. Common Room - this is a Microsoft Teams Channel, one of five that is available within the Help Us Help You Team. This is a space where people can share stories and experiences in the way they would in a casual conversation over coffee or in the office kitchen. This is designed to be a safe space for chat and to support one another. All users have the ability to add, like and interact with posts.

  5. Wave or say "Hi" to your neighbour observing government social distancing guidance and remember those neighbours who may be self-isolating or are shielded when you are doing your weekly shopping.

Got more than 5 minutes?

  1. Organise a shared lunch with colleagues using Microsoft Teams – set a meeting time and all bring your lunch to share at the virtual café. The Research Staff Association arranged a virtual coffee morning via Zoom with all research staff invited to attend. Coffee mornings like this are an excellent opportunity to meet up with other staff from across the University; to support each other and discuss challenges and issues that you may be facing at this time. If you are interested in the Research Staff Coffee morning please email

  2. Durham University Chaplaincy are an integral part of the welfare provision and pastoral support for both staff and students. They offer a listening service which operates through the University's Chaplaincy Network for students or staff who want to touch base on any concerns or anxieties or are looking for someone to listen attentively. To make an appointment to meet online with one of the Chaplains, email Myth-busting: you don't have to be religious to talk to a Chaplain.

  3. Departmental book clubs:

    You could start one with your colleagues or your friends. Meet virtually in Microsoft Teams with your colleagues over lunch to have a chat about a book and a virtual catch up.

  4. Crafts for wellbeing:

    Sarah Dodds from DCAD has created a blog enabling PhD students and staff to come together, be creative and chat. The activities are child friendly and those who are now home schooling their children might find them of interest

  5. Peer support community:

    You could join a peer support community. MIND (the mental health charity) runs an online peer support community called Elefriends, where you can share your experiences and hear from others.

Are there any other ways you have found to Connect at Durham?

If so, please access the CIS Help us Help You Team. In this Team there is a Wellbeing and Working Differently channel – colleagues can share content about mental and physical health, wellbeing and balancing work and family life. All users can add, like and interact with posts.