Many things are ok
and that's ok

Back in 2016, the team I was part of at the Government Digital Service created a poster. This poster, written by the team and designed by Sonia Turcotte:

The GDS It's ok poster up on a wall

This blog post gives you the background.

Since then, a few companies and organisations have either printed their own copies of that poster, or have remixed it for their own purposes.

More recently, I’ve noticed new versions of it cropping up, with a specific focus on coronavirus and its impact on employee mental health and emotional well-being.

One version was made by Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and they posted it on Twitter:

Gloucestershire hospitals NHS trust

Seeing this, particularly the bit about putting it up in “wobble rooms” where NHS staff can take a break from the pressure and stress, brought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye.

The team at Co-op Digital wrote their own version, and turned it into a lovely little website:

Screenshot of website, by Co-op Digital

Then last week there was this one from Clearleft, a consultancy based in Brighton:

Screenshot of Clearleft's tweet

They’ve made a website too:

Screenshot of, by Clearleft

Via Twitter discussion, I discovered that Bristol-based CX Partners did a similar thing:

Screenshot of CX Partners tweet

I love seeing these variations and iterations. There’s always a mix of new ideas, re-wording of existing ones, and usually a few lines that are very specific to that organisation’s culture.

I like the Co-op’s line about “getting cross with technology”. I love Gloucestershire Hospital’s line: “have a cry”. That was the bit that got me.

Acts of permission

Every one of these is a deliberate act of corporate permission-granting, an effort by leaders to acknowledge the human reality that surrounds the madness of meetings and Zoom and email and Slack and deadlines and pressure and wishing you could hug people again.

That human reality gets overlooked, sometimes even forcefully sidelined, in organisations where the deadlines and the other stuff come first, whatever the cost.

Anyway; if you think a remixed version of the GDS poster would be a good idea in your organisation, I say go ahead and make one. Right now you can only send it to colleagues digitally, or make it a website like the Co-op and Clearleft did. But one day you’ll be able to stick it up on actual walls, like we did back in 2016.

Write what’s ok for you

Here’s some tips for writing your version of the poster:

If your team has made a version of It’s ok, I’d love to hear about it. Please let me know (giles at gilest dot org) and I’ll happily add it to this post.

More ok:

Thanks to Amy McNichol (who worked on the Co-op’s ok list) for helping me make this post better.

Filed under: work
(7 May 2020; last updated 7 September 2021)