2020 has been a tough year for almost all businesses – with office closures, working from home, managing families and implementing health protocols when out and about, it has been really disrupted.

And the impact has been felt at many levels, not least of all on our stress levels and overall health. One of the biggest challenges has been setting up and maintaining good habits around our daily routines including eating, exercise, managing screen time, and managing downtime and rest.

Whether in the office or working from home, it’s easy to fall into bad habits or blur the lines between working hours and non-working hours (especially for those working at home).

To help you find a better balance, here are some top tips to implement at the office to help you maintain a healthier, more active and happier workforce. Please note, for all these recommendations you’ll need to implement them within the Covid-19 safety guidelines, observing social distancing and other protocols as required.

#1 Find out what your employees think

It’s easy to assume what your team thinks are common health-related challenges in the workplace, and how you might alleviate these. But actually, the better way to kick off a programme is simply to ask your team what they think, and how they’d like to go about tackling the problems. That way, you’ll likely get a far greater ‘buy-in’ and commitment to the cause, adding even more value to the result.

#2 Focus on the key areas

A great starting point for change is to categorise the challenges – for example, overall health, diet and eating, rest and downtime, exercise, mental health, and at-work habits. Then establish how to implement change within each of these to bring about an overall positive change.

#3 Assess overall health

Understanding the general health of your team can set a baseline from which to work – you can start by bringing in some healthcare practitioners to assess each staff member (with their permission, of course) so that basic metrics are understood. Be mindful that not all staff may want to be assessed, or that some may prefer to keep certain aspects of their health to themselves.

#4 Help with diet and eating

One of the easiest ways to help employees improve their diet is to facilitate better habits with the right equipment – installing a blender, juicer, sandwich press, water cooler and other kitchen tools that promote a more wholesome diet can really kick things off in the right way.

Added to this, bring in fresh fruit every day, add herbal teas to your kitchen, and remove any sugary drinks and snacks from vending machines (if you have them). And for staff meetings, training sessions and events, ensure the catering matches the new approach!

In terms of habits, consider ways of encouraging your staff to drink more water and to take their meal breaks regularly, and away from their desks and computers.

#5 Rest, downtime and exercise

One of the most essential and yet most overlooked aspects of maintaining a healthy workforce is finding the balance between active working time, resting (during work and after), total downtime and regular exercise. It sounds like a lot to consider but actually it’s not – speak to your team about their working hours and habits, and how things can be moved around or amended to help them find a balance.

Whether it’s a chill room at the office where they can grab 15 minutes away from their computer and phone, a flexible working schedule to help them spend more quality time with their children or a gym membership as part of their package to help them get off-site to exercise or do yoga, finding out more about what works for them is a great starting point.

To really incentivize a more active workforce, consider providing each team member with a wearable fitness tracker such as a Fitbit, and encourage walking meetings (rather than desk-bound or meeting room-based). You can also encourage a company sports day, team outings to fun walks/runs, an incentive for employees who cycle or walk to work, step count challenges, and in-office yoga sessions. Add a shower at work so that the team can exercise on the way to work or during their regular breaks, and shower once they’re done.

You should also encourage your staff to move regularly when they are at work – every 20-30 mins sitting time should be interrupted with 2-5 mins standing or walking to help circulation, breathing, posture and mental health. You can also help by installing standing desks and ergonomic chairs, and ensuring that staff have good knowledge of at-desk exercises and stretching routines they can do to promote better posture and flexibility.

#6 Mental health is a must

Keeping your team active and eating well is important, but being aware of their mental health is just as important – and there are simple ways to ensure your team feels motivated, able to deal with any stress (work and non-work related) and positive. Offer a company-wide mental health plan that gives practical guidance on how to maintain a healthy work-life balance, gives strategies and tools to cope with stress and support lines for when things get on top of you. Ensure your management team undergoes training to help them identify signs that a staff member may be having problems, and how to help them resolve these.

Encourage communication and run regular surveys to assess your team’s mental health status. Bring in professionals to help guide team members on coping mechanisms, help and support organisations, meditation techniques and good in-office habits to promote a healthy state of mind.

In summary, creating a positive, happy and healthy workplace culture involves a lot of planning and implementation – from office set-up and environment to collaborative communication there is much to consider. Get the guidance and advice you need to create a workplace that truly reflects your company’s philosophy and approach. Contact Officescape LLP today on 01223 581 185 or info@officescapellp.co.uk.

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