In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, organizations have had to quickly turn to remote work as a necessary step to continue their operations. Prior to this, only 3.6% of the workforce worked from home half-time or more. (1/Gallup Poll) According to Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics, that statistic is about to change, dramatically. The longer employees are required to work from home, the greater the increase in remote work when “the dust settles.” Remote work is expected to increase to 25-30% by 2021.
“25-30% of the workforce will be working from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021”
In addition to ensuring remote employees have the necessary technology and training tools, business leaders are realizing the need to provide the appropriate wellness tools for employees to thrive in this new landscape.
So, what exactly are these needs and tools?
The Global Wellness Institute published its Wellness at Work trends for 2020 and beyond and the message is one of corporate responsibility and activism that bypasses a metric-focused approach and, instead, focuses on both the physical and mental health and safety of the employee. Business leaders agree, recommending that while continued operations are important, companies should prioritize the health and safety of their employees, as employers cannot conduct business without a healthy workforce.
Health and Safety of Employees: A Corporate Responsibility
Where wellness, for many companies, has historically been something “nice to have,” the Global Wellness Institute predicts it will become more of “must have.” The need for support and well-being will be greater as our world adjusts to a work-lifestyle quite different than before. It will be a corporate responsibility that employees are as healthy as they can be, with a well-functioning immune system, education and expertise in personal wellbeing. With a greater possibility of remote working and significant shifts in perspective, employers will treat employees as whole human beings—body, mind and spirit.
The GWI further predicts that instead of waiting for a three-year return on wellness initiatives, employers will look to current research to drive their wellness decisions. Political leaders have set the stage for this type of decision-making in dealing with COVID shut-down and reopening policies. Business leaders will follow suit and will consider research put forth by the CDC, WHO, and GWI with regard to issues like chronic stress, musculoskeletal issues of computer work, ill effects of occupational sitting, and the rise of depression and anxiety.
Healthy and Safety of Employees: Self-Care
While many business leaders encourage employees to take care of their health by providing health insurance and EAPs, the post-pandemic message of self-care will extend into the course of their work day. Employers will encourage employees to develop healthy habits while working—habits that in the past may have seemed trivial or even counter-productive will now be seen as necessary, as employee well-being and productivity will be seen as one in the same.
For example, work-from-home employees will be encouraged to counter the effects of prolonged sitting in front of a computer by taking movement breaks, wearing blue light filtered glasses for eye protection, and integrating mindful strategies—all DURING the workday. And the often elusive problem of chronic stress is predicted to come to the forefront for workplace wellness initiatives.
Health and Safety of Employees: Zoomific Tools
Wellness coordinators with remote workers have historically struggled with how to engage and integrate off-site employees into onsite programs. Coordinating all employees digitally will now be the norm. While digital wellness challenges have offered one type of seasonal solution, more live, real-time offerings that connect employees no matter where they are will surge. Platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Team will not only be used for meetings, but will serve as convenient, low-cost vehicles for real time wellness.
From scheduling virtual coffee breaks that invite light conversations among employees to streaming fitness classes, innovative employers are already stepping up and meeting the wellness needs of their newly remote teams. One Baltimore-based real estate management company (powered by FIT2order) provides live stretch breaks led by personal trainers and mini-meditations led by meditation teachers that brings together work teams while sending the message to all employees to move more and stress less, together.
A final note from FIT2order
We are on this journey with you. Our FIT2order team stands ready to support you and your team during this demanding and transitional time with content, resources and solutions for the safety and health of your employees—wherever they are.