It’s clear that working from home is becoming the new normal. Studies by economist Nicholas Bloom confirm this emerging reality, with the Stanford professor noting “an incredible 42% of the U.S. labor force now working from home full-time.” According to Bloom, this staggering figure is enough to consider the U.S. as “a working-from-home economy,” as almost twice as many employees are working offsite compared to onsite. This setup has largely been a blessing for both employers and employees, as it allows for work continuity in these uncertain times and has shown to increase productivity.
The Struggle of a Work-from-Home Lifestyle
The working-from-home paradigm isn’t all positive. In fact, it might actually be making Americans inactive and, therefore, unhealthy. As lifestyle blogger James Gonzales points out in a guide, he wrote for remote workers. These setups make going out less enticing, which leads to fewer trips to the gym or any sort of exercise. This is less than ideal, as exercise, or any physical activity for that matter, is vital to your team’s health and, by extension, their ability to stay productive. It is also a key to preventing burnout, the impact we discussed already in the post on Let’s Talk about Burnout. And as we pointed out in the same post, it’s on you to engage your team to alleviate whatever work-related stress they are dealing with.
That said, employee engagement can take many forms, though one that you ought to institutionalize right away is an exercise program. Then, to ensure active participation and this program’s success, you’ll need to make exercise fun for everyone. The following suggestions will help do just that:
Issue Fitness Challenges
An article by Publishous on improving the health of remote workers details how fitness challenges, in conjunction with wellness programs, can “build a culture of health in your organization” and promote strong team bonding. Case in point: A few years back, Houston Methodist CEO Keith Barber used a fitness tracker to track his step count, published the result, and challenged his staff to beat it (while giving them their own fitness tracker) — with a $10,000 cash prize as a reward. The type of challenge, its duration, and the incentive are entirely up to you. But whatever the challenge, always remember that you can use the atlasGO app to help you monitor everyone’s progress.
This is very similar to issuing challenges, but with an end goal of stoking everyone’s competitive fire to entice them into participating. After all, who doesn’t want bragging rights and a reward to boot? A great start would be to organize atlasGO-assisted virtual races so you can design your own race depending on your purpose, your team’s make-up, your budget, and other considerations. In this way, you encourage employee participation in physical activity and support good causes.
Schedule Synchronous Workouts
There is a social component to exercise, and the friendly banter it allows can help make any workout fun and engaging. And as explained by TITLE Boxing Club’s Michael Yabut in an NBC News feature on working out with a crowd, exercising in groups also fosters support and promotes accountability. “It’s an amazing feeling to see [people] do things they never thought they could until it took the person next to them to encourage them to complete that set, rep, a mile or round,” said Yabut. “There’s a bond that is created when a group struggles, sweats, fights, and grinds their way through a tough workout.” You can take advantage of this by organizing regular synchronous workouts via Zoom or whatever videoconferencing platform your company uses.
Allow the Team to Take Charge
Finally, don’t hesitate to let your team run the show. In fact, you should encourage everyone to chip in ideas on how to make exercise fun. Ask everyone to think of fitness-related challenges. Form teams and have them organize fun and friendly competitions. Let every team member lead a scheduled synchronous workout. In this way, you ensure not only increased engagement but also a steady stream of creative ideas.
Written by Rita Joyce