How to Include Remote Workers in Your Workplace Wellness Program

As digital technologies continue to redefine work, it’s important you adapt to these changes. The influx of remote workers presents some interesting challenges for trying to keep engagement high in your workplace wellness program.

We must never forget that remote workers are an integral part of the team, and they can’t forget it either. Promoting wellness is one way to make this happen. Yet with remote workers, we need to rethink how we plan and implement workplace wellness plans. Many companies are now including benefits such as locker rooms for those who commute by bike, healthy office snacks, on-site gyms, yoga classes, health-related resources, etc. And this is great news. But to make sure these efforts have the right effect on morale, everyone needs to be included.

Here are some tips to help you plan an office wellness challenge that makes sure to include remote workers.

Make it a Company Priority

Somewhat surprisingly, remote workers tend to be more engaged than in-office employees. And as you know, messages you send are received a little more clearly when workers are tuned in. So, to include remote workers in your wellness program, make sure to talk the talk and walk the walk.

If your wellness program is overly office-centric, or if you don’t spend enough time talking about it and promoting it, remote workers are going to put the program off to the side. Anything you do with it from that moment will seem like something separate from them.

Go out of your way to interact with remote workers about what they’re doing. Highlight some of their actions and follow through with any suggestions they may have. The more relevant you make the program, the better buy-in you’ll get from your telecommuters. And this starts with you and your commitment to the program as a whole.

Use an Adaptable Strategy

Remote workers need to equally benefit from the program for them to feel included. For example, if you build an onsite gym, you may want to offer remote workers a free membership to a local health center.cIf you want the program to be taken seriously by everyone, you can’t design it to be only for some. Doing so will leave those on the outside with nothing to do but tune out.

However, the web makes things much easier. If you use Slack (and if you don’t, think about it!), consider creating a wellness channel where you ask people to share things that make them feel well. Not work related, but something more personal. It could be a meal, or simply a nice thought. This is a fun way to inject of wellness-focused attitude into both the physical and digital workspaces.

Competitions can also be fun, but be careful with these as sometimes they can push people away. If you manage them properly, they can be a fun way to bring people together around a common goal.

Take a Bottom-Up Approach

When it comes to extra activities at work, people buy in more when they feel a part of them. No one wants to be told what to do. And since this can happen sometimes at work, you won’t get a commitment from people when something feels like an obligation.

One of the best ways to combat this is to make designing the wellness program a real democratic process. Bring in employees from the beginning to understand some of the challenges they face in attaining workplace wellness; this will help you create something really useful for everyone.

Instead of installing programs, consider freeing up a budget and allowing employees to figure out how to spend it. With buy-in from everyone, the program is sure to be much more of a success. And you’ll feel the impact of this as happiness and health improve productivity.

Be Flexible

It’s no secret an office can be a stressful place. And stress is terrible for us. It can cause all sorts of long-term conditions, not to mention what it does to you in the moment. Workplace wellness programs should always have the objective of eliminating stress. When you feel more comfortable in your place of work, it feels less like work, and you actually can get more done.

The prime advantage of working remotely is the flexibility it provides. If you want to wake up a bit later, or if you need to step out to run some errands, that’s fine. As long as the work is done on-time, it doesn’t really matter.

Making sure wellness programs resonate with remote workers requires you to respect this flexibility at all times. Give advance notice about meetings or other things your employees might need to plan for. And try to be hands-off. Make yourself available to answer questions, and be approachable, but beyond that, trust people to do the work.

Inclusion Starts from Day One

If your workplace wellness program doesn’t work for everyone, it doesn’t work. There will obviously always be some differences between working remotely and in the office. But it’s important to make sure these differences don’t create tension or derail larger organizational goals. By taking these tips into account, it should be easier to create an inclusive and more effective workplace wellness program.

About our guest author: Raj is the founder of JavaPresse, a specialty coffee service with an entirely remote workforce. One of the founding principles of the business is well-being and gratitude, and so he writes frequently about his experiences to help these become bigger priorities in today’s business world.

Interested in writing a guest post for the FluidStance blog? Email us at [email protected].