Updated: Nov 22, 2021
I'm writing this from home.
I don't need much Occupational Health knowledge to know my desk (dining table) is the wrong height, the lighting's poor, chair is not supportive (style over substance people - I'm at home after all) and I'm staring at a handy-sized but not ideal for proper work laptop (about 18 inches too low).
Ok, these are all risks which I could address, on a budget if need be. But that's not really the point. These small new hurdles and risks are just the obvious things that could be challenging when working from home.
If you've been used to working in a communal set up for years (decades for many) and have been bound to your dining table since March you may have noticed other things don't sit brilliantly (not just you.. get it?)
Lack of colleagues. Casual office chit-chat. Time away from home. Chance to read the paper (iPad) on the commute. Weekly game of football/drinks with the girls. You get the picture.
Back in March 2020 (Lockdown 1) many of us thought this was a short-term set up. Something we did while major health threats were managed and until vaccines were organised. For many this is true and over coming months some form of normality may return. For many more the whole dining room table thing may well become the new-look landscape.
Employees will no doubt understand that over the coming months their companies will be battling to regain their commercial standing or, for some, sheer survival. Unfortunately, in some instances employee health and wellbeing may be a little lower on the agenda than we'd like.
However, might I suggest there are not just new risks and challenges for employers when it comes to keeping our people healthy and well, but massive opportunities too? Do not under-estimate the huge value to overall wellbeing that working from home might now facilitate.
There's a huge difference between going to the faceless chain gym on the corner, and the local community club. There's massive value in being able to nip out for a run at 11am at the end of a very productive few hours, and not feel guilty that's it's not actually a lunch-break. There's so much good stuff in being able to see the children off to school in the morning or - wait for it - pick them up at 3.15pm!!
Will your employees work from 9am-5.30pm with the standard, contracted rest-breaks? No. Will they even work the contracted hours that week? Probably not. Might you call them for a report update and find them panting while they do battle with the cross-trainer at 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon? Maybe.
But... will they want to work for you? Yep. Will they be loyal? Big time. Will they produce more work, to a higher standard? Most likely. Will they take less time off, be healthier (mentally as well as physically) and generally be brilliant employees (not saying they weren't before by the way...)? You know the answer.
Yes, there is a new-look landscape. Embrace it, use it. It's a massive opportunity to take your team on a journey to better health. A better work-life balance. And you'll be amazed what people can do when they love the company they work for.
A social fitness App start-up which motivates you to exercise more. Create teams with friends, family and workmates. Exercise where, when and how you like, log points and create your new, active lifestyle.