The sense of connection and community between groups in society has been put to the test in recent months by the coronavirus pandemic, and the workplace is no exception.  Our usual routines that included water cooler chats and shared lunch breaks came to a halt and we were left to work alone in our homes.

Social connection has always been an important part of the workplace, but perhaps more so since we’ve been living and working in isolation for much longer than any of us have been comfortable with.  Technology has definitely helped us bridge the gap between face-to-face contact and total separation, and many people have found creative ways to use technology to socialize and stay connected with friends and colleagues.

Although we are slowly working our way back to our workplaces, there are likely more weeks of remote work ahead for many of us, and physical distancing requirements will continue to be part of our new reality.  So how can we continue to promote connection in the workplace and, at the same time, encourage healthy habits?

  1. If you are back in the office, hold meetings outdoors. Make them walking meetings to get people moving or simply gather to enjoy some fresh air (and green space if possible).  Both offer a host of physical and mental health benefits.  For those who are still working remotely, encourage employees to bring their laptops outside and enjoy the weather while you get work done.
  2. Start a Good Things message board and encourage employees (and managers) to share happy comments, ideas, activities, and achievements. Anything that puts a smile on your face.  Taking the time to think of and share “good things” is a great way to put your mind in a positive space for the day and refocus your mindset.  Leverage technology like Slack to bring this activity online.
  3. Keep everyone hydrated with an H20 challenge. We all know it’s important to drink water, but most of us don’t drink enough.  The recent changes to work schedules may also mean your caffeine intake has increased.  This is a fun way to focus on a simple, but healthy change.  Challenges are also a fun way to bring employees together through some friendly competition.  Kick off the challenge by gifting employees branded water bottles.

4. Remind employees to take a break and stretch. Whether working in the office or at home, we all fall into the trap of skipping breaks and working through lunch in an effort to be more productive.  We often need to be reminded of the benefits of a break.  It helps us recharge and focus better when we return to our task.  It also gives our bodies a much-needed opportunity to move.  If you’re in an office with a speaker system, play music at break times as a reminder to step away from the desk.  You can also use technology to send reminders by email or instant message, or even create a reminder bot.

5. Keep people smiling with a weekly laugh. Send a joke, meme, or funny story by email or start a Slack channel.  Infusing a bit of fun into the workday is great for our mental well-being.  Sometimes humour is the best remedy to momentarily distract us from a stressful situation.

6. Make wellness personal by encouraging employees to choose a wellness goal that speaks to them. Offer support and encouragement through peer-based programs.  If there are common themes, create online message boards or Slack channels where those with similar goals can share tips and resources, celebrate progress, and cheer each other on.

7. Create an office recipe collection and invite employees to share their favourites. Create a group Pinterest board and organize recipes by season or categories like meatless meals and healthy snacks.  Start building the collection now, so you can put the recipes to the test by hosting a celebratory office potluck when the pandemic is behind us.

8. Grow a garden. If you’re lucky, you’ve got some space to start a company garden.  Employees can work together to grow vegetables, berries and herbs and share in the result of their hard work.  Another option is to start a garden club and give employees seeds or plants to grow at home.  Container gardening works too, so anyone can participate.

You’ll find some resources on the value of growing a garden along with some tips on our Stay Safe Stay Healthy portal.  Find them in the Nutrition section!

9. Start a fitness club. Gyms are still closed and some of us have let our workout routines fall to the wayside as we juggle family responsibilities with working from home.  Help employees get back on track.  Maybe you have a fitness or yoga instructor on staff who can lead weekly online workouts or register your company with an external instructor.  There are also online resources you can leverage to run your own online sessions.  A team approach helps keep everyone accountable and motivated.

Need some more assistance?

Get your FREE Corporate Wellness Membership 90-Day Starter Kit to get you started!  Employee Wellness Solutions Network can help you create a healthier culture resulting in a more profitable and successful workplace. Our memberships give you access to services including corporate wellness specialists, trainers and health coaches to help you create the best strategy for your organization.  To learn more about the memberships, visit Employee Wellness Solutions Network.