Witness the Fitness

5 things we’re doing at Flow to make it a healthy and happy workplace

I’ve always believed in the importance of looking after yourself, and of the link between a healthy body and a healthy mind. I know I feel more focused and productive at work when I’m feeling fit and healthy.

 

It’s important for me that the team at Flow are happy and healthy too, so I’ve tried to ensure it’s a health-conscious place to work, for the productivity and general wellbeing of the whole team. Here’s five things, some simple and some a bit more effort, that we’ve introduced to ensure the team are healthy and happy.

Work / life balance

You often see business ‘gurus’ evangelising about ‘the hustle’ and glorifying an idea of busting your balls to get where you want to go. The creative industry is no exception, there can be a very unhealthy hustle culture and I’ve certainly worked in agencies where you’re expected to regularly stay well beyond the normal working hours to get the work done. This is just poor project management, and should not be expected to be the standard. Occasional late nights when deadlines are looming, or if clients make last-minute changes, can happen but routinely overworking yourself or your team leads to a stressed and burned out workforce, poor productivity and quality of work, and ultimately to mental and physical health issues.

 

We are a busy agency with lots of projects going through the studio, but we very rarely stay past 6pm because we manage our time and workload effectively. This has been a conscious effort to ensure we all have some balance in our lives, and time to spend with family and friends away from work.

 

We’ve tried to make Flow a fun place to work, and I think we all genuinely enjoy being there, but it’s crucial for the whole team to have this down time to rest and think. For me personally I want to get home at a reasonable time through the week to see my young kids before they go to bed. I’d hate to look back in years to come and think I hardly saw them when they were little because I was always at work.

Team boxing

I’ve done boxing training on and off since I was about fifteen years old. It’s amazing for fitness and it’s good to be able to look after yourself. Since having kids eight years ago though it’s been harder to find the time or the energy for it and I’d let is slip. I got back into it a couple of years ago when a boxing and MMA gym opened up in the same building as our former studio as it was so convenient. Our motion designer Jordan got involved and started coming too and I realised it was a great way to bond with the team and stay fit at the same time. As we’ve added to the team since new members have joined in and now we have a group of 5 of us that go every week. We come in half an hour earlier that day and finish half an hour early to get there for a 5pm to 6pm training session.

 

It’s great to do something as a team that keeps us all fit and healthy, and is a really good bonding experience and good for a collective morale boost. Like I always say, a team that trains together, remains together!

Standing desks

We work on computers, there’s nothing we can do about that. We’re required to be at our computers for 5 or 6 hours every weekday. But it’s terrible for us! There’s loads of evidence linking a sedentary lifestyle with a greater risk of cardiovascular and respiratory issues, type 2 diabetes, as well as links with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. But what can we do?

 

One thing we’re trialing at Flow is introducing height adjustable desks that the team can sit or stand at. I’d read lots of things about the detrimental effects to our health of sitting down all day, and the potential health benefits of standing more so we took the plunge and bought some to try it out.

 

Naturally I had to lead by example so I got the first one, and I can report that after a few days of feeling pretty weary I now quite enjoy standing at my desk and feel like I’m getting a little bit of bonus  exercise in my working day, with another added bonus that I can get the cans on with some banging beats playing and have a little dance while I work!

 

After this successful trial we’ll be replacing all the desks with height adjustable ones over the next few months.

Healthy snacks and water bottles

We’re a creative agency. We have a beer fridge (in fact we have two). It’s mandatory. But you can’t be drinking beer all day. I’ve tried it, and it’s fine for a little while but it’s just not sustainable.

 

It’s crucial to stay hydrated throughout the day to be at your most productive and avoid fatigue and energy dips throughout the day. When every new team member starts at Flow they get a personalized water bottle, that we keep topped up regularly, reminding the guys to stay hydrated. We also bring in fresh fruit every Monday to make sure the team get their 5 a day!

Fresh Air

We all work hard, but you have to get away from the screen every now again, to get some fresh air, exercise and to see some nature. The health benefits of walking, and exposure to nature are well documented, and include improved fitness and reduction in stress related issues like anxiety and burnout.

 

It can be tough to make time to get away from the desks though, especially during the week. One way we do it is by going on a regular walking and networking day called Freshwalks. It’s an organised walking group led by an experienced rambler who takes a group of like minded professional people out for a day in the countryside. We’ve done a few now and bring different team members each time to give everyone a chance to get away from the studio for a day and get some fresh air. It’s always a top day out, good exercise, great opportunity to bond with another member of the team and a chance to meet some nice people too.

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