The last year of remote working has changed the ways our offices operate. Many people have found themselves commuting less, snacking more, or making do with makeshift desks on dining room tables. And as offices contemplate returning to in-person work, for many people remote work will remain the status quo—in fact, in a recent study about half of the respondents said they would prefer at least some work from home days, while 1 in 3 prefer to stay remote indefinitely.
When it comes to supporting employee health and wellbeing, how can you encourage healthy habits in a remote workplace? In my role at Wellsource as Human Resources Generalist, responsible for developing and promoting our health and wellness program, I’ve certainly noticed challenges to encouraging employees to lead healthy lives from afar. It’s harder when you can’t just stop by someone’s desk to ask if they want to take a quick walk.
But in the last year, I’ve also noticed many of my coworkers finding new ways to make working from home work for them. So I decided to ask their advice directly: What health and wellness lessons have you learned in a year working remotely?
Here’s what the Wellsource team said.
Set up a dedicated workspace
One of the biggest points that the Wellsource team agrees on is that having a dedicated workspace is crucial. Even if that space is the same seat at the kitchen table every day, going to your Official Work Area will feel much more productive than working from the couch or your bed.
Additionally, have a way to signal to others in your home when you’re in full-work mode and when you’re able to be interrupted (a closed door, a pair of noise-canceling headphones, etc.). This will help you to stay “in the zone” as you work.
Take advantage of home cooking
We were pleasantly surprised to see that a lot of the team used lockdown time to level up their kitchen skills. One of the biggest takeaways is that takeaway food is less of a temptation. No commute means no impromptu stops at fast-food places.
Another benefit of that little-to-no commute time means more time to spend being intentional in the kitchen. Meal planning and cooking more nutritious, filling meals is a great way to make better food choices overall, which can help fuel your mind and body through the workday and beyond.
Get up and move
When we reached out to the Wellsource team, we heard some feedback that it could be a struggle to remember to get up and move. When you’re in the office it’s totally normal to take a lunch break, chat in a break room for a few minutes, or take a quick walk to clear your head. When you work from home, there are fewer cues to pause work. As a result, many people realized that their movement throughout the day was taking a dive.
To combat that, try to make sure you’re still getting up and moving—eat lunch away from your desk, go for a walk down the street if you need some fresh air, or just set up a recurring time to remind yourself to get up and stretch every so often to keep your blood flowing.
Invest in your mental health
One of the most difficult parts of quarantine for people around the world has been being “trapped” in the same environment 24/7. Balancing your personal and professional life can be tricky at the best of times—but having them completely merge for months on end can be exhausting and stressful for everyone. Our team reported that being able to cut yourself—and your housemates—a break was super important to retain a sense of calm.
If it’s been said once, it’s been said a million times: these are extraordinary times. Trying to act as if everything is normal will just add a level of stress that you don’t need.
How will your teams adjust to remote—or in-person—work in 2021 and beyond?
2020 was a year that demanded workplaces reinvent themselves in fundamental ways. As we navigate the next phase of remote work, I’m proud of Wellsource employees for the ways they've used the last year to step up their pursuit of our company’s number one value: optimal health. We’ve found new ways to live healthier lives and support one another. I’m honored to work with such a dedicated, compassionate, selfless group of people.
Are you looking for new ideas to engage employees and boost your corporate wellness program? Here's a place to start—30 low-cost ideas to encourage wellness.