How to create a healthier (and happier) remote workplace
With many workplaces adapting to staff working from home, it seems working from home (aka, WFH) is here to stay. Working remotely can mean staff working across multiple locations, situations and circumstances—this is why staying connected and prioritising staff wellbeing is more important than ever.
Here are some ways to help staff stay engaged, connected and participate in workplace health and wellbeing initiatives.
Take advantage of tech
With more meetings online, encourage remote employees to participate in walking meetings through mobile technology. People can also be encouraged to participate in calls/video meetings while standing, or if on a phone call, walking on a treadmill, or riding a stationary bike. You can also consider running a workplace physical activity challenge. Create a challenge that remote employees can participate in as a team. Have your team log steps or success with an activity on a shared spreadsheet, or create a chat thread on Teams. This can create connection and team-building opportunities for people who are otherwise isolated from their co-workers—and offers accountability to reach those physical activity goals. Consider starting a 10,000 Steps Challenge.
If most of the team is working remotely, your wellness program or initiative should reflect a flexible approach. Ensure you have options for at-home or on-the-road activities and look for programs that can be easily delivered in an online format. BeUpstanding is an example of a health and wellbeing program that can be delivered no matter where staff are working from. It’s a free online toolkit that supports staff to sit less and move more at work.
If you are missing the opportunity to get coffee together, or chatting over lunch with a workmate you are not alone. It’s important for our mental wellbeing to keep socially connected with colleagues. Consider logging into your video or phone meeting five minutes earlier or staying back after a call to have a non-work related ‘check in’ with the rest of the team. Virtual happy hours or coffee breaks, or even online social trivia can help your team feel connected when working from home. Make it a scheduled time and put it in a shared work calendar. And if it’s safe to do so with the rapidly changing COVID-19 context, get employees together for a wellbeing focused event. This may include a health presentation, a walk/run to raise funds for charity, or an outdoor social event. Wellness activities carried out during such visits are fun, inclusive and will help your workforce connect and stay happy and healthy.
When working remotely, communication is key, and keeping it consistent and positive is vital. Pay special attention to others working remotely, and prioritise, where you can, a video or phone call. For news and updates, emails are often the preferred way of communicating. Keep in mind employees who work remotely are more dependent on emails than office-based employees; so just be mindful of email overload.
Set up a specific day and time in the week to communicate with your team members, such as a recurring video meeting. You can use this time to discuss work in progress, challenges, solve problems together, or deliver shout outs for jobs well done. Facilitation of these meetings will need to be clear. Send out an agenda prior to meeting so everyone knows what is going to be discussed and can come prepared. Encourage participation in the meeting, ask questions, and actively engage where appropriate.
Get people involved
If your organisation is interested in taking part in a wellbeing program that is remote-workplace friendly, consider a 10,000 Steps workplace challenge or join the Be Upstanding movement.