Vivien Szalai | May 8, 2019
5 Minutes Read
In my previous blog post, I shared how important it is for us to provide a flexible and healthy working environment for our employees. In addition to having an open policy on home office, we feel that as an employer, it’s our responsibility to help our team maintain their physical and mental health. Employee well-being and employee performance are closely linked: a culture of wellness actually drives results by helping to create a more engaged workforce. I thought I would share our employee wellbeing initiatives with you. When it comes to attracting and retaining top talent, it’s essential to understand the desires and needs of employees at their workplace. This can be quite challenging because let’s face it, we tend to concentrate on the present and only focus on our health when a problem hits. Painful illnesses and permanent disabilities not only make an employee’s life miserable, but they also raise critical human resource issues. We believe prevention is always better than cure, so promoting health at the office (and outside, too) is a top priority.
As our environment impacts our health in multiple ways, the location and arrangement of our office was a conscious choice. We avoided the noisy, polluted downtown area and opted instead for a cleaner, calmer space 15 minutes from the inner city. Individual needs are always respected regarding equipment. Everyone gets to choose their preferred working devices and their workstation. We have fitballs, bean bags, and standing desks to compensate for the mostly sedentary lifestyle of deskbound programmers and developers. Employees want to be treated as human beings with feelings and emotions. They’re not robots. Multiple studies have shown that bringing nature inside can relieve stress, make us more active, and even help mitigate mental illness. Having plants around us boosts our mood, and makes for a fun team-building activity every once in a while; we love experimenting with crazy things like sprouting avocados.
We have one unshakable policy that makes us different: no open space in the office. Although we highly encourage interaction and collaboration within the teams, in our opinion this toxic workplace design is the worst possible way to make this happen. Stuffing people together in an open-plan office, without any privacy, guarantees the opposite; everybody is hunched over their desk, watching the clock, desperately waiting for a break. And when they get a break, they’d rather enjoy their coffee alone than chat with others. We strive for a pleasant atmosphere where employees talk happily with each other, joke, and walk around. We have a floor full of smaller rooms where each team can sit together comfortably and work without the frustration of being jammed in with the masses and put on display. The doors are open. Anyone can come in if they need something. Surprisingly, people are more likely to reach out to each other in person rather than over chat or email. Another important thing we shouldn’t underestimate is the power of laughter. We are proud of our active geek joke chat channel (yes you read it right!) which gives an instant mood boost whenever we need it.
Healthy snacking culture
The office – especially in the IT industry – is often blamed for being a breeding ground of bad eating habits. It is a fact that we live in a snacking culture. We grab a cookie with our coffee, enjoy a dessert after lunch, and munch on something between meals. Mindless snacking not only triggers several diseases such as diabetes and obesity, but it also takes its toll on our concentration if we overload on sugar or fat. But we don’t have to end our workplace affair with snacking. With a little awareness, snacking can be a healthy habit. It can boost productivity and also serve as a great occasion to socialize. We regularly have fruit days and always order hearty dips with veggies and whole grain bread sticks for company events. We have a nice tradition of bringing souvenir snacks from business trips. It’s not surprising to find some spicy nori chips, fish snacks, or exotic dried fruit in the kitchen. Every once in a while, we enjoy the benefits of drinking a glass of quality red wine, especially if it’s from our colleague’s family vineyard 😉
Getting active at work
Office yoga is a popular trend nowadays. There are countless tips on the Internet on how to do 5-minute stretches for a quick energy boost. But if we want a lasting effect, we have to go all the way and do it properly. We embraced the idea of not having to leave the office for a relaxing and refreshing session and partnered up with a professional yoga instructor. She comes to us every Wednesday and turns our meeting room into a yoga studio. We get to reap the benefits of yoga without having to wake up insanely early or spend half the class worrying about the morning traffic jam. They don’t even have to bring yoga mats, as our teacher takes care of that. We have our own preferences when it comes to daily routines; not everyone is a fan of morning yoga. Some prefer having a break during the day and getting active in the fresh air. As we have a flexible schedule, anyone is free to take a longer lunch break and finish their work later. We’re happy to have an office very close to Városliget where our running advocates can tune out. There are a few runners who are so passionate that they team up for regular races and enter charity runs.
Recreation at work
We have a cozy terrace with a stable wifi connection if someone needs some fresh air while brainstorming a challenging task. There is also a chill room with comfy beanbags and space to do yoga or use the foam roll to destress. We provide all the necessary equipment – such as fitballs and standing desks – to prevent neck and back pain, but sometimes this isn’t enough. We also have a secret weapon to combat muscle soreness – office massages. There’s nothing like a relaxing and relieving massage when someone suffers from tense muscles. Our talented masseur comes every month and transforms our chill room into a magical zen zone with relaxing background music and natural scents. Stepping away from the to-do list to sink onto a massage bed midday is a fantastic physical and mental treat. It can soothe nerves instantly and work miracles in just one session. We also have a reading corner, a small Lego collection to play with, the indispensable dartboard, and, most importantly, a VR headset. This is a recent investment which we are really happy with. We use it for a quick energy boost during the day and also organize some game nights where we can get lost in virtual reality.
Outside the office
Obviously, it’s not enough to try to stay healthy only at work. We also encourage our employees to pay attention to what their bodies and minds need outside the office. Not surprisingly, we are All You Can Move partners. Many of our employees take advantage of this benefit and leverage the motivation of doing sports together. We have squash, swimming, cardio, and weightlifting partners as well. We also grab the opportunity to get active when we organize team-building events. Last time we went to a bowling club and our next program will be driving go-karts. Considering the physical environment and work-life balance is an important component of our employee health strategy. We are proactive and open to introducing new initiatives if there’s a need. What do you need to feel better at work?
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