Tag Archive for: mental health

5 Ways to Build Physical Activity into Your Hybrid Workplace Culture

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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!


Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site corporate wellness services including massage in the Portland, Oregon metro area and offers virtual workplace wellness programming worldwide. We deliver livestream and on-demand classes, webinars, and extraordinary events to the workplace environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.


Browse our virtual wellness services catalog with offerings including yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, Zumba, HIIT, Barre Sculpt, meditation, nutrition, learning opportunities, and more.

Discover the benefits of the Urban Balance on-demand video library, a workplace wellbeing solution with over 350+ holistic wellness classes. Includes membership options for companies and individuals.



How Workplace Wellness Programs Can Boost Psychological Safety,

Returning to Work: How Workplace Wellness Programs Can Boost Psychological Safety

Mental health, and employee well-being in general, have been prominent topics of conversation throughout the pandemic.

At first, quarantine had an overwhelming impact on everyone’s mental well-being. A sense of isolation paired with never really being able to “shut off” work was an issue at the forefront for so many. Fast forward 18 months to now, when many employers have announced their return-to-work plans and the transition is well underway. It turns out going back to the office has been just as challenging, if not more so, than the sudden switch to remote work.

In June 2021, global management consulting firm McKinsey conducted a survey of 1,602 employed people, in which 1 in 3 employees reported that returning to the office negatively impacted their mental health.

What is Psychological Safety?

Psychological safety at work is marked by the presence of feelings of interpersonal trust and an overall culture of respect and inclusivity that invites members to show up as their whole selves, take risks, and innovate. Ensuring employees feel psychologically safe in the workplace is part of supporting their mental well-being through this new round of changes.

What are the current employee concerns; how can employers help?

Perhaps the most obvious include physical concerns related to contracting COVID-19 or spreading it to loved ones, including immuno-compromised family members and children who may not yet be eligible to receive the vaccine.

Another top-ranking concern is flexibility, which 62% of survey respondents reported could decrease the stress of transitioning back on-site. Many employees are seeking hybrid work arrangements and more time off. In our increasingly busy world, one where employees are often leaving for greener pastures, employers are needing to find ways to accommodate people in this regard.

What role can your workplace wellness program play in supporting psychological safety at work?

Holistic corporate wellness programs can go beyond providing employees with stand-alone movement, meditation, or cooking classes. When executed well, engagement with these offerings helps to create a culture of well-being at work – a culture where qualities like openness, inclusivity, and caring about co-worker’s joys and challenges, becomes normalized — all of which can help to reduce mental health stigma and help employees find a sense of belonging in the workplace.

Livestream and on-site classes — activities done together in real time — serve to bring employees together to cultivate a shared experience, and even a sense of community and purpose, around something other than work. Through interacting with co-workers during a wellness webinar on reducing stress through meditation, for example, employees may come to realize that they have the same anxieties and stressors as some of their peers and feel less alone as a result.

Providing options can help to reduce stress and give employees flexibility in how they engage with your wellness offerings. Each employee population is a little different. Try mixing up your offerings and how they are delivered. If your employee report feeling “Zoomed out” by the end of the day, it may be difficult to get everyone on board to take part in a single virtual class. Instead, try offering a mix of virtual and on-site services, or perhaps some on-demand classes they can take part in when it feels right for them.

For example, try offering 2-3 weekly yoga classes paired with an on-site massage session once per month. If on-site programming does not yet feel accessible in your area yet due to state or local restrictions, it’s something to consider for the future.

Finally, with ‘The Great Resignation’ underway, your employee wellness program has to do double duty — that is, support existing employees while also signaling to prospective team members the type of workplace culture you are looking to prioritize. If you’re in a leadership role, model positive engagement with existing wellness offerings. Stay connected with current employees’ needs, both by surveying and talking with them regularly, while staying abreast of the trends. A quality well-being program is a singular, yet potentially very impactful piece of the puzzle of supporting your team’s mental health.

In Closing

Psychological safety is a huge part of your employee’s overall well-being and prioritizing it in your company’s return-to-work strategy will be of the utmost importance. If your company is seeking a partner to help tailor and execute a corporate wellness program for these times — look no further! We have a deep commitment to understanding the nuances of employee wellness and will be here with you every step of the way.

Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site and virtual corporate wellness services in Portland, Oregon. We deliver yoga, Pilates, meditation, massage, nutrition, and learning opportunities to the office environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.

Check out our catalog of Virtual Wellness Services here.