The pandemic and the resulting social distancing practice have cultivated a culture of work from home across most corporations. According to a study by Upwork, at least one in four or 26 percent of the American workforce is likely to work from home or remotely through 2021. The same study reveals that in a workweek, those who are working remotely tend to be more consistent with their work, work longer hours, and get more done.

But as life returns to normalcy and employees are being asked to return to the office, there are repercussions. Say what you may, the office setting is just not as comfortable or precise as employees have made their home office setup over the last two years. Apart from things like commute time, there are issues like not being able to work well with some colleagues, no downtime, and other factors taking a toll on the employees’ well being resulting in reduced productivity.

However, that need not be the case. With some simple steps, companies can drastically improve employee well-being. Some of these measures can also promote a sense of belonging just like at home, which would ensure a workplace environment centered around healthy habits and well-being. Here are five steps to promote employee well-being at a workplace.

Promote a strong and sociable culture

The first step toward creating a healthy work environment is to promote a sociable work culture. If the Harvard Business Review report is anything to go by, friendships at the workplace can potentially increase employee satisfaction by as much as 50 percent. It isn’t possible to achieve a strong company culture overnight. However, there are ways to facilitate a good working culture development.

The use of intranet software with social tools and collaboration between teams is a key driver. Anything that encourages socialization and communication is the way forward. Having social activities outside of business hours, annual offsite trips to popular vacation spots as a team, and birthday celebrations are great exercises in building a strong company culture.

Take Care of Work Environment and Basic Amenities

It’s the little things that make the difference. Employees often feel frustrated if the office is using substandard facilities or is often out of supplies. So make sure the office supplies are well maintained and stocked all the time. Incorporate a good reporting process to identify issues like this and handle the complaints swiftly. 

You can also have a liberal policy in place for use of office accessories for personal use. For example, the printer can also be allowed to be used for printing personal messages or birthday wishes of other employees and their families. Always order premium quality printer ink and toner for the printers and copiers that can produce high-quality prints suitable for such purposes. 

Adding these little personalized touches to the office culture will engage employees and help improve their perception of coming to the office. It will instill a sense of belongingness and promote job satisfaction. 

Encourage Good Health Initiatives

Lockdown has been hard for everyone health-wise and shifting back to office life leaves even little time to focus on health. In case you, as a company, are opening back up in a new space, consider looking for a location with a dedicated fitness center, and if that’s not an option, try designating an area in your office building as a fitness center. 

In case you don’t have space, consider providing local gym membership as part of employee benefits. It’s a fact that employees with access to fitness centers are more likely to use them. 

Moreover, employees are more likely to not have time for fitness with work, families, and extracurricular activities. Finding time to be active and adopt healthier eating options doesn’t seem feasible for many. Have fitness sessions, bring in health chefs and fitness trainers for special classes to help such employees learn how to manage work-life balance for healthier living.

Normalize Downtime

If lockdown has taught us anything, it’s the fact that no one can give their all without experiencing some sort of mental distress and fatigue. By encouraging taking downtime during a workday, you’ll give your employees a chance to recuperate, gain focus and work with more gusto. The downtime can be utilized for anything from a power nap to taking a fitness class or simply catching up with friends at work. 

Pushing your employees to work to the bone might seem logical to you but it’s counterproductive in the long run. And therefore, it’s a must to make rest and relaxation a part of the company culture. After all, there’s a reason Google has sleep pods and Microsoft has tree houses on-premises for employees who need downtime.

Prioritize Mental Health

Last but not least, emphasize the importance of mental health among your employees. Remember while physical health is paramount, mental health is part of the package too. In case you don’t already offer counseling services or mental health awareness sessions for your employees, you may want to start a program. 

Things like stress and mental exhaustion lead to more serious issues in the long run. These include sleep deprivation, anxiety, heart disease, depression, and high blood pressure, among others. Mentally unfit employees won’t be able to give their 100 percent at work and affect the company as a whole.

The bottom line here is that healthy employees are happy employees, and happy employees are productive employees. By bringing about these small changes at work, you’ll ensure that your employees look forward to coming to work and giving their best.