Adapting Wellness Challenges to Work-from-Home Realities

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Summary: Employees involved in wellness programs are more productive and have fewer sick days. Even if your staff is mainly working from home, you can encourage employee health, morale, and community through a wellness challenge.

Adapting Wellness Challenges to Work-from-Home Realities

Workplace-based wellness challenges have been popular for years. But what happens when employees are working from home?

Wellness challenges encourage employees to create healthy habits. This can help them stay happy and productive on the job. Challenges can also encourage employee community and support.

Team spirit and friendly competition is easier to stir up when coworkers are in the office together. But it is still possible to hold a successful wellness challenge when they are working from home. It can also help keep employees feeling connected to each other and the organization.

Wellness challenge guiding principles

Successful wellness challenges follow a few guiding principles:

  • They are inclusive for employees with varying levels of physical abilities and health situations. This is important for both morale and legal reasons.
  • They use a broad definition of wellness, beyond exercise and nutrition, to support both physical and mental well-being.
  • They align with the company’s goals and values.

These guidelines serve as a solid foundation for an effective program regardless of location.

Adapting activities for working from home

If you have had a workplace wellness challenge in the past, adapting it to an at-home version may be straightforward. After all, employees can walk, eat healthy foods, drink more water, or meditate anywhere.

If you are creating a new wellness challenge for those working from home, simple options include:

  • Doing a simple physical activity for five to 10 minutes per day, three days a week.
  • Keeping a gratitude log: Employees can write down one thing they are grateful for each day. These can be private or shared during staff meetings or other group sessions. For example, they could include projects they are grateful for or moments with colleagues.
  • Completing an intellectual workout, finishing a puzzle, or participating in a game.
  • Drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day.
  • Eating five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
  • Spending five minutes a day practicing mindfulness or meditation.

With so many at home, you could add alternative activities for their locations.

Video conferences are now common for teams that are collaborating from separate locations. This can make employees who normally would have gathered in a meeting room at the office feel glued to their computer screen. Try these activities to break up the sitting and screen time:

Taking a two-minute mini-break every 20 minutes. You can pause the meeting and encourage participants to stand, stretch, have a drink of water. Try putting on music for a quick dance party.

Setting up 25- or 55-minute meetings. Instead of scheduling meetings for a half hour or full hour, set them to end five minutes earlier. You can encourage others to use that five minutes stretching and moving

Having phone meetings instead of video. Just because you can use videoconferencing for meetings does not mean you must. Meeting by phone gives participants more flexibility to move around while they listen and talk.

Taking time to go outside may take more thought and planning when the transition from home to work does not involve leaving the house. To encourage employees to go out for some fresh air, include an outdoors challenge activity, such as:

  • Sharing an inspiring photo from a walk they took outside.
  • Going outside and taking five deep breaths at least once a day.
  • Counting the number of steps it takes to walk around the building or the block where they live.

As the days become shorter and cooler, you might adjust the challenge for the season. Try to include options that encourage employees to stay active in spite of inclement weather and less daylight.

For example, you can encourage healthy eating with a recipe exchange focused on seasonal vegetables. Another option is an indoor exercise challenge using household items for weighted props. Common examples include gallon jugs of water, containers of laundry detergent, and canned goods.

Long-term benefits

Keeping your employees engaged when they are working apart has long-term benefits for your business. Wellness challenges support that engagement and connection.

Employees involved in wellness programs are more productive and have fewer sick days. And according to Gallup, employees with high wellbeing are better able to weather tough times.

With a few adaptations and some creativity, a wellness challenge can have a positive impact on your WFH employees.

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