February 25th, 2021 by Louise Cunnah
With the vaccination rollout currently in full swing throughout the UK and plenty of buzz being generated about how Wales might exit lockdown once and for all, many of us are hopeful that our employees will soon be able to return to the office in the near future – in some capacity, at least. Although there is still some time to go, preparing early will ensure that nothing gets missed when it comes to creating a safe and healthy workplace.
Obviously, your first priority before your employees return to the office should be checking that it is compliant with any new COVID-19 measures that are in place during that time. However, you should also be actively taking other steps to encourage your workplace to be more healthy. This isn’t just in terms of your team members’ physical health, but their mental well-being too.
In fact, even if you and your employees haven’t been directly affected by the virus, it’s likely that the pandemic has still affected your mental and physical health. With gyms and leisure centres being closed for much of the past year, many of us are exercising less – and although people in Wales are allowed to leave the house for exercise in lockdown, motivation to do so remains low for many of us.
In fact, there is plenty of evidence to demonstrate the negative effect the pandemic is having on the mental health of many people, with one study in the UK concluding that between spring 2018 and spring 2020, rates of mental distress in the general population increased from 18.8% to 27.3%.
So, what steps can you take to encourage a healthy workplace not just in lockdown, but when your staff have returned to the office for good?
Promote healthy eating
A shared fruit bowl might be out of the window right now (especially if your team is still working remotely), but that doesn’t mean that you still can’t encourage them to swap the biscuits with a healthier alternative! There are a number of services you can use to get healthy snack boxes sent directly to your employees while they work from home. This is sure to be appreciated by staff who will feel valued and as though their company has gone the extra mile to look after their general health and well-being.
Encourage workers to stand more
Whether people are working from home or in the office, it’s not uncommon for many to feel guilty for stepping away from their desk too often during the working day. Despite this, health experts have stressed for many years that you shouldn’t remain seated for too long (as a matter of fact, the maximum amount of time should be a period of 30 minutes). With this in mind, you should be educating your workforce on the importance of stretching their legs, making it clear that they should be taking regular breaks throughout the working day to do so – even if this is only to walk to the kettle and back!
Get your workforce exercising!
Although this tip may be difficult to put into practice currently, offering discounted (or even free) gym memberships to your employees won’t just help them to feel appreciated, but because you have contributed towards their membership, they will be more inclined to visit the gym and get active. However, if this just isn’t feasible for your business right now, another great option is to allocate a set amount of time (such as one afternoon each month) for workers to focus on their fitness. This could be used to go for a solo walk, run or bike ride, or even to exercise with others on their team (if this is permitted by social distancing rules, of course)!
Check-in with employees regularly
Isolation and plans being cancelled due to the pandemic aren’t the only things that can have a negative effect on the mental health of your workers. Factors such as unmanageable workloads, unrealistic deadlines and feeling as though they don’t have a great relationship with those they work with can all lead to stress – and ultimately, burnout – which isn’t great for anyone’s health. Particularly during this difficult time, managers should be arranging regular one on one meetings with their team members to check how they’re feeling and whether they need any additional help and support. This can be done in person or a video call, depending on what the COVID-19 guidelines are at that time.
Offer ‘mental health days’
If someone on your team wasn’t able to focus on their work due to feeling physically unwell, you wouldn’t ask them to work regardless – so why shouldn’t the same rule apply when it comes to how they feel mentally? After all, sometimes, we simply can’t face the day – and that’s perfectly okay. This is why more and more organizations are now allocating a certain number of days (which are completely separate from their regular annual leave allowances) for their staff to take the day off and focus on themselves when needed. If possible, this is something your company should be offering too.
Looking to relocate for your team’s return to the office?
Choosing the right working environment can have a substantial effect on your employees’ health and well-being, making them happier and more productive. So, before they make their formal return to the office (whether full-time or part-time), could now be the perfect time to relocate to a new office that your team will love spending their time in?
If you’re looking for a new office in South Wales, Tec Marina (located near the beautiful Penarth Marina) is designed to inspire creativity and well-being. As well as having a free onsite gym for all residents to use, secured bike storage, colourful kitchens with all the free tea and coffee you could want, and a bright, open atrium with plenty of room to relax and hold meetings, our offices are fully serviced and furnished with everything you need. We have also taken all the necessary steps required to keep our residents and visitors safe from COVID-19, such as making it easy to adhere to social distancing guidelines, putting up screens between the seating in our atrium and installing automatic hand sanitising stations throughout the building.
Want to find out more about Tec Marina or book a viewing with a member of our team? Give us a call on 02921 678391 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.