Importance of virtual wellness activities for remote employees
With the rise of hybrid working, as a result of technological advances and accelerated by the pandemic, more and more companies have remote employees. Remote workers might be in different geographical locations, different time zones, or have responsibilities that mean that they can’t come into the office. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be a key consideration in workplace wellness programs and the mental health and physical health support you offer to employees.
Studies show that often remote workers end up working longer hours, as they do not have a clear break between work and home. It’s very easy to keep tapping away at work in the evening. This can impact both mental and physical health and result in stress and burnout. But you can encourage your remote employees to have a healthy work life balance through your virtual employee wellness programs. As well as help them build healthy habits, it’s a good way to boost the employee engagement of a remote team.
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11 virtual wellness activities and ideas for remote employees
1. Mental health workshops and webinars
Educate your employees as to the importance of mental health through workshops and webinars that offer tangible tips and support to look after their personal wellbeing. Through virtual events run by mental health experts you can create an online workplace wellness program that is part of the overall wellness strategy. As part of our employer offering, Wysa offers virtual interactive mental health webinars that engage, educate and help employees who may be facing challenges, worried about a colleague, or just want ideas for their own wellness, and these can be delivered both to remote workers and office based workers.
2. Online group working hours
Organise hours where there is cross over in time zones and schedule and have some online group working hours. Using the pomodoro technique people can work in sprints, doing focused work for a period of time, followed by shorter breaks where they can chat and connect, just like they would in the office. Just set up a group video call which can mimic an office setting due to the fact that everyone is there, together. It can be isolating being alone, so this is a good way to remind employees that just because they are working remotely they are not alone.
3. Therapy and/or coaching sessions
Therapy and coaching are an essential part of virtual wellness programs. Often it can be challenging working remotely, feeling like there are fewer places to chat and offload, which can harm mental wellbeing. Through structured and stepped scaleable care with Wysa, employees can access coaches at a time that is convenient to them, when they need some extra support. Encourage remote employees to check in with Wysa’s chatbot not only when things are hard, but on the good days, so they can see their progress as well.
4. Virtual social events
Heard of virtual happy hours? Switching off and relaxing is key to a good work life balance, and so fun should be a key part of a virtual wellness program. Once a week or month, make sure that everyone, even a remote employee in your team, finishes at 5pm (or your company’s normal work hours) on a Friday and pours themself their favourite soft or alcoholic drink, and connect with their team. If it’s easier, you could have an online lunch, which can also help encourage a healthy diet as people will be able to focus on making something they like and that is good for them, rather than grazing from the fridge. Let them chat about their personal lives rather than work, and encourage them to focus on having fun.
5. Group meditations
Meditation is one of the things that so many of us know we should do, but don’t make time for. Starting the working day with group meditations may not seem like an idea for virtual team building activities, given that people don’t talk to each other on it, but can be a good way to connect the team. Use one of Wysa’ many meditations and mindfulness exercises to bring a remote team together – even whilst they are silent. It will also really help with focus, which can be hard when working from home. Wysa also offers anonymous meditation sessions designed for employers to use with remote employees.
6. Virtual fitness challenges
Many people find that they live a more sedentary lifestyle working remotely. Why not get your remote employees moving more through a virtual fitness challenge? Maybe set up a leader board and see who can walk the most steps in a day, challenge everyone to do 20 squats on the hour every hour, or do a sponsored 5k run and see who is back at their desk first. It’s a great way to boost fitness and have fun.
You could also do online group workouts, where everyone watches the same YouTube video, or bring in an aerobics teacher to run some virtual wellness sessions. It’s best not to choose something that needs too much wellness equipment, as this can make it less accessible. Exercise is great for physical and mental health, and can also help reduce stress.
7. Virtual yoga classes
Another way to improve remote employee wellness is through virtual yoga sessions. Slumped over our desk 8 or more hours a day can cause our posture to decline and hurt our body. Yoga is great for addressing this, as well as being a mindful practice that can help destress employees.
Many organisations have yoga sessions as part of their employee wellness program – but it can also be one of the wellness activities you offer to remote employees too. Hopefully they will like it enough to practise on their own at home, using Wysa’s yoga tools in the app.
8. Encourage online journaling
The best thing about journaling is that it is a safe space to offload. Whether employees wish to talk about their personal life or professional life, the very act of getting things down on paper or screen has been shown to be brilliant for personal wellbeing. James Pennebaker’s research shows journaling to help with both physical and mental health, reducing everything from stress to inflammation, and all in between. Wysa allows someone to journal wherever and whenever, through the app.
9. Offer self-help tips and resources
One of the great things about using Wysa for employees health is that it is always available, day and night. Featuring self-help tips and resources for everything from sleep to relationships, anxiety to stress, it’s packed with activities that can be done whenever someone wants, and wherever they are, which makes it great for someone who tends to do remote work or even has to travel a lot.
10. Launch a buddy program
Online buddy programs where people check in with each other on a regular basis and are able to support one another are a great way to improve employee wellbeing. Buddies might offer to read over work and be an extra pair of eyes, or offer a different perspective on a tricky problem. This kind of relationship is common in an office working environment, but can be harder for remote working, and so may have to be more formalised. But once it works, it’s great, and can also really help employee morale as it helps create relationships that can be supportive and helpful.
11. Online employee resource groups
Employee resource groups are voluntary, employee-led initiatives where group members come together to raise awareness and provide solutions around an issue – such as health or wellbeing. And they should be something that remote employees can participate in as well as those based together physically. In fact by doing so you will increase mental diversity. By engaging individuals with the issues that matter to them, you can motivate employees and increase employee satisfaction, as they will feel that they have a purpose that goes beyond the day to day task and be more engaged in what they do. And they may come up with more ideas for improving wellness, which can be rolled out around the entire company.
Virtual wellness activities are a great way to engage and inspire your team, build employee morale, and help keep your teams happy and healthy – no matter where they are located. Employee health matters, regardless of location, time zone or life commitments and responsibilities, and by using some of these ideas your organisation can encourage healthy habits and offer support to remote team members.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto
Photo by Anna Shvets