What a healthy workplace looks like

Emma Egan

We spend plenty of time there, and the healthier our workplaces are, the healthier we are likely to be. So what does a healthy workplace look like? Does it need to provide organic fresh food every day, or have a gym onsite? Should our meals and snacks be provided, or is the simple addition of a coffee machine all we really need?

The good news is that a healthy workplace does not need to make your office look like a health and fitness centre. Rather it is about a few key features that facilitate health and wellbeing for all staff, each and every day.

1. You can prepare food there

When the kitchen looks and smells worse than a uni dorm, and the fridge has not been cleaned out for years, literally, there is no incentive to prepare or even heat food in the office. This means we are more likely to head out and buy our lunch and snacks each day which literally adds hundreds of calories into our daily intake. A healthy workplace has a clean and inviting kitchen, with clean plates, glasses and cutlery so heating or preparing lunch and snacks at work is the easy option.

2. There is somewhere to enjoy your breaks

We eat at our desk more often, or head out of the office when there is nowhere to sit, comfortably and enjoy your lunch. A social lunch break filled with conversation and minus any kind of technology is not only good for the soul but good for the brain. It also supports healthy eating as we take time out to actually enjoy and savour our food. This means a healthy workplace will have a bright and airy breakout space where staff can enjoy their food away from their desk.

3. There is somewhere to shower

One of the greatest barriers for staff to be more active during the day, is the presence of facilities where staff can dress, change and shower. Far more people would walk or cycle to work or exercise at lunchtime if it was time efficient to get ready and showered again at work. In busy lives, time management is the key and schlepping to a gym is not always the time efficient option for busy staff. Rather commuting directly to the office or utilizing lunch breaks is a no brainer, as long as you can easily shower and get changed again afterwards without lugging huge bags and clean clothes.

4. Food is kept out of sight

When food is in front of us and readily available we are significantly more likely to eat it – think office lolly jars, biscuit tins, fundraising chocolates. This is not to say they should not be there altogether, rather it should be so easy to grab them. Treats and high fat, high sugar foods if available need to be kept out of sight to make it harder for everyone to mindlessly munch on them through the day.

5. Catering is healthy

What food do you think of when you think of catering? Thick Turkish bread sandwiches, banana bread and pasta and rice based salads – all heavy, stodge foods few of us need or really enjoy. Smart workplaces will consider that staff need access to healthy, vege and protein rich foods when catering is ordered – plenty of salads, light wraps along with vege, fruit and cheese plates are much better options nutritionally and much better for cognitive and physical performance in general.

Susie Burrell offers a range of solutions for workplaces to support the nutrition, health and well-being of their staff including videos, newsletters and corporate talks. Learn more here.

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