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Encouraging your employees to use wellbeing to cope with the extended work from home reality

By Angela Knox | Feb 8, 2021

 

It's a well established fact that for some employees working from home seems like an alien concept which takes some adjustment. 

When you’re used to a routine that involves travelling to the office, chatting with colleagues, getting into the office ‘buzz’ and collaborating on work projects in the real world of physical meetings, suddenly being plunged into a different reality and turning part of your home into a zoom-focused work den can seem counter-intuitive.

Human beings are generally creatures of habit, and adjusting to the new normal of integrating work and home life can be tricky.  But making a positive mental adjustment and embracing this new world will help to make the experience more enjoyable, rather than something to dread.  And employers can help with that process by providing support mechanisms, such as wellbeing programmes that help employees to cope with all the adjustments.

A work day, whether it’s in an office, at home or elsewhere, should encompass elements of self-care within a pleasant working environment that enables us to maintain maximum health and wellbeing on all levels - physical, mental and financial.

The fact that home working is now becoming much more the norm has shone a brighter light on the need for wellbeing in all its forms, which is a good thing.  Everyone should be able to cultivate and practise healthy habits so as to maintain a healthy lifestyle which also enables maximum productivity and contentedness.

How employers can help

Employers are recognising this syndrome in ever greater numbers and are starting to provide advice, guidance and tools to their employees as they see all of the benefits - both from the employer’s and employee’s perspective.

In order for an employee to plan their working life from home, they will need to consciously put in place some rules and facilitate access to external resources - some employers may help in this respect and even provide these.

Setting up a home working desk environment properly is essential, with enough room to move around regularly and ideally with natural light.  The chair should be comfortable and at the correct height; some employers have experts in ergonomics to offer guidance on this, some will provide the equipment as well. 

Encouraging employees to adopt healthy habits

After helping employees to set up their home environments, there are other aspects of wellbeing that are needed right now more than ever - here's a quick round-up of our platform and how it gives employers the tools their employees need.

Keep Fit

Moving around frequently is key, and consciously breaking up sedentary time is vital for employee health, so doing regular exercise is vital.  Some of this can be done around the desk area, and it is also very important to build some cardio exercise like walking, running or cycling into the working day.  It’s all too easy to get carried away with work assignments and not move from the desk for hours at at time - this is not a good prescription for long-term health and can become a dangerous habit for those of us who work at computers.  

This is why we have created a range of exercise videos which include lots of demonstrations of simple routines you can do while working at your desk - that's our Keep Fit module (one of seven).  We also provide a range of more up tempo exercise and stretching videos so employees can change things up through the day depending on their schedule. 

Eat Fit

One of the great advantages of working at home is flexibility.  And when it comes to getting adequate nutrition, cooking using fresh ingredients (we provide access to 400,000 searchable recipes) will pay dividends for maximising productivity and general wellbeing. 

So instead of going to the nearest takeaway or sandwich shop as most people do in an office (or even skip lunch altogether), encourage your employees to make the effort to prepare something fresh and nutritious - they will be all the better for it, and reap the benefits both physically and mentally.  Water intake is also vital - at least 3 litres per day is ideal and fizzy drinks should be avoided at all costs as these are loaded with sugar and additives.

Mind Fit

Mental health is one of the big challenges of lockdown, and whether it’s isolation and lack of communication with colleagues or change of routine, there are many reasons why people are suffering with this.  Encourage your employees to build some meditation or mindfulness into their day, to maintain a sense of perspective, and maximise communication with work colleagues - whether it’s via zoom calls, emails or the mobile.  Our Mind Fit module within our programme has lots of helpful material including a full mindfulness course, meditation sessions and chill-out music.

Also, reaching out to friends and colleagues on a phone call can be hugely helpful as it is something we are all getting out of the habit of doing.  That little piece of interaction can be really uplifting as well as helpful for a work project, where previously taking part in a physical meeting would have been more usual.

Sleep Fit

Getting the proper amount of quality sleep is also vitally important and is one of the areas many people have had problems with during lockdown.  We have a set of tools within our Sleep Fit module that address this and provide learning materials and practical advice to help cultivate healthy sleep practices.

Wellbeing is interconnected through physical, mental and financial elements - so if there is one or more of these aspects that is out of sync, many employees may end up experiencing sleep problems.  Also, caffeine intake is something that affects sleep, so exceeding the recommended daily amounts is not recommended, in particular later in the afternoon and into the evening.  

Meditation, mindfulness, exercise and good nutrition will help with sleep - as well as the discipline of going to bed at a time that allows for at least 7 - 8 hours of quality sleep and waking up refreshed and ready to tackle the activities of a new day.  

Money Fit

Helping employees to manage their finances effectively is another vital part of wellbeing, and one which is becoming more of a discussion point than ever, which is why we have included helpful and practical information and a budget planner within this module.  If employees have money worries they will be distracted at work and be more likely to suffer from stress and maybe even become ill.  Providing help to employees to be able to manage this is an important tool in the wellbeing armoury, and another way of helping to form positive habits that will last a lifetime.

Retire Fit

Thinking about how to spend fulfilling and relaxing time in retirement is a key wellbeing consideration - as many people get to the big day and experience an anti-climax as the familiar routine they have had in the past suddenly disappears.  So helping employees to think about what they want to do with their time, as well as keeping fit, healthy and with sound finances in place, are all key aspects of retirement planning.  Which is exactly what you will find in our Retire Fit module.

Mums Fit

If your employees are on maternity leave, they don't want to feel disconnected from their work colleagues and routines.  So we've provided a range of exercise videos, audiobooks and written material designed for employees to use while they are preparing for the big day and afterwards, whilst on maternity leave.  It's even more crucial that while working from home and during the pre- and post-natal phase, employees feel supported and connected, and have the tools to maintain their health, fitness and general wellbeing.

Summing up

Adopting these healthy practices across all areas of wellbeing will allow the body and mind to function properly, and gives a focus for planning out each day with a structured approach.  It is more important now than ever before to equip employees with the right information and help, and if deployment by the employer is accompanied by good employee participation it will pay dividends during lockdown and beyond. 

Angela Knox

Angela Knox

I am a co-founder and director of Keep Fit Eat Fit Wellbeing Ltd and have come from a business and marketing background over many years, with a particular interest in everything to do with health, fitness and overall wellbeing. Having worked in offices for decades, I know the pitfalls of too much sitting at a desk, the challenges of fitting the gym around other commitments, and all the issues addressed within our website. The personal experiences of me and my partner Mark were the original inspiration for the concept of this website. Enjoy!