There’s a reason people say that health is wealth. Poor health impacts your lifestyle, workplace performance and overall productivity. Working remotely is the new normal, but it has also led to employees prioritizing work and its related updates and calls over their personal wellbeing and health. With work and personal calendars fusing into one, it’s important that employers encourage teams to take part in virtual wellness activities.
Virtual wellness activities give everyone on the team shared goals to lead healthier lives. It lets you do something productive when on a break from work while creating an opportunity to connect with your colleagues.
I’ve put together a few virtual wellness activities and practices that we’ve tried over the past few months.
1. What are Virtual Wellness Activities?
Virtual wellness activities are a combination of all the programs, ideas, and initiatives that assist remote teams in staying healthy. One or several of the following components differentiate virtual wellness activities from collocated activities;
1.1 Pre-recorded Training or Instructional Videos
These videos can be sent to individual employees via emails or run via a video conferencing platform. They can be lectures on work-life balance tips, motivational speeches, or skill training, to name a few.
1.2 Virtual Team Building Activities
Virtual team building activities form an important part of the virtual activities for wellbeing at home. They bring your remote teams together and help them work towards reaching common health goals.
1.3 Wellness Sessions
These are mostly live sessions that experts take on various life topics. The topics can vary and include meditation, yoga, nutrition and more.
1.4 Wellness Tracking
Wellness tracking includes virtual wellness programs that involve tracking the health status of individual employees. It includes using an app or smart device to track things like daily steps, weight, BMI, and others. Health tracking activities are often health challenges where resources are motivated to accept to stay fit and get rewards too.
2. Importance of Virtual Wellness Activities
McKinsey estimates the global wellness market to be above $1.5 trillion, with annual growth of 5 to 10 percent. This figure underscores the rising awareness about staying healthy across the globe. Especially for remote workers, virtual wellness activities for employees are a great way to keep them fit.
Virtual wellness activities help employees navigate tough times and fight their emotional toll – especially in these pandemic times. They also counter the ill effects of social isolation and loneliness on the body and mind. Besides, they play a great role in team building, enhance collaboration between remote employees and establish stronger relations. Teammates can use these activities to improve their social bonding with one another. These activities improve their focus and productivity.
3. Best Virtual Wellness Activities 2021
3.1 Home Office Makeover
While working from home is flexible, it also comes at the cost of distractions – the sounds of the mixer in the kitchen, drilling or hammering next door, or even your uneasy chair – these end up impacting your concentration levels and lowering your productivity which reflects in the output, causing you to feel stressed and irritated. A home office makeover program can help your employees in this situation.
In this program, you cover the expenses for the ergonomic comforts your employees will require at home – such as office chairs with neck and lumbar support, screen guards, noise-cancelling equipment (such as headphones or desktop apps like Krisp.ai), standing desks, or laptop stands. Either set a budget and reimburse the purchase bills, or gather individual requirements via email or an internal survey link and place the orders accordingly.
A home-office makeover is one of the most liked virtual wellness activities and your employees will definitely appreciate the gesture!
3.2 Host Virtual Tea Parties, Lunch and Learns
Virtual tea parties with Lunch and Learns are one of the best and most common virtual wellness activities which provide virtual staff an in-person interaction experience and also learn something fun!
For the sessions, you could either select industry-specific topics based on the staff’s preferences or their current training needs, or general life themes like retirement planning, income tax filing, investment planning and more, for which you can either hire speakers or pick an in-house expert.
Last week, we held a virtual lunch and learn session on the benefits of learning a second language and the staff members were so inspired that by the end of the session, they had already picked the non-English language they wanted to learn and all were looking forward to more sessions down the line!
3.3 Clean Desk Challenge
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that a tidy workspace helps maintain focus and attention, in addition to keeping your mood fresh and calm. So, a clean desk challenge is among the easiest virtual wellness activities that you can launch.
Encourage your virtual staff to clean their at-home offices and ask for photos and videos of their desk on WhatsApp or other channels, which will motivate your team to stick to a cleaning routine. You can even incentivize the winners of the challenge with prizes and honorable mentions for those who were consistent in maintaining their workspace for the entire duration of the challenge.
We tested this ourselves about a month back and had great fun cleaning our desks. What added to the thrill was that nobody knew who would be asked to upload a photo or video next. So, we had to stay “alert” all the time which was both fun and exciting!
3.4 Online Group Workouts
A healthy mind rests in a healthy body. While a desk job is already sedentary, working from home adds insult to the injury as movement is reduced even further. Hence is the growing popularity of online group workouts among employees, with many competing in virtual health challenges!
You can hold online group workout sessions at regular intervals for your remote staff with a fitness instructor to lead these sessions. Set a recurring schedule in your Google Calendar and send invites to the employees, who can then join with their videos on and work out together.
Following our company town hall meeting in May, it was decided that we’d offer Yoga and daily stretching classes for whoever was interested. And nearly 90% of the staff signed up, indicating how much everyone had been waiting for something like this to happen.
I can confidently say group workouts work wonders as virtual wellness activities because everyone is in it together, creating a communal experience!
3.5 Play Coffee Roulette
Coffee is a universally loved beverage and you can use this love to strengthen your employees’ friendships. Coffee Roulette is among the most preferred virtual team building activities during quarantine and working-from-home, where employees randomly pair up for a virtual coffee break to get much-needed mental relaxation.
You can sign up with Coffee Roulette, choose the frequency of coffee meetings, add all employees’ email addresses and set the start date there. The employees will receive an email invite to accept and enter the days they’re available. Based on the same, it will pair up employees and send invites with details of their next “coffee partners”.
I personally like it because it actually helped me get reacquainted with members of the team I wasn’t regularly in touch with. What’s more, it introduced me to new employees from departments who’d joined our company after the COVID breakout. Over the past one year, I have gotten to know them well, thanks to coffee roulette parties!
3.6 Work-Life-Balance Sessions and Workshops
Remote employees find it tricky to draw a line between work and personal life at times and they end up getting overworked on some days and underworked and distracted on others. This is where work-life balance workshops come in handy as virtual wellness ideas for your staff.
These sessions help self-regulate and strike a better balance between their personal and professional life. You can hire motivational speakers and organize an online seminar, or you can also conduct group discussions on challenges faced, time management tips, importance of work-life balance and more for all attendees to benefit from each other.
I personally like these discussions and seminars as they offer diverse perspectives that enable us to broaden our knowledge areas, and we have them once or twice a month.
3.7 Virtual Escape Room Games
Virtual team escape rooms are one of the best virtual wellness games out there. It is an online game where one can participate via any supported video conferencing platform. Remote employees are divided into teams with a goal to escape a room against a ticking clock – for which they need to solve riddles, puzzles, and unearth hidden clues to escape successfully.
Some good virtual team escape room games are Black Noir, International Monster Hunter, Roobiks, Confundrum, etc. These help in honing your skills which pertain to reasoning, focus, attention, and increase your productivity.
We’ve made it a practice to play a virtual team escape room game once a month, and it has resulted in a positive team building experience and a fun time with each other!
3.8 Virtual Happy Hours
When it comes to virtual team building activities during quarantine, one mustn’t miss Virtual Happy Hours. It helps the remote staff feel mentally relaxed and motivated to work more efficiently, in addition to a fun employee bonding session.
The ideas for virtual happy hours can be mutually decided – it can be casual conversations on sport events, favourite movies, their lunch meal for the day, go-to songs, etc. whilst sipping your favourite drink or beverage. These sessions are best experienced with a video conferencing platform.
We make it a point to bond with our remote resources and arrange virtual happy hours on a regular basis, where everyone shares what they’ve been up to or just jokes around casually and I always leave the meeting feeling better. Virtual happy hours is a must on your list of virtual employee wellness program ideas!
3.9 Digital Step Challenges
Working from home saves you those long commutes, at the same time limiting your movement in general and it is important to be mindful of how often you walk to avoid staying sedentary. Issuing a Digital Steps Challenge can be one of the virtual wellness activities to tackle this problem.
For this challenge, decide a daily goal you want your employees to achieve – say 7000 steps. Most smartphones or fitness wristbands come with built-in step-trackers or pedometers to track daily steps. Those who achieve or even exceed the daily minimum target earn their spot on the leaderboard and every fortnight or a week, the first two employees with the highest steps can be awarded an Amazon gift card or healthy meal subscription for one month. This will not only keep your teams healthy but also motivate them to increase their steps!
3.10 Nutritionist Consultations
A healthy diet is a buzzword today with the realization that an unhealthy diet combined with a sedentary lifestyle is dangerous in all ways. In light of this growing concern, several companies are offering nutritionist consultation sessions as a virtual wellness activity for their remote teams.
This is highly recommended for employees with comorbidities or serious chronic illnesses. You can take it up a notch by hiring a medical specialist besides a regular nutritionist. Taking nutrition tips, clearing doubts and planning your daily meals from a professional can help your remote staff manage their diet well.
3.11 Health Cooking Club
Gourmets and epicureans will love a healthy cooking club beyond anything. Starting a healthy cooking club can be one of the best virtual employee wellness activities to encourage your remote employees to eat nutritious and balanced meals while working from home to stay fit. You can motivate them to exchange healthy recipes they can cook and also upload snaps of dishes they cook for community engagement. You can also schedule real-time virtual cooking sessions where employees can watch each other cooking and have fun!
We started this activity last year in May, and to our surprise, there were many hidden ‘chefs’ in our team! A couple of us who hardly step into the kitchen have become good cooks now. So, we strongly suggest giving it a spot on your list of virtual wellness activities.
3.12 Start a Virtual Writers’ Club
Some employees who like writing stories, articles, poems, or skits might hold back because of a lack of inspiration, motivation, and appreciation for their work. By starting a virtual writers’ club, you can give these budding artists the right platform to nurture their talent.
Create a separate channel on your communications platform with these employees who can share their work and give feedback on each other’s writings, get writing tips, learn poem analyses and more. This will enhance their creativity, keep their minds refreshed and give them something to look forward to in the next discussion. In fact, encourage everyone to try their hand at writing and who knows, the next Arundhati Roy emerges from your own team!
Being a lover of poetry, I was thrilled to learn about the Writers’ Club’s launch. We started from 10 writers in our group and in just 5 months, the number grew to 50! I cannot recommend it enough for your next virtual wellness activity!
3.13 Celebrate Work Events and Special Occasions
Birthdays, work anniversaries or achievements create cherishable memories for life, and throwing a virtual event to commemorate these special occasions is one of the best virtual wellness program ideas.
The team can gather online via a video conferencing platform and celebrate the staff’s birthdays, work anniversaries, or achievements like hitting milestones and team goals, which will make them feel special – you can also send them cakes, chocolates, or cards as a surprise to add to the fun and do a virtual cake-cutting ceremony. This will make them feel valued and motivated. Take a screenshot with everyone’s video on and add it to the company’s photo album!
3.14 Online Meditation Sessions
Mental strength must be given equal importance as much as our physical strength, and online meditation sessions are the way to do so as a part of virtual wellness activities. You can launch weekly or fortnightly online meditation sessions with an instructor for your virtual staff, and encourage them to participate. You could also start workout sessions on the side to enjoy the best of both worlds!
Seven months ago, we added meditation sessions to our list of virtual wellness activities. Within 4 months, we grew from 15 to 40 and are still increasing. After the sessions, we feel highly relaxed and focused. Try it for your team today!
3.15 Virtual Wellness Emails and Inspirational Quotes
An inspirational quote can have a huge impact on you – it fills you with positivity and drives you at work and thus, it is a good virtual wellness activity for your remote teams.
Virtual wellness emails can be sent to employees that could cover topics. Some suggestions include tips to avoid procrastination, the importance of mental health while working from home, the right posture for work, or pointers for a good work-life balance. These could also act as reminders for the employees to drink water, walk for a bit, and not to overwork themselves.
You can include inspirational quotes on your employee portal at the beginning of the day. Encourage employees to suggest quotes and sayings that they find motivating. This can make a big difference and help keep the mind and body healthy. Begin the activity for your team too!
3.16 Online Games and Activities
A great way to get remote teams to participate and bond with each other is through online games or quizzes using engagement platforms that award points to employees if they win and can then be accrued under their profiles to use at a later point to buy what they prefer. The current crop of dynamic employee engagement software typically has built-in modules with employee databases, communication channels and built-in engagement initiatives that can be used to foster a positive and healthy workforce. Sorry, I was on Mute offers one such integrated platform that can be used to acknowledge and reward excellent work or contributions at an individual or team level across your organization. Make accurate data-driven decisions based on the in-depth reports and analytical information that this software provides to create customized rewards and recognitions. You can then take it one step further and align these with your company mission and value system to create a dynamic performance recognition center.
4.1 How do you create a virtual wellness program?
Following are the steps to create a virtual wellness program for your virtual staff:
- Send Surveys- Send a survey or email asking your virtual employees for ideas for the virtual wellness activities and garner the responses. Ensure it is equally fun and meaningful to do with your employees and they have a great time.
- Set a Budget- Once the responses are in, establish a budget accordingly and plan the activity with the necessary requirements.
- Create a channel – Create a seperate channel for the remote teams on your communications platform.
- Choose a conferencing platform – Select a video conferencing platform with the appropriate pricing plan for the employees to collaborate. Send the meeting links in advance for a pre-decided time and day for the activity.
- Include an instructor – Arrange for the specialist or instructor according to your activity well in advance. Encourage more enrollment from resources by announcing rewards, gifts, etc.
4.2 How do you host a virtual wellness event?
To host a virtual wellness event for your remote employees, here are the steps you can follow:
- Choose a conferencing platform – Select a compatible video conferencing platform that suits your team size and has the functionalities you need. Some popular platforms are Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, etc.
- Schedule the session – Schedule the virtual wellness sessions in advance, after checking the availability of all employees.
- Pick an activity – Choose a fun activity which would boost team building and strengthen employee bonding, in addition to making it a learning session.
- Hire an instructor – For activities that would require hiring a professional, prepare in advance and ensure the dates and timings are set according to everyone’s convenience.
- Set your calendar – Set recurring calendar reminders for regular virtual wellness activities. For those activities that are not frequent, create an invite with the video meeting link and send it to participants.
- Include rewards – Include optional emailable rewards to encourage participation – such as Amazon gift cards, meal vouchers, online subscriptions, etc.
4.3 How can you improve wellness working from home?
Some of the best practices to stay healthy and improve wellness while working from home:
- Eat healthy – Eat a healthy and nutritious diet. Cut down on junk and unhealthy food items.
- Stay hydrated – Keep yourself hydrated throughout the day.
- Meditate – Take some time out of your busy working day for workouts, yoga, or meditation. Even 15 minutes of daily walk or exercises can help you stay in shape and ward off health conditions.
- Home office makeover – Set up your home office for more comfort and the right posture. If possible, give a makeover to the room you’ve fixed for your work to suit your work environment.
- Work-life balance – Maintain a healthy work-life balance. Keep away things like mobiles or newspapers that may distract you during work hours. Devote your working hours fully to your work and enjoy the rest of the time with family, friends, and your personal likings.
- Connect with colleagues – Establish strong connections with your remote colleagues. It is essential to be friendly and socialize well with remote employees and colleagues. It helps you know one another better and build more rapport.
- Stick to the routine – Set a daily routine and stick to it to wade off that feeling of purposelessness and depression.