Vibrant Thinking offers creative workshops to help businesses merge working from home and in the office.

Hi Lorna! Can you give us the background behind Vibrant Thinking?

I established Vibrant Thinking two years go in Northumberland. Before that I worked for Procter & Gamble in their marketing department for 17 years. When I left them, I set up a pottery painting business that was focused on hand and footprints for babies and children. I’ve always had a vision that I would take pottery painting into the corporate world, because of how I experienced it when I was sitting on a course learning how to start my own business. It’s the fact that it gives you so much energy and doesn’t drain you.

So after I’d essentially learnt how to run the business, the hand and foot painting evolved into a corporate team building activity in the office. And then the pandemic hit. Clearly there was no going into the office, and team building was the last thing anyone was thinking about – it was all about crisis management. So, I’ve evolved and broadened what I offer now, to include helping companies achieve success through hybrid working.

What do your workshops generally involve?

First of all, there would be a briefing between myself and the client, discussing what the objectives are, and what specific challenges they are looking to overcome. The sessions themselves, which last between two and two-and-a-half hours, is bookended by pottery painting exercises. The first icebreaker that we do is to ask people to paint on a tile a visual representation of what hybrid working is in their opinion, (or something else depending on what the brief is). We use a lot of stencils, so no one feels unable to draw what they want to express. Then we share back so everyone can understand each other’s different viewpoints.

The visual representations are usually much clearer than just sitting around discussing would have been. That’s just the first 15 minutes. It puts people in a much more creative and open mindset, to then go into a more traditional workshop. We would then start to look at the themes that are coming through in the discussion, looking for the ones that are best for this organisation, and then discussing how we start that journey. At the end of our workshop, each participant will leave with their own personal action step they can take back into the workplace. The last section of the workshop is getting people to paint their action step on a mug, so they have a visual reminder of what they’re working on sitting at their desk.

And why is it that services like yours are so crucial in the current climate?

Hybrid working really gives us the opportunity to finally address the issue of wellbeing at work, and the direct cause of it, which is actually the way we work. This is something that our service hopes to improve. We’re often forced into a structure of nine-to-five working, which doesn’t necessarily match how we live anymore. That structure and those defined roles, that’s not what life is, and work life should adapt to accept that. It’s about trusting employees to know how they can best deliver the work they need to produce.

Wellbeing at work has been an issue for 10 years. We have a £45 billion industry there trying to fix it and yet the situation is only getting worse. The industry increased by 10 billion just between 2018 and 2019. So clearly, what we’re doing currently isn’t working and we’ve essentially just been sticking a plaster on it for now. Hybrid working will really help us address the root cause of the problem and reduce the stress of work, and we want to help businesses find a way to do that.