From company relay race to reflection workshop: Service offering from the Adlershof Health Network for the Science City’s employees

27. August 2020

From company relay race to reflection workshop

Service offering from the Adlershof Health Network for the Science City’s employees

Pilates © Tatyana Soares/Shutterstock

© Tatyana Soares/Shutterstock

Annika Huber-Lieske could not reveal to us whether any of the relay race’s colourful teams from last year would be standing on this year’s starting line. But on 3 September 2020, it is indeed ‘ready, set, go’ for the participants of the Adlershof Company Relay Race. Every year in September since 2013, Huber-Lieske has been organising the much-beloved running event for Adlershof’s employees on behalf of GSBB Gesundheitssport Berlin-Brandenburg e.V., a local health and sports initiative. More and more company teams took part in the event, which features female, male, and mixed teams of three competing over a course of 8.7 kilometres across Adlershof’s landscaped park. ‘801 athletes took part in 2019 when they were cheered on by a large audience,’ says Huber-Lieske. Naturally, the competition for the top places on the podium is fierce and some running enthusiasts train hard to become top tier, but, in the end, everybody is in it to experience the fun and the team spirit.

This year, however, everything changed. Due to the coronavirus, the number of teams is limited to 150. Instead of everybody starting together, the teams run in laps between 11:30 and 16:00. Spectators are not allowed and the afterparty has been cancelled. Huber-Lieske is happy nonetheless because at least the company relay race itself hadn’t been cancelled altogether. The threat loomed over the event in 2020 due to the lack of sponsors, the ban on large-scale events in spring, and the strict regulation on hygiene. The Health Network Adlershof pitched in and took over the entry fee for all participants. The founders of Charlottenburg Innovation Centre (CHIC) were also in for a surprise, because they found out that the Health Network Adlershof is also open to WISTA’s other locations across Berlin, allowing them to take part in the race for the first time.

Reacting flexibly and giving support is something Adlershof’s Health Network does in many areas. It was founded in 2018 to promote health in a holistic, proactive, interdisciplinary, and interconnected way. The network’s management responded especially quickly when the lockdown was imposed in spring, exercising was restricted, gyms were closed, sports clubs were shut down, and employees were stretched to their limits amidst working from home, teaching children, and watching small children at the same time. ‘Seeing as we aimed actively staying healthy, there was no way we could’ve scaled back on our services during these times of crisis,’ says Olaf Meier of Techniker Krankenkasse, a national public health insurance provider. He is actively involved in the Health Network’s steering group.

‘Unfortunately, we had to cancel all face-to-face events until early September, but, at the same time, we ramped up all our virtual and digital services,’ says Meier. This included a so-called reflection workshop with a talk on the new world of work and flexible work models. Seeing as workers had to endure a high degree of uncertainty through working-from-home, being furloughed, and unusual working patterns, the workshop also aimed at jointly developing strategies to strengthen communication. The digital offering includes webinars for managers on ‘leading effectively’ or online-based presentations on ‘mental fitness’. Lastly, people can roll out their yoga and fitness mats at home and attend Hatha yoga, pilates, and power break classes online. The programme is rounded off by a support hotline for dealing with stress factors and sudden challenges and a digital health coach focused on personal health-related goals.

All the services of Health Network Adlershof are geared towards the needs of employees and employers alike. So-called health ambassadors that work at the many companies and institutes across the site spread the word. Moreover, last year’s health needs assessment included an online barometer that surveyed employees on issues like flexible working, sleeping patterns, and the effects of commuting. ‘Because of this we know quite well what employees in Adlershof need. Our goal is to act preventively but also give support in moments of insecurity,’ says Meier.

By Sylvia Nitschke for Adlershof Journal