Covid-19: Waterstones launches digital services for staff in lockdown

Bookseller Waterstones has announced details about several digital services it is making available to staff, to support them in lockdown while the business’s stores are temporarily closed due to the coronavirus crisis.

The retailer announced this week it has teamed up with online, on-demand fitness class provider InstructorLive to give its employees free access to a digital workout and nutrition platform. The access runs until the end of July, although the government has announced fledgling plans to try and facilitate the reopening of ‘non-essential’ retail stores from the beginning of June.

Commenting on the new partnership, Waterstones said: “They class themselves as the Netflix for fitness and so we are sure our booksellers and colleagues, who are normally kept active in our bookshops, will be pleased to have this platform to help them keep active whilst they are safe at home."

Last week, Waterstones also launched digital mental health and wellbeing service Big White Wall to its employees. The offering is designed to help members, if they choose to do so, to get support via a network of trained healthcare professionals and clinicians who are online at all times.

“Supporting our booksellers and colleagues' mental health is incredibly important and so we are pleased Big White Wall is now an ongoing offer to our employees,” the retailer said.

Of course, many other retailers and hospitality chains have been finding ways to support their staff virtually during the coronavirus crisis. Honest Burgers’ head of people, Chantal Wilson, told Essential Retail recently that the company’s CEO has been running regular digital fitness sessions with employees.

The UK’s largest retailer, Tesco, said in April that it was giving its 300,000 staff free access to the digital wellness tools, Headspace and SilverCloud, for a year. The move was made to help prevent and alleviate mental health problems such as anxiety and stress among staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.