How to Include Remote Employees in Workplace Wellness Programs

By May 10, 2018For Companies

Workplace wellness is a critical part of modern day offices. We’ve come too far to continue thinking of work as something separate from life. It’s not normal to be miserable and unhealthy at work, no matter what.

This change in how we view work is taking place quickly. More companies are introducing things such as healthy snack options, gyms, office locker rooms and showers for people to bike to work, meditation and yoga rooms, and so much more. But a lot of these efforts clash with another big workplace trend: telecommuting.

Remote workers count too, and if you don’t include them in benefits packages, they’ll disengage. Yet it can be a real challenge to promote workplace wellness with employees not in the office. So, consider these steps for making sure they’re included in your efforts to make your employees well.

Educate

You don’t want to (and can’t) tell people what to do. To promote and implement workplace wellness programs, you need to find ways to encourage people to want to take care of themselves on their own. Healthy competitions can be a great way to do this, but make sure you make it fun. Having people report on daily step counts, or simply having a place where people can upload pictures of their meals or snacks (much like we all do on Instagram, anyway) can be a fun way to get everyone involved with wellness, even those outside of the office.

But it’s important to accompany these efforts with some discussions about why you’re doing this stuff. Stressing the importance of getting away from your desk frequently is key, and make sure you provide people with plenty of resources so that they can find healthy snacks they enjoy and will stick to. Consider running some training sessions, or simply make time for discussing wellness during meetings. Remember, this doesn’t always have to be about health. Giving people the chance to talk about their lives can be just as beneficial to wellness as eating an apple or going for a bike ride.

Bring wellness to them

Since remote workers aren’t in the office, they often won’t be able to take advantage of some of your wellness initiatives. For example, lots of companies are running gym training or yoga classes at their offices. But if you work from home, these are pretty much useless. So, think about offering telecommuters a discounted membership to their local gym. If you’ve replaced vending machines with healthy, quality snacks, then consider sending remote employees something similar, such as a subscription to a premium coffee service or fruit vendorObviously, expense is something to keep in mind here but do your best to make sure remote employees have access to the same resources as your in-office employees so that they can see just how much of a priority wellness really is.

Remote employees

Show them you care

When people feel valued and appreciated, they are much more likely to want to take care of themselves. It’s hard to be accountable to just ourselves, but when someone else is involved, it’s easier to stay focused on what’s best for us and our health. There’s a fine line here, as you don’t want to pry, and you don’t want people to feel like they’re being watched.  Simply taking time to ask people how they’re doing is huge. And so is listening to people when they feel the need to share a problem. By offering a lending hand when they need it, you are providing people with a reason to take care of themselves. Spend time at the beginning of meetings talking about non-work things and consider setting up a recurring meeting to talk one-on-one with each of your employees. These small gestures show that you care and will go a long way towards helping your wellness programs work, even with remote employees.

Be flexible

Stress and anxiety will destroy wellbeing. And nothing stresses people out like a boss breathing down their neck. Remote workers enjoy telecommuting because it gives them the chance to choose their own schedule and to decide what gets their attention and when. If you need something done, set a deadline and then back away, making yourself available to answer questions as needed. Don’t check in more than is necessary and offer your help when it’s appropriate. Don’t be too strict with time off, and trust people to get the job done in time.

Deal with problems when they arise to avoid micromanaging and creating a stressful work environment. When people start to get nervous about their jobs, any other wellness efforts you may be promoting will fall on deaf ears. Let people live their lives and find their balance, and wellness will come.

Remember, remote workers aren’t in the office, but this does not give you reason to exclude them. They may choose to opt out of certain programs or events, but leave that up to them. Consider taking some of these steps to make sure your remote employees are fully integrated into your office wellness initiatives.

About the author: Raj Jana is the Founder of JavaPresse, a business dedicated to quality products and a positive lifestyle.  


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