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By John Brady, GreaterSport | 28 October 2021 | TAGS: Active Workplaces, GreaterSport, Case studies, John Brady

As GreaterSport aim to raise awareness of the importance of physical activity during the working day their strategic lead for active adults and workplace lead John Brady has shared what they are doing to support the team to move more each day.  

The last 18 months have been tough for everyone with the move to working from home, hybrid working and furlough. In some cases this has had an impact on our mental health and wellbeing as well as the impact on our bodies for those who were told to work from home and therefore our work stations became makeshift set ups wherever we could find space.  

Being active through our working days has been even more important than ever, so taking a break every 30 minutes or so to stretch and walk around the house has helped to diminish the impact of these circumstances.  

There are many ways to move more at work. At GreaterSport we encourage the team to work flexibly, to get outside during day light, to leave their desk for a walk, to make sure they leave their computer for a break.  

We also give staff 45 minutes of paid time to be active during the working week. Our team have recently been sharing what has worked for them and how they have been using their 45 minutes a week to take a break and get moving. Some activities include a weekly personal training session, boxing, flexibility to get to the gym before work and walks around the local area. 

Louise Robbins our Strategic Lead for GM Walking as recently been undertaking building work at her house which adds to a difficult work environment, she says “I've been escaping my ‘buildemic by walking locally. Sometimes it's a brisk walk to energise. At other times it's a leisurely walk around the park to people watch, notice the children playing and the dog walkers chatting and give my mind and eyes a rest.” Louise goes on to say why doing this is important to her and how its feels “working and getting some exercise done feels like I'm winning at life! And on those days when I need to get out for a break, a walk round the park helps stave off fatigue, clear the fuzziness of a tired mind ready for the next thing, or put into perspective any stresses.” 

Jane Gardiner typifies many parents on the school run with her activity levels “I've been using it recently to walk my son to school. However he rides his bike, but not very proficiently, so it’s more of a bent over jog trying to anticipate any crashes. I then do my weights on the way home, as I have to then carry said bike back home, which by the way is an absolute ton. I now see why they didn't include the bike weight, when they were selling it on Facebook” as we say ThatCounts! Hayley Lever our CEO says about this experience “I love this example as not only is Jane getting some interesting exercise, she is getting to take her little boy to school and making sure as an organisation we get a good work-life balance is also important to us as this helps with overall wellbeing”  

Along with using our 45 minutes and using activity to take a break we also encourage our colleagues to be active while working. This could be that we get on the move for meetings on the phone, we plug our earphones in and go for walks while on phone call meetings. When we are back in the office, we have several adjustable desks that allow us to stand while working. Standing desks are becoming more and more popular and you may have seen this while on teams and zoom calls over the last 18 months. At GreaterSport our standing desks are always well used and if you don’t get in quick enough you might miss out.  

One thing I tried pre-pandemic was in the opening housekeeping address to meetings and workshops; with all the normal stuff about fire drills, toilets etc I added that it was ok to stand, move and stretch during the session and that this wouldn’t be taken as rude of that person not listening. It isn’t easy though for people to make the change and for that to feel normal, so I will keep plugging away and as more of us become active workplaces it will start to feel normal. We are also now in the process of writing our first Active Workplace Plan which will sit within our health and wellbeing plan and mental health policy. It will include tips on how to be active and what counts along with things that we can all do to encourage others in the team to move more as well. Being active has huge impacts on health and wellbeing and is often an overlooked part in addressing colleague wellbeing. Hayley adds “creating the conditions for our team to work flexibly in the new blended work environment is important and helps in getting the best of all worlds for their productivity, creativity, their physical and mental wellbeing, family life, and the environment.”

An important part of introducing moving into the workplace is buy in from leadership and management. At GreaterSport we are lucky to have Hayley who has given us all permission to look after ourselves and be active. She says “Being active reduces stress. Going outside in daylight, connecting, and noticing nature improves our mood. All of this improves wellbeing and productivity. It reduces absenteeism. In the long run, it saves us money, as employers. We need to lead culture change, policy change and change our practices if we are going to support our teams to maintain their wellbeing.” 

As Hayley says, being active and moving more improves our mood, its helps productivity and our colleagues take less time off sick because they’re healthier. All of this helps to be a good employer, you are taking care of your employees and this helps our companies be a great place to work.  

If you need any support to get your workplace moving more please visit the workplace toolkit and don’t hesitate to drop me an email ([email protected]) if you think I can be of any help.  

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