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Civil Service

Lockdown: What did it do to your working relationships? Don’t worry, help is at hand

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: A Brilliant Civil Service, A great place to work
Informal work discussions. Good communication is vital to achieve effective mediation

Traditionally, the end of summer acts as a bit of a reset point for many of us.  Personally, I’ve always seen this as a good time to look with fresh eyes at plans, to re-evaluate our progress and to consider together how we move forward with a renewed sense of purpose and direction.

I’m sure you’ll all agree that this particular year has been unlike any other and as we move forward into the autumn, all of us will face challenges as we continue to navigate through an evolving ‘new normal’ and start to evaluate the impact the pandemic has had on all of us, personally and professionally.

For me, it has been incredible to see just how effective we can be when tested by extraordinary and unprecedented circumstances. I am proud of the way the UK Civil Service has continued to deliver services to our citizens and of how so many of you have overcome personal challenges and contributed to strong and sustained delivery.

Sarah Albon, CEO at the Health and Safety Executive and the Civil Service Mediation Champion

Time to take stock and reconnect:

With that in mind, as the full lockdown is now behind us and we are starting to go back to the workplace in greater numbers, it’s time to take stock of what all this has meant for our working relationships.

If, looking back, you can think of relationships that have suffered during the lockdown, consider if now is the time to invest in putting things right by spending some time together, lowering barriers and changing the course of your working relationship for the better. This doesn’t have to be complicated - it might just mean a quick chat to soothe a tense moment or just taking time to catch up with a colleague you haven’t spoken with recently.

If needed, more help is at hand for civil servants:

However, if you have had tensions with colleagues that you don’t feel able to address alone, or discussions with your manager haven’t worked, help is at hand. Workplace mediation has been used by many civil servants to this end.

Workplace mediation is a genuinely effective next step, and readily available to all of us. Mediation can enable us to air any feelings and concerns in a confidential and constructive environment, and help bring about harmony. We are lucky to have hundreds of trained and experienced mediators who can guide you through this, and can do so both face to face and remotely.

If resolving conflict by video conference sounds daunting, I can tell you the Civil Service Mediation Service responded very quickly to the challenge of mediating remotely and has trained the vast majority of their mediators to mediate virtually. This service has been used by many colleagues over the last few months and, although face to face mediation has obvious benefits, there are plenty of advantages to mediating online; including a more flexible approach to meetings and a familiar and comfortable environment at home, without the added stress of travel. Early feedback paints an encouraging picture in terms of success rates too.

We know that resolving conflict early and informally is key and, if management intervention can’t resolve a situation, mediation is a very effective option. As Civil Service Mediation Champion, I encourage anyone involved in a workplace dispute or relationship breakdown to consider mediation and take advantage of the creative and agile approach your department’s mediation service is operating to keep our important resolution services open.

You can find more about workplace mediation in your department via your mediation single point of contact (SPoC) or by contacting


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  1. Comment by Gavin Thomas posted on

    During the Covid-19 Lockdown, not only did I note a significant change in behaviour, but also colleagues telling me that they had observed an increase level of engagement with their Senior Management and their Line Managers. Furthermore, that everyone seem to be more proactive in checking in on how they were coping. So my wish is that such positive behaviour continues as we move forward.