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Remembrance Day in the workplace

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People Director Jim Thompson gives examples of how employers and businesses can invite their staff and customers to join in the tribute to our war veterans.

In 2019, Remembrance Day (sometimes known as Armistice Day) falls on Monday 11th November. At 11am, people up and down the country will be observing the two minutes’ silence. It follows Remembrance Sunday, which this year is held the previous day, and in the weeks leading up to it, the Royal British Legion charity starts selling poppies in city centres across the UK.

Many businesses make a point of observing the silence at 11am if it falls on a working day, and here’s how.

In the office

‘I worked in two large open-plan offices where Remembrance Day was strictly observed,’ Jim Thompson of People Puzzles says. ‘On the morning of the day an email was sent out asking for all meetings to be scheduled accordingly and for all staff to come out of offices/meeting rooms and stand together in the open office. Shortly before 11am all central phone numbers were switched to answer machine.

‘The senior person present either notified the beginning and end of the minute’s silence or otherwise the radio was played to listen out for the chimes of Big Ben.’

Tips: Give staff advance notice that you’d like to mark the two-minute silence, so they can ensure they’re not in the middle of a task. As well as switching your phones to answer machine, leave a sign on your entrance door so others know not to interrupt. Have the radio on so everyone can hear when it starts and finishes.

Out and about

If your staff don’t work in an office or central place of work, it’s still possible for them to observe the silence. ‘Last year I happened to be in London for Remembrance Day and caught a taxi with my wife at 10.45am,’ Jim remembers. ‘A few minutes into the journey, the cab driver told us his son was serving in Afghanistan and asked if it would be okay if we observed a minute’s silence – to which we said yes. Just before 11am the cabbie pulled over just behind Oxford Street and we stood on the pavement with our heads bowed for the full minute.

‘The whole experience was quite moving and it clearly meant a lot to the cab driver who really appreciated being able to pay his respects whilst he had customers on board.’

Tips: If you’re out and about with customers at 11am, make sure to ask if they’re happy for you to observe the two-minute silence. Give them as much advance warning as possible, so they are not taken by surprise. If you are wearing a poppy, that may event prompt them to suggest the idea themselves.


Find out other ways you can get involved in marking Remembrance Day at the Royal British Legion website.


Jim Thompson

Jim Thompson, People Director

Having Alison on the team is like having another MD/MBA in the business. She has totally transformed my understanding of HR.


Managing Director, B2B Supplies and Support Services

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