As employees settle into hybrid work-life, employers must consider how to support them in moving throughout the day. One of the 8 dimensions of wellbeing, physical wellness is not only about keeping the body in shape. We also know it plays a key role in employee mental health helping to ward off depression and anxiety, and generally supporting an elevated mood state.
Though hybrid work has its benefits, one of the negative impacts for many workers is that they move less throughout the day. In fact, a recent study revealed that 60% of employees have reduced their mobility by more than half since they began working remotely – all the more reason to build this essential into workplace culture and make it easy for employees to participate no matter where they’re working from.
Here are a few ways to encourage employees to move more in today’s hybrid workplace:
- Re-design the office to be more active – After the pandemic years of working remotely, many employees have made the personal commitment to incorporate more movement into their lives, whether that looks like some strength training, a Zoom fitness class, or a daily walk. As we know, though, the workday is often busy, especially on employees limited in-office days, and sometimes it can be challenging to follow through on these intentions. Some employees may be tired of being stuck at their desk, and other will have discovered they have more time for exercise than they thought and want to keep that routine going. Offer upgrades like standing desks, schedule walking meetings, and encourage stretch breaks whenever possible.
- Incentivize active commuting – encourage employees to walk or ride their commute (or part of it). This is even more attainable if employees commute to the office has diminished to only a couple of days each week. Create a safe, indoor space where employees can store bikes and other accessories. Consider adding a shower facility to remove the barrier of feeling sweaty during the workday. Companies can even promote “fake commuting” for those working remotely, which might look like a walk or other activity before and/or after work. This can be an effective way to separate work and home life, and a is wonderful way to fit in physical activity. Incentivize participation by creating a challenge connected to any of these options!
- Make announcements active – We know that even a few minutes of movement per day can make a substantial difference. Why not build a little activity into your next meeting? During the announcements portion, have an appointed staff member demonstrate movements or stretches like walking in place, side stretch, shoulder rolls, and neck rolls. These types of movements go a long way to freshening up our energy and may even help some employees boost their ability to listen. Better yet, schedule a professional movement teacher to join your meeting, either virtually or on-site, to take this responsibility off your team’s plate!
- Encourage out-of-office breaks – Encourage employees to take active breaks where they leave the office to take a walk and get fresh air, whether working remotely or on-site. They could even walk to lunch instead of drive. Employees will return feeling renewed and better able to focus on the task at hand.
- Make movement a formal part of your corporate wellness plan – Offer and promote movement classes as a part of your workplace wellness program. Employees working on-site can join from a communal space, while remote workers can connect from home.
Here are a few ideas that can work both virtually and on-site:
- Schedule a weekly yoga class (or 2-3 per week to encourage consistency!)
- Make movement fun – think dance-centric workouts like Zumba® or The Ellové Technique™
- Make it vigorous and sweaty – strength & conditioning, HIIT, SPRK™, barre sculpt, or Pilates are all great go-to’s.
- Slow it down – for employees who would benefit from a more easeful approach to movement, Tai Chi and Qigong practices are made up of gentle, meditative movements that support stress reduction.
With any movement classes your company might implement:
The most impactful movement classes are inclusive of different bodies and create opportunities for employees to participate in different ways. In a yoga class for example, remind participants they can move close to a wall to support their balance, practice seated or standing, rest, or even stop and simply watch the class at any time. Present options in such a way that all are equal instead of certain options feeling “less than.” (i.e. – if you can’t do this, then do it this easier way).
Why this matters:
Throughout our lives, we have all received implicit and/or explicit messaging about our bodies and what they are capable of. This means within any employee group, there are those who may feel intimidated when it comes to movement, or who do not feel confident or safe being in their body.
So, be sure to seek out corporate wellness instructors who are experienced in supporting people with a wide range of physical abilities and lead practices that are inclusive of everyone in the room. Remember – in the end, employees’ presence is the most important thing!
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