It is undeniable that work life balance is at an all time high currently due to the rise of work from home (WFH) practices. The working class is reporting higher levels of job satisfaction and employers are also chuffed at the increased productivity. Technology has also improved in leaps and bounds. We have a huge selection of employer tracking systems for better productivity and the best pc monitoring software at employer’s disposal, all designed to help increase efficiency and assist in creating a seamless online working experience. But is there a hidden cost to our activity levels due to our remote working practices?
After two years of forced remote work, we are getting better at working collaboratively online but we are also starting to feel the negative effects of working from home.
Isolation, lack of physical social interaction, and the blurring boundaries between work and personal life can take a toll on mental well-being. Additionally, while technology enables connectivity, it also exposes employees to potential overwork, as the lines separating ‘office hours’ from personal time become indistinct. Ensuring a sustainable remote work culture requires addressing these challenges head-on.
Activity levels at an all time low
While the suggested amount of steps one should take every day falls between 8,000 to 10,000, in reality, it has fallen closer to less than 1,000, which is alarming to say the least. In fact, 24% of remote working employees surveyed do not even leave the house. Eye strain, back pain, and shoulder aches are becoming increasingly common due to unhealthy habits of staying in an office chair for an entire day.
This sedentary lifestyle, exacerbated by the pandemic and remote work, is a looming health concern. Not only does it affect physical health, but mental well-being also takes a hit when one is confined indoors without natural sunlight or fresh air. Companies are now recognizing this and are advocating for regular breaks, ergonomic home office setups, and even offering virtual fitness sessions to encourage movement and promote a healthier remote working environment.
Tackling activity levels in the workplace
When we worked in an office, we had to commute – which meant walking – and going out to lunch or general movement in the office. Some offices even have gyms to encourage their employees to create healthy fitness habits. Now that the workforce is largely working from home, their only activity is usually getting up from their bed to their desk.
This drastic reduction in physical activity has profound health implications over the long term. Cardiovascular health, metabolism rate, and bone density can be adversely affected by such a sedentary routine. Moreover, the mental monotony of being in the same environment without change can impact mood and creativity. Many remote workers report feeling “stuck” both mentally and physically. To combat this, it’s essential to consciously incorporate movement into the day, whether it’s short exercise breaks, stretching routines, or even just walking around the house periodically. Emphasizing the importance of regular movement can help in mitigating some of the health challenges posed by the new normal of working from home.
With the help of employer tracking services, employers are able to monitor which employees are at risk of burn-out and proceed with the necessary adjustments to their schedule or workload. Keeping a workforce that is mentally and physically healthy is paramount to the overall efficiency of a company, which is why prioritising employee welfare is so important. Additionally, by using these tracking services ethically, companies can foster trust and transparency with their employees. This not only boosts morale but also cultivates a culture of understanding and mutual respect. Proactively addressing potential issues shows employees they are valued, enhancing loyalty and promoting a healthier, more collaborative work environment.
Encouraging employees to hit the gym
Negotiating a gym membership or providing a wellness allowance could be ways to incentivise employees to become more active. Companies could also come up with challenges – giving employees the chance to earn points that could be exchanged for money or other perks, depending on what industry the company is in. There are many creative ways to spark passion for fitness (or at least, motivate the staff to get moving). These challenges would also create a more engaging environment. Remote workers have often stated isolation as one of the biggest drawbacks of working from home, but when you have fun quests that you can participate in, it might help steer your employees towards building friendships and fostering loyalty because it’s easy to care about a company that cares about you too.
Organizing virtual workout sessions, wellness webinars, or even group meditation hours can add a collective element to these efforts. By introducing team-based fitness goals, companies can foster camaraderie among remote workers, giving them a shared objective. Offering tutorials on ergonomic home office setups or subsidizing ergonomic furniture can also go a long way in prioritizing employee health. Interactive platforms where employees share their fitness journeys, exchange health tips, or celebrate milestones can act as virtual water-coolers, enhancing connection and reducing feelings of isolation. Remember, a holistic approach to well-being not only boosts physical health but also nurtures the mind and spirit, leading to a more productive and harmonious work environment.