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How wearables and wellness programs are transforming the workplace

Ryan Faas | Oct. 17, 2014
Fitness trackers, other wearable devices, and employee wellness programs are becoming popular among many employers. While these trends are in their infancy, they may very well transform the landscape of the workplace and office design.

Exercise spaces are also growing among companies offering wellness programs. The reason is simple - offer fitness classes in the office and you encourage physical activity, weight loss, and even stress reduction. Although a conference room can often serve for an occasional class, a dedicated space encourages employees to engage in exercise outside of dedicated classes. They can also make scheduling or rescheduling classes easier.

These dedicated spaces actually go beyond traditional exercise classes in some cases. A small but growing number of wellness programs take mental health and stress reduction into account as well. This can mean in-office yoga and meditation classes. It can also mean dedicated space for supporting these habits throughout the day, which can be useful in ensuring stress reduction, employee interactivity outside everyday work encounters, and even offer increased opportunities for engagement and collaboration.

Some organizations have gone even further. In her recent book Thrive, Arianna Huffington notes that at one Huffington Post office, nap rooms are provided off the main newsroom for staff that spend large amounts of time on duty.

While these programs won't immediately spell an end for the office as we know it anytime soon, they are likely to encourage notable changes in many workplaces. As more companies see a range of values in employee wellness like lower insurance costs, fewer sick days, and increased morale and productivity, however, are likely to drive incremental changes in many industries over the next several years.


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