The Workplace - May 2018

The Workplace - Guy Hayward

I remember the days when I thought that going to the gym at lunchtime was wrong; it was for those who weren’t serious about their job or their career. It was a long time ago now that I held those views (and I don’t like to think it was me), but I was brought up in a world of work where presenteeism in the office was considered the major factor influencing your progress.

Where do I sit now? With an unwavering belief that exercise should become part of the working day. It touches everything: performance, health, productivity, togetherness, camaraderie – the list goes on.

Fitness at work isn’t a new idea. I see wonderful examples of businesses embracing this simple philosophy, yet also many stuck where I was 15 years ago. Today’s workplace has changed and so has the need for everyone to follow.

I’ve seen some fun twists to encouraging fitness. Jagex Games offers its people free bicycle repairs at the office, meaning there’s one less excuse not to cycle to work, and communication technology company Bandwidth has introduced a 90-minute fitness lunch so that staff can relax in the knowledge that they have time for the gym and lunch. And I love the sleep pods at Google so that employees can take a 15-minute nap. Sleep supports fitness and performance perfectly.

I recently took a group of colleagues to stair climb at Broadgate Tower, organised by Total Motion. It was amazing fun.

So if it should be part of your working day, we should write regular exercise into our job descriptions.

At Goodman Masson we do, and it creates a wonderful point of differential when hiring. Why do I say this? Because the single biggest obstacle to fitness at work is we feel we don’t have the time. We have “too much to do”. What this really means is that we consider fitness less of a priority. But we could find time even for moderate exercise if we really wanted to. Exercise should be work’s best friend.

And this is why physical activity should become part of work itself. If the traditional view of fitness is that it is a personal indulgence so that we feel better about ourselves, less stressed and more creative then surely that extends to work too. After all, we spend 90,000 hours of our lives at work. Fitness can be a significant influence on our performance, success and progress.

Our Run Club takes a dozen or so people on a 5k run every Wednesday lunchtime: you could join us or do something similar. You only have to hear the enthusiasm when they’re back in the office to know the impact it will have on their afternoon.

There are hundreds – actually thousands – of scientific research papers celebrating the impact of wellness programmes on workplace performance. As an industry we should embrace the concept and encourage staff to exercise before, during and after work.

The workplace of today expects that fitness is part of our lives at work.

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