‘Easy to run’ virtual pause space

Thank you for stepping forward to run this easy to run’ virtual 10-min Pause Space

This guidance has been designed for anyone to use in a virtual setting, to respect the current challenges on time and space and limitations on face-to-face interaction; thank you for joining many others who are creating these essential ‘pop up’ spaces for their teams and colleagues. Please note the virtual version will take a bit longer to prepare for and run, so we recommend booking a 30-minute virtual slot in your diaries.

We know the pressure on individuals and teams has the potential to mount, so finding space to re-set, re-charge and re-commit will be crucial in encouraging people to leave the pressures of work behind, as they re-connect with family and friends at the end of a shift. We know the pressures are not just felt by clinical or ‘frontline’ staff and we encourage you to offer this to others too.

This virtual guide is for people who are not confident to, or do not wish to use breakaway rooms on their virtual platform. Or it may be that you are using a platform without a breakaway room option.

The is also a virtual 10-min Pause Space using breakaway rooms available too.

When you run an easy to run virtual Pause Space, please make sure you have the correct 10-minute Pause Space script (below) in front of you. It can also be found in the Notes area and you can use it offline if you have installed people.nhs.uk on your mobile desktop.

The script is the structure that keeps the ‘10 minutes’ running to time and feeling safe. We recommend these spaces are run in work time and people shouldn’t have to stay late to join a 10-minute Pause Space. Some people use these at the start of their shift/workday, and others to check out just before the shift/workday ends. Remember too they are optional. Encourage people to join but don’t force them or make them feel bad if they don’t want to. The person running the session joins in the pairs work if there is an odd number of people.

Try running them with small groups of four or five people to start with, with a maximum number of eight people for this virtual version, when you become more confident.


10-minute Pause Space has been designed for everyone to benefit from. Please think about who might not normally be invited into support spaces and ensure that no one in your team is left out. Please welcome all that attend, even/especially those that are running late. Mixed groups are fine and are great in fact. This is a human space; it doesn’t matter what your role is called. Remember that some individuals may struggle with virtual communication for many different reasons, please pay attention to being as inclusive as possible, and make reasonable adjustments in advance where a staff member has asked for help. The Workforce Disability Equality Standard team england.wdes@nhs.net may be able to offer advice on this, or perhaps your local network for diversely abled individuals.


When people stop and take a moment in a busy and pressured environment, it is not uncommon for some to release feelings or shed the odd tear. This is normal. Having tissues to hand for comfort is lovely, but not to encourage anyone to stop their tears.


Try and find a quiet space away from the hustle and bustle of busy diaries if possible. Face-to-face 10-minute Pause Space has been designed to be used in any setting, so for this virtual version, just do your best with whatever platform you can use, and whatever time you can carve out for your team/colleagues. Be mindful that virtual working brings its own challenges and acknowledge that providing support spaces for people doesn’t need perfection to add value.

Infection Control

Please observe agreed infection-control advice and do not invite staff into zones of higher infection risk, especially if it is not their normal working environment. If in doubt, keep to the ‘two-metre distance apart from everyone’ policy, where this is appropriate and possible. In running a virtual 10-min Pause Space, be mindful that you respect any current social distancing advice; don’t increase any risk by asking people to attend a particular site to take part. People should be allowed to join from wherever they are.

Face-to-face use

Ideally, 10-minute Pause Spaces are run face-to-face, but they can be run virtually too. When social distancing restrictions are lifted, try running a 10-min Pause Space face-to-face as well, and see how it works.

Technical advice for platforms:

Please use platforms that you feel confident with, minded some organisations endorse named platforms for security reasons. Ensure you know the privacy settings of your chosen platform, and of course that you or a technical buddy feel confident in operating the available functionality.

Roles – for this ‘easy-to-run’ version it just requires one person acting as facilitator to set up the meeting, welcome people and then facilitate the session using the available script. Please ensure you can see a copy of the guide/script as well as the screen of participants. The facilitator manages the session using the available script, and steps in to join a pair if numbers are uneven and manages the time.

(If you are unfamiliar with using any virtual platforms, you may choose to have a facilitator and a technical buddy/host to help you use the platform, until you become more confident to do so).

Invitation ideas

How you invite people to join a virtual 10-min Pause Space is up to you. You know your people best. We have included a draft invitation, below, which you may wish to use and tailor to your team:

‘Dear [XXX]

I/we would like to invite you to join a small group virtual 10-min Pause Space using [XXX] platform. In these challenging times, we know that the pressure on individuals and teams has the potential to mount, so finding space to re-set, re-charge and re-commit will be crucial in encouraging us to leave the pressures of work behind, as we re-connect with family and friends at the end of a shift/working day.

Joining is optional, I/we simply ask that you let me/us know in advance so that I/we know who to expect. We will follow the design of the 10-min Pause Space when we meet. 10-min Pause Space was designed to be run ‘face to face’. It has been adapted for virtual use, and we know we need slightly longer to run it like this. Please allow 30 minutes in your diary if you plan to attend, as we ask that people stay until the end, if they want to join in. This is to ensure that the practice is not interrupted for others, by people leaving early.

This 10-min Pause Space can be found online at ADD LINK should you want to get a sense of the session in advance. I/we have also invited [TELL YOUR TEAM WHO ELSE IS INVITED]

I look forward to hearing back from you and hope that you can join.

If you’d like to join, but anything is making that tricky for you, please do let me know in case I/we can help.

Best wishes,


Let’s look at each section of the pause space. Imagine using it in your team or practice it out loud before moving on to the next section.

This section will walk through the process step by step. Take time to imagine yourself running each step of the easy to run virtual 10-minute Pause Space before moving on.

Please also consider sharing your experience of putting it into practice in the discussion areas.

Please stick to the words and the questions, which have been carefully crafted. Remember to have a timer to hand and that for 10-20 minutes you are in charge of the time.

Start here

This should take about 1 minute

Welcome. My name is [YOUR NAME], thank you for taking time to be here amidst all of the demands on you. We have 10-20 minutes together. Some people might join late, so let’s quietly welcome them in too. If anyone accidently drops out and re-joins, we will look out for you, so know that you are welcome back. We all have technical issues from time to time, and I am just really pleased that you’re joining today in whatever way you can. The technical host for today is (introduce the technical person, if there is one. They can also join in).

(We imagine that you will most likely be using a platform where your faces will appear on the screen. This may be all at the same time, or as people speak. It is important to acknowledge everyone that has joined by name, so that no one feels left out. Some people may only be able to join by voice, so please ensure that they feel welcome too).

When we run this 10-min Pause Space face to face we all sit together in a circle. Let’s just take a moment now to imagine that we are doing that.


We are going to be using the three teachable habits that lie at the heart of “Compassion Circle” practice:

  • Listening with a Quiet Mind
  • Asking Questions that Matter
  • Appreciating from the Heart


This should take about 1 minute

Before we start, let’s just take a moment to be still.


Notice the contact of your feet on the floor, or your body against whatever you are sitting on.

Congratulate yourself for being here.


Notice that in this moment, you are okay, and you’re not alone.


This time together helps us to connect with each other and reminds us to care for ourselves as well as everyone else. We are going to connect as a group. Please respect the privacy of what is shared with you during our time together, trusting that others will respect your privacy too.

(Remind people that this is private space and that you are not recording the session)

Please signal your agreement to playing your part in this confidentiality by raising your hand, saying yes, or adding yes to the chat box if we can’t see you. If you don’t feel able to commit to that today, for whatever reason, please just quietly drop out of the Pause Space. Thank you.


I am going to keep us both to time and to the structure during this Pause Space – quite strictly in fact! – it’s this structure that stops us running over and importantly keeps the space safe.

Optional Warm Up Exercise

This optional activity should take about five minutes

(If you want to ease more slowly into virtual 10-min Pause Space, and you have an extra time to spare, try one of these ‘gratitude’ rounds).

Let’s start by warming up and stepping into an appreciative mind space. I invite each of you to take a quiet moment to think of something that you feel grateful for or that is going well for you in your life right now. It might feel tricky to imagine that now, so remember it can be anything at all, however small.


When I say your name, please share something in just a few words each. It’s also okay to pass.

Let’s start, ‘NAME, something that you feel grateful for or is going well for you…’

(Use everyone’s first name, one at a time, to invite them to speak – periodically remind people of the prompt and gently remind people to use just a couple of words each – you might explain it as a ‘one breath answer’. Check back with anyone that passed: ‘did you want to say anything, NAME?’ – include yourself as facilitator)

If you are short on time or have a large group:

Let’s start by warming up and stepping into an appreciative mind space. I invite each of you to take a quiet moment to think of something that you feel grateful for or that is going well for you in your life right now. It might feel tricky to imagine that now, so remember it can be anything at all, however small. You won’t be sharing it with the group this time. Just listen to your own thoughts and you can jot them down, if it helps.

Say, so, ‘something that you feel grateful for or is going well for you…’


Listening Activity

This activity should take 10-20 minutes

Let’s start.

We are going to take turns to think out loud uninterrupted, and to listen with a quiet mind and an open heart to others. You’ll each get a turn.

I will invite each of you in turn to think out loud, whilst the rest of us listen.

When each person’s time is up, I will raise both my hands like this, (Raise both hands high) and invite you back to the group. It is very important that we only have 2 minutes each, so everyone gets the same amount of time to think out loud. When you see me do this (raise both hands high again), please do likewise.

(This is the gentlest and most effective form of crowd control we know!)

At that point, if you are the thinker, please bring what you are saying to a close.

I will speak each name and ask the question ‘[NAME] what does caring for yourself mean to you?’if you run out of things to say, don’t worry, I will simply say ‘and what else?’

If it’s not our turn to think out loud, our role is to listen, not to interrupt, and not plan what we might say when it’s our turn! Let’s trust the process.

I’m going to set my timer for the first two minutes, and then we will go around everybody in turn, and I will bring you in one by one. This is the order I suggest [STATE ORDER OF PARTICIPANTS – REMEMBER TO ADD YOUR OWN NAME IN THERE].

How is that for everyone? Remember, there is always the option to pass, so if I get to you and you don’t feel able to answer, pass. I’ll come back to you at the end to check if you want to speak.

(Allow people to swap their place in the order if they have a strong need not to go first, for example. Please do this kindly).

I will use the question each time so don’t worry about remembering it; unless it’s your turn to think out loud, just listen.

Please stick to the exact questions and the timings.

Let’s start: [NAME], What does caring for yourself mean to you?

Time 2 minutes (an audible alarm is fine and can be helpful)

(If the person runs out of things to say, don’t worry, simply ask ‘and what else?’)

After 2 minutes raise both hands, wait till the person stops speaking.

(If the person is still talking after this, say ‘okay thank you [NAME], just bring that thought to a close’).

Thank the person by name.

Chose the next person as per the agreed order and ask ‘[NAME] what does caring for yourself mean to you? and so on and so forth.

(Remember to time each person’s 2 minutes and show people that you are doing that. Remember also that it’s okay for people to pass; thank each person after they’ve spoken, using the arm-raising technique at the end of each person’s time to call time). Trust the process.

After everyone has spoken. Just check back that everyone has had a turn to think out loud, remember who passed and check back with them. (In this version, it is appropriate for the facilitator to join in and have 2 minutes, too).

Thank everyone for their contribution.


This activity should take five minutes

We will now take a moment to appreciate each other. We don’t always find it easy to voice our appreciations of others or to be appreciated, but let’s try. It might be something you already appreciate about that person if you know them, or something in what they said that you appreciated.

We will each just appreciate one other person and be appreciated by one person, and we will do this as a ‘tag team’. So, once you have been appreciated please chose someone new to appreciate and so on, as if we were going round in a circle. I will help if we get a bit muddled. Only choose someone that has not yet been appreciated, so we each get one appreciation each.

[NAME], would you please start us off by choosing someone, and keeping to a few words, say ‘NAME, one thing I appreciate about you is….’

(Allow yourself to be appreciated/take a turn; ensure everyone has been appreciated)

We don’t always create the chances to think out loud with a partner or to listen without thinking or interrupting. And appreciating and being appreciated takes practice, so thank you.

Check out

This activity should take about two to three minutes

And now for our final couple of minutes together.

Before we start again, let’s just take a moment to be still, and imagine that we are still in that circle together.


Let’s check out of our time together today, remembering that we are all human and that you and your well-being matters. We are going to go around the ‘circle’ inviting you to take a moment to focus on your intention as you leave this space. Remember just share whatever you feel happy to, and it’s okay to pass.

So, to our final invitation, and to hear from everyone, please just use a couple of words in your reply to, ‘To be wise, kind and compassionate towards myself I will…’ and anyone can start.

(Remember then go around to everyone and check back with anyone that passed, including yourself when it gets to you).

Thank you everyone, that’s the end of the virtual 10-min Pause Space. I’ve really appreciated your commitment, honesty and courage.

(add anything else you’ve particularly appreciated).

Do share this practice with others, and on social media if you found it helpful; use the tag #10minPauseSpace

To anyone that has appreciated this time and wants to find out what other support is available, please take a look at the growing number of offers on people.nhs.uk.