A well-rounded approach to health and wellbeing is just as important for you, as a business leader as it is for your staff, and your business. Healthy minds and bodies are energetic and motivating. They can lift spirits, increase productivity and deliver results that positively affect your bottom line.
In fact, a 2019 German study showed that physical activity can benefit, and potentially protect, brain structure and cognition – meaning the fitter you are, the better your brain works. There’s a reason Richard Branson attributes daily exercise as his number one secret to a healthy mind, alongside a list of very practical, brain-flexing tasks.
Here are a few tips for working from home that will create a business culture that prioritises health and personal wellbeing.
Encourage your staff to exercise daily
The Australian Government recommends adults aged 18–64 get active every day of the week. Some form of daily exercise helps improve blood pressure, cholesterol, heart health, and muscle and bone strength. You should be aiming for two and a half hours per week of moderate intensity activities (such as a brisk walk, swimming and even household tasks like raking leaves), as well as 75 minutes of vigorous activity (such as aerobics, jogging and organised sports). This type of high cardiorespiratory exercise increases oxygen intake and distribution that enlarges the heart and increases circulation, which improves energy and brain functions.
Promote desk-friendly home workout activities that are easy for each team member to do at home, such as tricep dips, arm circles and wall push-ups. Offer online subscriptions to daily workouts like a yoga class your team can dial into together one day a week, or start a weekly workout routine challenge for everyone to go out for a jog on their lunch break.
We know that curious people ask questions and seek out answers, but studies have also shown that curiosity significantly boosts learning and memory over time. A key 2009 study found that subjects were more likely to recall the answers to high curiosity-inducing trivia questions two weeks after the fact than questions that didn’t induce the same levels of curiosity. And a previous study by the University of California showed that the period between establishing an interest and learning the answer sees an increase in dopamine (the pleasure chemical), proving that the wait for the answer is sometimes more rewarding than the answer itself.
Model curiosity by asking questions as often as you can, and showing staff that you don’t always know the answer. Rather than giving rules for a project’s final result, increase curiosity by giving just a few constraints and the general idea before leaving it up to the team to uncover the strategy that works best. Keep your staff mentally challenged – and more valuable to your business – by providing opportunities for your staff to explore and expand their interests.You never know what great ideas could come from some curious experimentation
A 2019 study asked professional writers and physicists to report on their most creative ideas – what they were doing when they had them, and whether they felt that proverbial lightbulb above their head. The study found that ideas that were formed when the mind was wandering off-task were more likely to help solve a problem or elicit that ‘aha’ moment. Researchers in another recent study found that practising art lowers levels of the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol. In other words, allowing yourself and your team to channel creativity can lead to innovation and positive wellbeing.
There are endless ways to be creative. It can be as simple as making your team take regular breaks from their work tasks to focus on creative opportunities, even if it’s only for half an hour a day. These creative opportunities may be work-related but they may also relate to personal hobbies or side projects. Encourage and acknowledge creativity stimulators in whatever form they take – from a simple rearranging of a home office to taking an online class on an unfamiliar, intriguing topic.
Know your energy
Eating healthy is so much more than simply googling ‘healthy recipes’ and cutting out carbs. Understanding what and how much energy your unique body needs to function is important, but finding the right balance is key. Energy is also about choosing the healthy options over the unhealthy. Grazing in the kitchen or skipping meals altogether because you’re caught up in a project may be easier than it should be when your home is your office, but your eating habits can be the difference between lethargy and vitality.
Stock up on ingredients for healthy snacks rather than the classic chips and lollies options. Without an office full of people to provide for, personal energy balance is exactly that – personal. But leading by example and suggesting ways to eat healthy is a great way to boost your own energy and inspire your staff to follow suit.
Keep it clean and simple
Less is indeed more when it comes to life and a clutter-free work space. Keep it simple by focusing on the ‘haves’, not the ‘have nots’, and embracing the freedom that comes with having gratitude for the now. Plus, comfortable, minimalist workspaces are great for motivating and promoting physical and mental wellbeing.
Do your best to keep your home office clear and neat. Assess what you actually need and invest in the latest technology and tools to help you stay connected, de-cluttered, on track and digitally secure.
Encouraging smarter and healthier work, not harder work, will improve your personal productivity and push your business to reach higher and go further – and your team will thank you for it.