How to build a culture of wellness with remote teams?

Employees’ well-being is at the core of a strong, engaged, and productive workplace. As remote work has been growing rapidly – witnessing an increase of 140% since 2005, according to Owl Labs, it’s imperative not just to identify the chances for extra stress that this work model creates, but also to encourage remote teams to engage in various wellness activities.

The figures from MetLife’s Annual US employee benefit trends report 2021 show that 44% of remote workers have serious concerns about their physical, mental, and social health, and 80% believe their employers have a responsibility to address their health and wellbeing, especially in the difficult pandemic situation.

Let’s agree that wellness – a mindful and evolving process of achieving full potential – should be part of every remote company’s culture.

Wellness has a multidimensional face

The National Wellness Institute identified 6 equally important dimensions of wellness – emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual. The idea is that all elements of an employee’s health need support to remain strong and healthy at both personal and organizational levels. 

Consciously focusing on wellness, through communication and training, remote employees become more focused on the company’s goals, resilient, and thrive amidst work and life’s hurdles.

The six dimensions of wellness

Remote organizations can use this 6 Dimensional Model to build a culture of wellness with their teams.

Moreover, there are 3 simple questions formed by the National Wellness Institute. They aim to help leaders evaluate to what extent wellness is present into a program or activity:

1) Does this help employees achieve their full potential?

2) Does this recognize and address every dimension of employees’ wellness?

3) Does this affirm and provoke the positive qualities and strengths of the employees? 

Possible activities to embrace wellness and make it part of a remote team’s culture

We’ve prepared a list of approved activities that would effectively help workers de-stress, beat anxiety, feel happier and more engaged, and why not even recover from burnout (especially when combined in a wellness program). 

A treasure chest of useful resources

Take the time to create a treasure chest of wellness-oriented information. It can include curated content, podcasts, e-books, webinars focused on mental and physical health, diet and nutrition, sleep, etc.

Having a shortcut to various useful materials would help work-from-home employees find quickly what works best for them. 

Another positive approach is the development of a personalized Training and Development program. This would help employees, especially in the remote/hybrid setting where they are more scattered than ever — at home, in offices, in the other corner of the world. Such a program is helpful in increasing engagement and enthusiasm for professional development, as well as making employees feel more valued at work.

Virtual, one-on-one coffee breaks

The random one-on-one calls between both remote employees and employees and leaders help fight the feeling of isolation that often comes with remote work. People don’t necessarily have to speak about work. It’s always a good idea to switch off for 15 minutes. Have a good laugh and/or share some knowledge.

Also, it’s crucial for remote companies to invest in developing and facilitating an internal community of people who care about each other, share common hobbies and values, and keep each other focused on the company’s vision and goals.

Daily physical activities are at the forefront

Remote working has eliminated commuting, and many professionals have become one with their chairs without realizing how bad it is not just for their body, but also for their mental health. Here comes the importance of encouraging them to do physical activities.

Being active releases chemicals in our brain that boost our self-confidence, helping us stay focused and energized, sleep better, and have a sense of achievement.

Some ways to inspire more members in a remote workplace to get active are:

– try some online yoga classes

– include gym membership, monthly sport card, or sporting equipment as a part of your remote company’s benefit package

– run weekly or monthly fitness or running challenges with incentives (i.e. comparing distances from everyone’s fitness apps and trackers)

24/7 access to professional counselling

Providing counselling support for remote employees could help leaders take the right path to a more positive remote culture. As there are two options here – either hiring a psychologist for online sessions, or subscribing to therapy app(s), such as BetterHelp, Talkspace, and 7 Cups. One thing’s for sure – an employee’s life can be turned around with a confidential consultation with an expert.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

Remote organizations should build a clear strategy for promoting healthy eating habits. It’s proven that balanced, nutritious food directly impacts employee’s mood and energy levels. It also boosts their productivity and helps them stay focused longer. So, consider organizing internal webinars on nutrition. Or, have a Slack channel “Healthy Little Foodies” or “The Great Bake Off”. It’s where you share recipes, useful resources, or even running cooking challenges.

Here are a bunch of things to avoid as a remote worker in terms of wellness:

– dehydration (leads to headaches and fatigue)

– junk food and sweets (causes lack of focus, stomachache, and rapid weight gain)

– having too much coffee (provokes headaches, digestive issues, anxiety, and even panic attacks)

– having lunch in front of the computer (might cause overeating and decreased satiety) 

PTO as a hot topic, not a taboo

Last but not least, casual reminders for employees to use their paid time off (PTO) won’t hurt anyone. It’s scientifically proven that just a single day off away from screens and email notifications, can do wonders for overall well-being, and productivity. 

The flexible arrangements are also directly impacting people’s well-being. In FlexJobs’ recent survey among 3 900 people, of the 2100 people who reported they had a mental illness, such as anxiety or depression, 80% said that having a flexible job would help them manage their mental health.

Create a killer Work From Home Policy

Every organization, regardless of size, industry, and location, that will stick to a remote or hybrid work model in the future, needs to create a Work From Home Policy and ensure all team members are well-informed.

Along with communication channels, working hours, benefits package, and more, this policy should also cover the company’s culture. Meaning – the wellness program/practices in the organization should be also defined and included. This will ensure your remote teams that their wellness is a priority for the company.

Have you checked our article The Remote Workplace Trends that Defined 2021?

Teodora is a brand development strategist and a 5+ year blockchain content writer.  A passionate snowboarder, hiker, and gender-equality-in-tech enthusiast on her mission to find the most delicious ramen in the world.


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