A holistic approach to remote work can help you stay fit when you work from home.

A Holistic Approach to Remote Work Blueprint

A Holistic Approach to Remote Work is a blueprint for a more well-rounded perspective on life and work. It outlines how exercise, meditation, healthy eating, and positive relationships can improve telecommuters’ daily routines and wellness.

For convenience and sharability, the contents of our holistic remote work strategies blueprint are available in the attached PDF download.

Click the report cover image to view and download the PDF or follow this link to view our free resource.

Disclaimer: Wellness ideas presented in this blog post and PDF are only meant to be informative. The following content should not be interpreted or substituted for professional medical advice from a trained, licensed professional. Please seek the attention of a health provider if you have questions about a medical issue, condition, or emergency in your home or workplace.

A Holistic Approach to Remote Work Blueprint

Our remote work blueprint is designed for telecommuters and remote-enabled leaders. They can use the blueprint to learn actionable steps for achieving a holistic approach to remote work. The blueprint also features best practices remote managers can execute to reinforce the advantages of holism. A holistic approach to remote work benefits telecommuters and, in turn, remote-enabled businesses.

Applying a Holistic Approach to Remote Work

Holism is a belief or philosophy that interconnected systems should function as wholes rather than as independent parts. But how does this relate to working remotely?

A holistic approach to remote work is an immersive wellness strategy incorporating physical, mental, and emotional well-being on both professional and personal levels.

This is especially important for anyone who works from home. Combining work life and private life within a shared space can be more stressful than traditional work arrangements that involve working in a centralized location outside the home. A 2017 joint study completed by Eurofound and the United Nations International Labour Office concerning the impact of telework on employment found that 41% of employees who frequently work remotely experience elevated stress levels, while only 25% of on-site employees endure high stress.

The goal of adopting a holistic approach to remote work routines is to mitigate the effects of telecommuting stressors like diminished resiliency, job burnout, feelings of insurmountable negativity or hopelessness, decreased visibility or engagement, and productivity losses. With this four-phase daily wellness philosophy, which is built on the following interdependent building blocks, telecommuters can enjoy more fulfilled and healthy lives while working or enjoying downtime:

  1. Exercise
  2. Meditation
  3. Healthy Eating
  4. Positive relationships 

Further Reading from Virtual Vocations: Remote Career Development: A Holistic Approach to Professional Growth


3 Actionable Steps for Incorporating Exercise into a Holistic Approach to Remote Work

Virtual Vocations - Creating and Maintaining Relationships with Remote Co-Workers

1. Set Realistic Fitness Goals

One core characteristic of remote work is flexibility. When determining fitness goals, apply this same principle to define success. Start small with micro-goals, like exercising for 30 minutes, three days per week, then build from there. Just remember a one-size-fits-all approach to fitness is not pragmatic; what is achievable for one remote worker may not be feasible for another.

Virtual Vocations - Creating and Maintaining Relationships with Remote Co-Workers

2. Make Small Changes to Increase Activity

Creating and maintaining a successful fitness plan is about more than carving out blocks of time to engage in exercise. In a holistic approach to remote work, making small changes can increase activity levels and overall wellness. For example, remote workers could stretch while reviewing notes before team meetings, set alarms to remind them to get up from their desks every hour, attempt to plank or do jumping jacks for the time it takes to warm their lunches, and switch to standing or treadmill desks to reduce the sedentary nature of their workdays.

Virtual Vocations - Creating and Maintaining Relationships with Remote Co-Workers

3. Focus on Fun in Exercise

Maintaining an exercise regimen requires dedication that can be difficult to muster after a long workday, particularly if that workday did not unfold as hoped. Engaging in exercises that feel more like playing than working out can give remote workers the extra push they need to stay active. Consider fun activities, like hiking, swimming, Frisbee, rock climbing, and dancing, which do not require a gym membership.

Further Reading from Virtual Vocations: Food and Fitness Tips for a Sedentary Work Style


3 Actionable Steps for Incorporating Meditation into a Holistic Approach to Remote Work

Virtual Vocations - Creating and Maintaining Relationships with Remote Co-Workers

1. Define Personal Relaxation

Like setting realistic exercise goals, remote workers should evaluate what relaxation means to them individually as well as what they hope to achieve as practitioners. The health benefits of relaxation are numerous, according to the Mayo Clinic, and include lowered blood pressure, improved digestion, slowed breathing, increased blood flow, decreased fatigue, reduced anger, boosted confidence, and better digestion. These wellness gains are heightened when paired with additional positive coping methods like exercising, getting sufficient sleep, enjoying levity in life, developing and relying on a support system, and managing time successfully.

Virtual Vocations - Creating and Maintaining Relationships with Remote Co-Workers

2. Explore Meditation Styles

“Just as there are many different reasons why people meditate, there are many different kinds of meditation,” which is the belief of Mindworks—an educational non-profit organization offering guided meditation training, resources, and tools. Learning about a range of meditation styles will help remote workers choose the correct method to achieve their relaxation goals. When investigating meditation styles, keep in mind the following primary techniques:

  1. Movement Meditation: Movement meditation celebrates, and draws relaxation from, the body in motion; walking is one form of movement meditation.
  2. Visualization Meditation: Visualization meditation uses imagery to evoke a certain feeling within the mind.
  3. Spiritual Meditation: Spiritual meditation is a practice to help people discover the best versions of themselves through compassion and kindness; it may or may not involve silent or spoken prayer.
  4. Chanting Meditation: Chanting meditation may utilize mantras and is focused on the sounds and melodies of words.
  5. Mindfulness Meditation: Mindfulness meditation is based on Buddhist teachings and seeks to combine awareness with concentration.
  6. Focused Meditation: Focused meditation is about being present; it means concentrating on a singular activity free of multi-tasking.

Virtual Vocations - Creating and Maintaining Relationships with Remote Co-Workers

3. Utilize Tools for Meditation Success

Remote workers trust technology to guide them to success as home-based employees. Similarly, the right tools can also elevate their meditation journeys. For example, a peaceful room or outdoor space, comfortable seating, soft music, and aromatherapy will make the meditation atmosphere more inviting. Technologies like noise-canceling headphones, a white noise machine, and meditation apps can also heighten the reflective experience. Additionally, they may aid remote workers to more easily focus on relaxation and inspire them to maintain their meditative routines.

Further Reading from Virtual Vocations: Meditation Benefits and Guide For Remote Workers


3 Actionable Steps for Incorporating Healthy Eating into a Holistic Approach to Remote Work

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1. Prepare Meals in Advance

Meal prep is a healthy eating tool with measurable benefits, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Preparing meals in advance can save time and money, promote weight control through conscious efforts to monitor ingredients and portion sizes, lower stress caused by last-minute food choices and frenzied preparation, and inspire a more balanced, nutritionally rich diet. To get started, follow steps like these:

  • Talk with family members about meals they love as well as ones they want to try.
  • Choose the best day(s) per week to shop, plan meals, and cook.
  • Research healthy recipes.
  • Start small with setting a goal to meal prep for two or three days per week.

Virtual Vocations - Creating and Maintaining Relationships with Remote Co-Workers

2. Remember to Eat

Yes, eating is something telecommuters can forget. From juggling deadlines to business travel and family commitments, there are many roadblocks to remote workers putting their needs first. Ironically, healthy eating habits, such as eating small, frequent meals, will give home-based professionals fuel to be alert and productive. Dr. Deborah Muoio, PhD, who researches and studies metabolic diseases with Duke University, “recommends grazing—eating smaller, more frequent meals—to keep your metabolism running smoothly.”

Virtual Vocations - Creating and Maintaining Relationships with Remote Co-Workers

3. Snack the Right Way

Snacking unfairly carries a negative connotation associated with junk food. However, when done in moderation and using nutritious food choices, snacking is positive. It is an enjoyable healthy eating strategy telecommuters can implement in their holistic approach to remote work.

Regarding snacks, Medline Plus—an online health information resource from the U.S. National Library of Medicine—states, “They can provide energy in the middle of the day or when you exercise. A healthy snack between meals can also decrease your hunger and keep you from overeating at meal time.” Depending on individual dietary preferences and/or restrictions, remote workers can delight in energizing, healthy snack options like dried or fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain cereals and crackers, seeds and nuts, and yogurt and cheeses.

When developing a smart snacking strategy, remote workers should keep in mind the following snack tips:

  • Keep snacks in the kitchen, rather than at a workstation, to prevent overeating and create an additional inducement to move away from the desk.
  • Use healthy snacks as motivators to complete major to-do list items.
  • Store temptation snacks like candies, cookies, and greasy chips in locations that are out of sight or difficult to reach.

Further Reading from Virtual Vocations: Dinners That Take Less Than 30 Minutes


3 Actionable Steps for Incorporating Positive Relationships into a Holistic Approach to Remote Work

Virtual Vocations - Creating and Maintaining Relationships with Remote Co-Workers

1. Consider Work-Life Integration

Work-life balance is a buzzword that can lead remote workers to try and establish unrealistic boundaries between their professional and personal lives. Alternatively, work-life integration embraces the inevitable intersections between work and private life. Under the umbrella of work-life integration, a remote worker may answer emails while sitting in a lobby awaiting a doctor’s appointment, or take their dog for a walk while participating in a conference call. The goal of work-life integration is an organic approach to life and work, taking each as it comes without blocking specific times of day to solely focus on personal or professional matters.

Virtual Vocations - Creating and Maintaining Relationships with Remote Co-Workers

2. Know and Communicate Needs

Good communication is the foundation of any positive relationship, whether in the workplace or within one’s private life. The need for effective communication is magnified when remote work is part of the equation. This is especially true for remote workers who are fully virtual employees living and working under one roof.

The mistake all telecommuters make at one time or another is taking communication for granted. This leads remote workers down the dark and treacherous path of assumption. When remote workers assume their colleagues and family members can anticipate their needs, they will always be disappointed. The solution is for teleworkers to remain self-aware of their needs and communicate them in a prompt and appropriate manner.

Virtual Vocations - Creating and Maintaining Relationships with Remote Co-Workers

3. Get Involved

Loneliness is an unfortunate downside of remote work that nearly all telecommuters experience at one time or another. A Harvard Business Review poll of more than 1,100 U.S. workers found that “Remote employees are more likely to report feeling that colleagues mistreat them and leave them out.” And while remote workers enjoy the freedoms associated with more control over their lives and schedules via telework, they may find working with others challenging. These negative impacts not only influence interpersonal relationships but also impact factors like telecommuter morale, deadlines, productivity, and retention.

The key to mitigating remote work isolation is to get involved with professional and personal communities. Remote collaboration apps like Slack provide space for telecommuters to create chat channels based on mutual interests. Distributed colleagues can also host events like virtual coffee hours, show-and-tells, and movie nights. Within their local areas, remote workers should research community groups, classes, and volunteerism to create space for them to develop their talents, interests, and relationship-building skills outside of work and home.

Further Reading from Virtual Vocations: Creating & Maintaining Relationships with Remote Co-Workers Blueprint


“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person—not just an employee—are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled.”

—Anne M. Mulcahy

3 Best Business Practices for Remote Managers to Facilitate a Holistic Approach to Remote Work

Virtual Vocations - Creating and Maintaining Relationships with Remote Co-Workers

1. Get to Know Remote Team Members on a Personal Level

As appropriate, remote managers should try to get to know their employees on an individual basis. This interpersonal gesture is one that builds trust within organizations, which is a critical element for employee engagement that positively reverberates throughout the whole of an organization. Gallup studied “Why Some Leaders Have Their Employees’ Trust, and Some Don’t” and found “There is a ripple effect in successful organizations: The engagement of leaders extends to the engagement of managers, which then extends to the front line.”

Establishing trust with gig workers is also an important component for managers fostering a holistic approach to remote work among their teams. Contractors, who are typically paid hourly, per diem, or project-based rates, may not have downtime available or the incentivized desire to get to know their co-workers. However, this does not mean gig workers should be overlooked where engagement is concerned; in fact, trusting teams are up to 50% more productive. Remote managers can build trusting relationships with independent contractors by consistently clarifying expectations, being practical about the differences between gig workers and full-time employees, and remaining transparent about project purposes and their endgames.

Virtual Vocations - Creating and Maintaining Relationships with Remote Co-Workers

2. Offer Wellness Incentives

Wellness programs and incentives are present in approximately half of U.S. companies, according to the CDC. The “Workplace Health in America 2017” study, which surveyed more than 3,000 U.S. worksites, encapsulates the importance of safety and health programs as well as the value in company-led well-being initiatives in the U.S. Programs address wellness factors, like fitness, exercise, sedentary behavior, tobacco use, and weight management, and save companies money in reduced absenteeism and healthcare costs. When determining the type of wellness incentives to offer employees, remote employees and managers should consider the following criteria:

  • Wellness program budgets and resources
  • Company culture and values, which should be reflected in any wellness incentive program
  • Input from upper management as well as employees about goals for the program and which incentives would be the most motivating
  • Methods for tracking and monitoring the progress of incentive programs and the distribution of rewards
  • Promotion and awareness of wellness incentive programs to ensure they are accessible by all employees and managers

Virtual Vocations - Creating and Maintaining Relationships with Remote Co-Workers

3. Implement Flexible Scheduling

Since 2015, when Virtual Vocations began surveying site members and completing research studies on remote work, increased flexibility has been cited as the number one reason jobseekers want to work remotely. For remote managers, flexible scheduling is a vehicle to facilitate a holistic approach to remote work for their employees. Having more control over their schedules allows remote workers to work during their most productive hours while also participating in exercise and meditation, eating healthy, and engaging in positive relationships.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) also recognizes the pull of flexible work arrangements (FWAs), which are offered by more employers than ever before. Flexible scheduling can take on a variety of formats, depending on employer needs and company policies. Popular FWAs include telecommuting on an ad hoc or permanent basis, flextime as needed or during core business hours, compressed workweeks, shift flexibility, seasonal scheduling, job sharing, alternating location arrangements, and a results-only work environment (ROWE), according to SHRM.

Related: Bonding Strategies that Can Work for Any Distributed Team, by Virtual Vocations CEO Laura Spawn, Business 2 Community Contributor

Final Thoughts

Through exercise, meditation, healthy eating, and positive relationships, remote workers can take a holistic approach to remote work. Holism, as it relates to telecommuting, is an immersive wellness strategy intended to strengthen the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of remote workers on both professional and personal levels. A holistic approach to remote work, especially when supported by remote managers, benefits workers and employers through reductions in job burnout, feelings of hopelessness, and disengagement.

Are you currently utilizing a holistic approach to remote work within your own life? Do you plan to use this blueprint to guide you in crafting a holistic approach to remote workConnect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and YouTube to share your thoughts on this telecommuting blueprint and find more remote work content and conversations.

Image credits: Canva; PDF designed by Kimberly Back


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