Increasingly, there has been an emphasis on employee health and wellness. It's even more important for entrepreneurs, who typically spend more than the average eight hours a day in workspaces.
Jamie Russo, chief of work and wellness at Enerspace -- a co-working space in Palo Alto, Calif., and Chicago – knows the importance of incorporating healthy initiatives into the workplace on a dime. While we’d all love to have a five-star fitness facility and on-site massages built into our work environments, Russo says most initiatives that promote employee health and well-being can be achieved with little or no money. She says wellness needs to be built into a company’s culture and incorporated into workspace organization.
“Entrepreneurs especially don’t have time to think about those things for themselves, but if they’re built in [to the work environment] it makes it easier to be well throughout the day,” says Russo.
Get moving. Diversifying posture throughout the day offsets some of the damage of sitting. Swapping desk chairs for buoys that promote movement and core strength, spending a portion of the workday at a height-adjusted standing desk, encouraging everyone to get up and walk while on conference calls or host walking meetings rather than booking the conference room are great ways to promote movement within the workspace. Russo uses her Fitbit pedometer daily to remind her to move around during the day and suggests offices host a step challenge to promote activity.
Become pet-friendly. Not only do pets encourage stress reduction, they provide an excuse to get active. “Pets will force you to take a walk because they need business breaks during the day,” says Russo, who takes her Mini Golden Doodle, Miles, to work with her. “When he’s with me, I get mental breaks from people saying hello to Miles and physical breaks from taking him out for exercise,” she says.
Design your office with mental and physical health in mind. When choosing co-working spaces, Russo looks for buildings with lots of natural light and is careful during the design of the space not to build office walls that will block light from the rest of the office. Incorporating plants into the workplace is also important to improving health. “Plants cleanse the air and help freshen the mind, reducing headaches and fatigue,” says Russo.
Keep the dress code business casual. “It’s harder for people to bike to work or take a walk outdoors during lunch in heels or a suit and tie,” says Russo. Letting people know they can work as casually as they want on days when they’re not client-facing helps to promote a culture that encourages movement.
Keep the kitchen junk-food free. Agree to not use the break room as a dumping ground for Halloween and Christmas candy. Opt for healthy choices at lunch meetings rather than pizza and soda and re-think how you celebrate birthdays and company milestones, opting for fruit and cheese platters instead of cake, for example. “People are more likely to be healthy with their food when it’s a community-based thing,” says Russo.
Encourage staff to share wellness goals. In one of Russo’s co-working spaces, a white board in a well-traveled area encourages people to scribble their wellness goals. “Announcing them to co-workers adds a level of accountability,” she says.