Future of Work News

Wellness While Working from Anywhere

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For the past 12 months, people have had to adapt to almost daily upheaval in both their personal and professional lives. Forgive my candor, but the term “new normal” borders on farcicality because there is nothing normal about the world today.

In a recent paper, Woodruff Sawyer, one of the largest insurance brokerage and consulting firms in the U.S., noted that employers are in a unique position to address employee wellness. For many companies, this means extending their investments in resources that help employees acclimate to working in home environments.

Employers, writes Woodruff Sawyer, should create a remote work policy that includes details about work-from-anywhere (WFA) arrangements, including who is eligible and what hours they must be available. Employers must address one of the biggest challenges remote employees face: technical issues. IT assistance and security protocols should also be outlined, including equipment, software, mobile app, and access policies.

Secure, easy-to-use cloud-based communications and collaboration services provide agility for hybrid work environments and employees with the flexibility and choice of working either onsite or remotely – or both. However, until people are presented with this choice, there are risks much more dangerous than interrupted workflows.

According to Gallup, a top concern for remote employees is loneliness, which can impact many of the different facets that make up employee well-being. The psychological and emotional toll of being shut-in and isolated can be catastrophic.

As such, whether a team member is in the office or working from home, employers must think outside the box to support each of their workers.

Emphasis on employee health

Physical wellness goes beyond gym memberships. Creating benefits and programs that target diabetes, heart disease, musculoskeletal injuries, and opioid use is a critical part of all programs, improving both employee health and employer productivity. Incentive programs, exercise program discounts, subscription services to interactive online services, and chronic condition point solutions have been well-received by employees.

The firm cited one survey of employee expectations, highlighting, “the burnout associated with the pandemic is expected to cost the global economy over $323 billion annually, resulting in an overall and dramatic reduction in employee well-being. As a result, employers should focus not just on employee engagement, but employee health and well-being for the company’s brand and long-term success.”

So much of our day-to-day lockdown existence is sedentary, and it’s time to break bad habits.  While vaccines are hopefully around the corner for many, it is still very much a work from home existence where the work/life balance blurs more than ever. 

The American Heart Association has recommended that people break the sedentary style of sitting by walking a minimum of 10,000 steps per day.  In addition to basic movements, it’s important to take breaks in between deep work sessions, and try to get out of the house when possible. 

Nature is a welcome sight after so many hours in front of screens.

Ergonomics

Ergonomic inadequacies of home offices can increase the health risks of employees stuck in front of their computers for eight hours or longer.  One way to break the chain of eye and muscle strain is to learn advanced muscle activation techniques.

Back pain alone leads to a shocking 264 million lost workdays each year, with individuals missing an average of 12 days of work.  Many do not realize that tightness is a sign of muscle weakness, and strengthening these muscles is the key to success.

Self-care

Proper sleep habits are more important than ever. Getting at least the recommended 6-7 hours of sleep, putting away screens before bedtime and away from your sleep zone can rejuvinate you to face the next day with vigor and enthusiasm.

Also, drinking plenty of water at night and throughout the day, taking natural supplements (and knowing where to get proper supplements on Amazon, which controls over 77% of the market) are essential during these unprecedented times.  The global supplements market will be an incredible $231 billion by 2027, up from $123 billion in 2019.  

Supplements are often mislabeled, which is why it’s important to look for a trustworthy supplement.  Amazon announced Project Zero back in 2019 to scan for counterfeit listings.

Boundaries, video fatigue, and inclusivity

Video meeting service providers are reporting astronomical demand – so much so that people are growing tired of joining multiple face-to-face videoconferences each day. Seamless access to collaboration requires boundaries; just because you can contact your assistant at 11 PM by chat doesn’t mean you should.

On the other side of the coin, there is a large contingent of workers whose roles do not require video collaboration and, as a result, they are more isolated than ever. Social well-being is a direct challenge for these remote employees, noted Woodruff Sawyer. In fact, research from Gallup shows that, of newly remote employees, the most common challenge is loneliness, with 21% reporting it as their biggest struggle with working remotely.

Loneliness can be a detriment to not only employees’ mental well-being, but also their social well-being. However, employers can take actions to help address social well-being for their workforces – even for remote employees – by implementing programs that encourage socialization, such as volunteering, living sustainably and creating forums for remote employees to interact with their peers outside of work discussions.




Edited by Erik Linask

Future of Work Contributor

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