How will work and workplaces evolve in the future?” was the question that thought leaders tried to answer during the Global Wellness Institute roundtable meeting held on July 15 at Everyday Health's headquarters in New York City. Susie Ellis, chairman and CEO of the Global Wellness Institute, and Renee Moorefield, PhD, and CEO of Wisdom Works, co-moderated the roundtable of experts from medical, business, health, science, research and media specialties. The experts agreed that more people are working remotely, especially within digital industries.
With about 3.3 million Americans telecommuting, the new workplace is out-of-the-office. Factors contributing to the rise of telecommuting include an increased availability of remote job opportunities, and more technologies allowing for remote work. Whether you enjoy working from home or not, there are some emotional and physical health benefits, like reduced stress and a better work-life balance. But with the rise in telecommuting comes more challenges for business leaders to keep their employees healthy and happy.
5 Ways to Cultivate Healthy Habits in Telecommuters
Working remotely has different benefits for different people, whether it’s a Millennial who wants more flexible work hours, or an aging employee who prefers the convenience of working from home. Some ways employers can improve the health and well-being of their remote employees include:
1. Provide appropriate work equipment. Few organizations provide equipment for their mobile workforce, says James Brewer, a workspace consultant at Steelcase. Yet creating an ergonomic process -- designing a workspace to best fit employees and maximize productivity -- can help prevent injury in people with desk jobs. Practice good ergonomics with these helpful tips.
2. Define work-life boundaries. In our 24/7 culture, it's sometimes difficult to log off, and our bodies could suffer because of it. Research has shown that stress affects emotional and physical health and can exacerbate back pain, depression and gastrointestinal issues.
Business leaders should encourage employees to make time off a priority, and unplug after designated business hours, say the experts. Managers can do this by creating blackout periods where employees aren't required to respond to emails or calls.
3. Consider the different “likes” of employees. All employees are different. Some Millennials may want to be connected 24/7, while others prefer logging off. Employees working in different regions of the world also have different health and wellness expectations.
Mim Senft, wellness director for Plus One Health Management at Optum, says she’s found that employees in London are more focused on mindfulness, while employees in India focus on financial wellness. Managers can help their employees stay healthy by remembering that each employee is different and may thrive with different wellness goals.
4. Lead by example. The experts agreed that improved health and wellness often starts at the top. Wellness should be engrained in company culture, and leaders should set the example. Everyday Health, for instance, has created a new policy where employees can take a Health Day and pledge to get whatever test, checkup, or screening they’ve been postponing, or just take the day to mentally reboot.
5. Make physical activity a priority. The U.S. has been successful in wellness areas like stress management and tobacco cessation, but falls short when it comes to physical activity, says Michael Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. In fact, only 20 percent of American adults get the recommended amounts of both aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Reap the health benefits of exercise by opting for a lunchtime walk, a yoga session with your spouse, or a quick five-minute workout.
5 Ways To Stay Healthy While Working From Home originally appeared on Everyday Health.