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Better by Design: 7 Ways We’re Committing to a Culture of Employee Wellness

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Better by Design, the Brand & Culture Committee’s part in the greater 2017 “Firm Fitness” initiative, aims to give employees the tools they need to make them healthier, happier and by default, more productive. Based on staff survey results, input and feedback, we decided to approach the program from three different lenses:

Mental: stress management and prevention

Physical: exercise opportunities and healthy food options

Emotional/Social: flexible and special hours and eWorking

For each category, we developed a list of classes, workshops and more that we can offer to support our staff, and what we realized is that many of these things were relatively easy changes: they could be demonstrably beneficial but wouldn’t require a huge budget or disruption to pull off. The result is seven different sub-programs that we’re implementing this summer to commit ourselves to employee and cultural wellness:

  1. Snacks: We know that people work better when given good fuel to do the job at-hand. We’re bringing in fresh produce and healthy snacks for this very reason.
  2. Exercise Classes and Challenges: We’re bringing in fitness instructors to lead Workout Wednesdays, a one-hour class either before work or during lunch. Our first class is a barre class. We’ll also host pop-up challenges and longer challenges like step challenges or sleep challenges to see who gets the most steps in or gets the most sleep within a few weeks.
  3. Summer Fridays/ GTFO Fridays: Of course, this stands for Get the Fun Out Fridays. This was kind of a no-brainer. With such a supportive response to this idea through the survey, we quickly moved to make this happen. One of our big concerns about instituting GTFO Fridays is that upper management would never get to take the benefit, but we’re encouraging good communication tactics in teams, where everyone works together to plan ahead and take the benefit together. We’d love to see most people out of the office at 1pm on a Friday afternoon.
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  4. Revisiting eWork: Many people actively participate in the eWork program here, but like many companies grappling with remote work policies for the first time, we’re trying to figure out how to make it work for us. When so much of our work is done collaboratively, it makes the idea of remote work daunting for some. Call it a case of FOMO, but we want to make sure everyone can use this benefit to get their best work done without feeling like they’re missing out on something by being away from the office. Sometimes all you need to tackle a big project is a little quiet time in sweatpants at home, and we want everyone to have that option if they need it.
  5. Concierge Service: Studio leaders can let the Brand & Culture Committee know when a giant deadline is approaching and their studio may need a pick-me-up. We’ll arrange for coffee, beer or snacks for this group.
  6. Coloring Books: There isn’t a scrap of paper that goes un-doodled around this office, and our creatives are always designing. We came up with the idea of asking for project sketches from everyone to compile into a coloring book. We’ll strategically place them around the office for Zen moments, and they’ll double as a marketing leave-behind for partners and friends of the firm.
  7. Quiet Work Stations: Everyone needs to get up from their workstation every now and then for a change of scenery or ‘heads-down’ time. It’s a common site in a design firm to see people leaned over tables and desks to examine drawings, and sometimes we need the option to get away from that. We’re working on setting up quiet areas to give people that choice. This is also a great way for people to “work remotely” if they want to participate in the eWork program but don’t have the at-home setup needed to support it. Staff can come pick a spot and work there for the day.

Better by Design is about more than health and wellness—it’s about collaboratively fostering the kind of culture we aspire to have and nurturing the good parts of what we authentically already have in place. We’ll keep you posted on the progress as we check in with our people over the year, but in the meantime, if your company is doing something great to encourage health and wellness, let us know in the comments below – we’d love to hear about it.