In the current climate, remote working has increased exponentially, the potential of a ‘new normal’ a very real prospect for individuals, teams and organisations. That being said, we spoke to Jessie Pavelka, an internationally recognised health and wellness expert and co-founder of Pavelka Wellness, wellness partner to a range of organisations including technology giants Cisco Systems. Jessie believes a holistic approach is the answer to nurturing company culture, if as people professionals we are to create remote working wellness.
“It’s important for people professionals to understand how they can make sure change isn’t at the expense of company culture, using the current climate instead, as an opportunity to reflect and reshape how their organisation works to allow employees to thrive. Research has demonstrated how providing employees with freedom to construct their own healthy, remote working environments can aid not only employee satisfaction, but also productivity. This, however, won’t just happen and employers must pay attention to culture and exercise accountability in order to nurture health and wellness.
“Yes, ultimate responsibility is with the individual, but with the right support and resources, leaders can instigate suitable conversations and activities that highlight an all-round understanding of how each person can look after themselves, with the ability to also notice and support their team members. It’s facing up to challenges and investing in how we can overcome them. We must place health and wellness at the cultural centre of individuals, teams and organisations, focusing on beliefs, behaviours and reality. Through small changes in beliefs and behaviours we have the opportunity to create a big impact in reality, but this requires consistent support and positive reinforcement along with an openness and willingness to learn. Routines and practises help keep us connected to ourselves and one another, and we must take steps now, to build a healthier, stronger and more efficient workforce in the long-term.
“It’s without question that remote working can uncomfortably blur the lines between professional and personal life, with employees feeling unable to switch off, and reduced visibility and access to company leadership often allowing feelings of disconnect and loneliness to surface. As employers, we must take the time to implement tools and structures that evaluate wellbeing relative to these things, and that ultimately support interaction and connection.
“It starts with assessment and awareness, and by not falling into an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality, we can help provide our employees with a framework to achieve synergy, increasing engagement and at that motivation in the process. It isn’t about merely ‘fixing problems’, but achieving impact on both individual reality and organizational culture through the transformation of beliefs and behaviours.
“I like to consider this transformation by looking at four key elements, ‘Eat’, ‘Sweat’, ‘Think’ & ‘Connect’. So, for example, when we look at what employees are eating, are we involving them in that conversation from the beginning to help them make healthier food choices? There really isn’t a secret or magic bullet per se, but we need to consider wellness initiatives and programmes around not simply nutrition, but things such as inspiration and decision making, and the impact this can have on performance, energy levels and mood. That’s not to say we have to think too macro, but we do need to have a level of focus on the individual.
“This extends to the ‘Sweat’ element, and it’s not to say that a full-on exercise schedule is required, but a programme that starts with movement. Exercise and movement provide a chance to get out of our head and into our body and can happen through the day. Short breaks, stepping away from the desk, stretching, and walking outside are the small changes in behaviour that impact a big change in reality, and we must bring in experts and encourage employees to act as pioneers in the creation of internal structures that continually stimulate conversations around these topics. It can be as simple as online lunch and learns, or exercise webinars.
“Many may question where they’ll find the time to consider healthy eating and movement in an environment that has become hypersensitized, making it harder than ever to switch off, and that’s where employers must act proactively to instill programmes that support remote workers.
“The ‘Think’ and ‘Connect’ elements will help us as employers increase our accountability relative to the mental health of employees in the ‘workplace’, and by providing support, the opportunities for growth are clear to see – increased motivation, engagement and productivity to name a few.
“Alongside an inability to switch off, feelings of disconnect and loneliness are one of the biggest problems for remote workers, and that makes building rapport with our employees ever more crucial. Small interactions and touchpoints outside of simple work calls, giving us a chance to interact as humans can have a profound affect on happiness, achieving trust and loyalty in the process.
“The remote working environment without question presents challenges, but we must take the time to get to know our employees still. Whether that’s starting with 360-degree feedback and attitudinal surveys, or placing small opportunities in the calendar to just ‘catch-up’, we must provide remote workers with opportunities to meet up and share experiences, concerns and successes, to reduce stress and isolation. By simply connecting, we will broaden our daily experiences too, which can only be good for stimulating creativity, and growth, on many levels.”
To find out more, download the Pavelka Wellness Remote Working Wellness Guide, here.