Investing in the Health of Remote (and In-Person) Teams

January 27th, 2022

Is your new year’s resolution to go to the gym more this year? We all know that we’ll be healthier if we stay active, but for those of us glued to a desk 8+ hours a day, it can be a real challenge to move enough to stay healthy. According to the Institute in Medicine, musculoskeletal disorders, including carpal tunnel, tendinitis, lower back pain, and other issues common to desk workers, cost employers $45-$54 billion annually in lost wages, compensation costs, and lost productivity. And that was before the pandemic; who knows how working from home en masse will affect our bodies?

At FFW, our people are our greatest asset. We strive to support our team members in many aspects of their lives, especially their wellness. We know they will be more productive at work and fulfilled in life if they’re feeling good. As the pandemic has continued to cause increased mental and physical challenges for those with sedentary work environments, FFW Americas CEO, Nancy Stango, recognized an opportunity to invest in their wellbeing.

Nancy teamed up with Jason Friedman of Blues City Strength & Conditioning to create move@work. The program teaches FFW staff simple movements and strengthening exercises they can do at or around their work station throughout the day, so they may feel happier and healthier.

I feel so fortunate to work at a company where our CEO, Nancy Stango, has put health and taking care of ourselves at the forefront. When I met with my surgeon for a check up, he asked what was different. I told him about move@work. He said, “I wish every company would do this for their employees.''

Valerie Peterson, VP of Client Engagement at FFW

In this Q&A, Jason talks about the value of moving throughout the workday and provides a few exercises for anyone to get started.

Why is it important for people to move throughout the day?

We were not made to be sedentary creatures. We were made to move, and modern living has taken that away. We no longer really need to move to survive. Unfortunately, that is not healthy for our systems. The old principle of use it or lose it applies here: if you want to live a long, healthy, high-quality life, that means moving your body as much as you can.

How does move@work help us do this?

The vast majority of folks that I work with are working professionals who spend a significant amount of time at a computer or a desk. That's how we do our work these days, but people are getting hurt from injuries related to being bound to a desk. The more you sit, the more sedentary you are, the more likely you are to have problems with your neck, shoulders, wrists, hands, elbows, knees, or lower back. Those joints are not receiving the necessary range of motion or muscular resistance. I focus on moving each and every part of the body, specifically the major joint locations and supporting muscular groups, such as muscles that stabilize the hip and the shoulder.

What are the downsides for employers when their employees don’t get enough movement throughout the day?

There’s been a lot of research that shows employees are struggling to be more active in their lives and to achieve work-life balance. From an employer's perspective, when people are less healthy or dealing with pain and injuries as a result of their work, it will affect their productivity. Pain and discomfort is a distraction. If people are uncomfortable, they're going to be thinking about that and may be less able to focus. In addition, when you're moving, you're sending more blood flowing throughout your body, including to your brain, which should help you think and be more productive.

Getting up out of your seat, taking breaks to go outside, letting in some sunlight and fresh air, all of this should help to rejuvenate your system so that when you get back to your desk, you're able to be productive. It's trying to find balance.

How can we get started?

People are very habitual creatures. You're training your body all the time, so if most of your time is at a desk, your body gets kind of stuck in these positions.

Having a set time to move helps us form the right sort of habits. I always tell my students that this is not something that we just do once or twice a week; it’s about finding breaks throughout your day when you can incorporate movement. It doesn’t have to be intense. From a work-life balance perspective, just getting up, moving around, focusing on things like range of motion of joints, breath work, and adjusting positions are where we're going to get long-term bang for our buck.

To summarize, creating habits is really what this is about, and incorporating it as part of a daily practice into the way that we work: a new perspective on how to actually do your job.

Exercises To Try

In this video, Jason shares several exercises to get you started: 

Need more motivation? FFW’s VP of Client Engagement, Valerie Peterson, talks about how move@work has benefited her and all of us at FFW.

Why is it important for employers to provide opportunities for their teams to move at work?

I think there are many reasons why, but #1 is showing your employees you care about their health. The human body is not meant to sit at a desk all day. More and more injuries are being reported by employees because of the negative impact that sitting all day has on the body. If more companies would normalize moving while at work, if employees knew their company supports this and provides classes where they can learn the right way to move, employees would put more attention on their health and make movement a part of their day. I feel so fortunate to work at a company where our CEO, Nancy Stango, has put health and taking care of ourselves at the forefront.

How has moving more benefited you?

I have always been interested in sports and fitness. However, after two back surgeries, I was struggling with constant back pain at work. Since starting move@work, my back pain has decreased because I incorporate movement throughout the day but also feel confident I am incorporating the right movements. I have updated my work space with a yoga mat and a balance board, and focus on alternating between standing and sitting throughout the day. I also now have time marked in my calendar to get up and move and stretch. I feel so much better than I did a year ago!

When I met with my surgeon for a check up, he asked what was different. I told him about move@work. He said, “I wish every company would do this for their employees.”

Learn More

Looking for more ways to improve the work-from-home experience? Check out our 37 best practices for leading remote teams and why you might need them.

And if this sounds like the work environment for you, we’re hiring.


Ryan Pirkle

Ryan Pirkle

Sr. Director Marketing & Communications Americas