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Workplace Wellness Tips to Implement While Working Remotely

2020 has had a pretty rough start with the onslaught of COVID-19. All aspects of our daily lives have seen impacts from the pandemic, from food supplies to financial markets, school, and nearly all local businesses and offices. As companies are struggling to find footing in the midst of a global health crisis it's is even more important to focus on their most critical assets: their people. As employees have made the shift from boardrooms to online chatrooms, companies are preparing to pivot into a new era of workplace productivity. Even though remote work has become increasingly more common over the past few years, many professionals still filled their workdays while inside an office. One need that remains constant throughout it all, is the need for employee wellness.

Wellness, both physically and mentally, is especially key in these times of uncertainty. Companies and teams should prioritize workplace wellness by collectively taking action to create an encouraging, safe, and healthy environment inside and outside of the traditional office setting.

Outbreaks such as the one from coronavirus can have negative, lasting impacts on work performance. Employees are dealing with a new sense of work/life balance, while also finding ways to cope with the community and social impacts of social distancing. It can all take a toll on one's mental, emotional and physical health. It's important that leaders step up and find ways to support and protect their coworkers by providing resources and encouraging their employees to make wellness a priority, both on and off the clock.

So what exactly does workplace wellness look like now that we are in a “work from anywhere” culture? Here are four workplace wellness trends that you can implement through virtual collaboration so that your team stays productive and positive.

Boost morale by being present and empathetic
This is a stressful time for all, and it can be difficult to navigate for employees trying to adapt and adjust to a "new normal". Make sure that your team knows that you are present and providing support to them during this time. Honest and transparent communication is critical, as there will be many worries and feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. It’s important to address the situation with your team from the start, even if you have not created a plan and there are many unanswerable questions. You also want to be sure to be empathetic and attentive in your tone and how you handle the situations that arise.

Remember that your team is trying. Use positive and encouraging words when speaking with individuals, and be mindful of your interactions. A little empathy and positivity can go a long way. It decreases the chances of prolonged stress and hypertension amongst employees and leaders and also encourages productivity among your employees. Your goal as a leader is to navigate your people through the crisis with as little disruption as possible to productivity and personal lives. Employees will remember how your company responded during this time, and being proactive, and encouraging will help with retention down the road.

Dedicate times for wellness activities
Wellness programs can make work more enjoyable for employees, increase productivity, and promote healthy habits that benefit mental and physical health both while on the job and at home. Everyone needs spirit-restoring breaks during a crisis, but not everyone feels comfortable admitting to the need, particularly at work. Keep employees engaged and active through team-building group activities or challenges. Use online groups like LinkedIn, Facebook and even Slack channels to create online company-wide wellness groups. Inside the group, you can post weekly goals, or challenges, track activity progress, send encouragement to team members, and more, while keeping your team connected. You can also sync your schedules on select days and designate times for walking meetings, encouraging workers to take a brief walk outdoors or schedule time blocks for group meditation or activities.

Host virtual "lunch and learn" meetings
Lunch hours remain standard even with telecommuting. Spend this time together by joining a team meeting to enjoy lunch together. It gives people who are seeking shelter-in-place, alone, the chance to stay connected to real people, while also giving your team time to talk, laugh, and keep the sense of positive office culture alive. Take the meetings a step further by inviting a physical trainer or mental health coordinator to join the team for an hour to provide education and resources to the team, or even to take advantage of actionable exercises.

Encourage employees to disconnect
We all need to recharge. Recent days see an increase in online connectivity. That means an increase in the time we spend on our laptops and phones than with our families. Where there used to be a time when employees could "clock out" and focus on their home lives, being constantly plugged in, means feeling the need to answer an urgent email while trying to make dinner or tuck their kids into bed. This is where leaders and employers can intervene. it is crucial that employees have separate work and personal life in order to maintain balance and also to keep them from burning out. Encourage your team to "log out" and set forwarding or away messages when the workday is complete. Enforce "after 5" policies where staff and team members are to not answer any work communications after 5 pm unless there is an emergency.

Incorporating just a few simple changes, like these, and making an effort to provide support for your team in the face of adversity, can truly make all the difference in upgrading your office culture and promoting a wellness-focused office.

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