When building a company, it's easy to neglect one of the most crucial resources in your arsenal--your team's health.
Getting a company off the ground requires tremendous effort from everyone involved, but if you're proactive about building a healthy culture, you can help keep the team happy and productive, even in stressful times.
At Boundless, employee health is extremely important to us. Here's a peek inside of our office and our general health philosophy, including a few easy tips for making sure you're creating a healthy culture of your own.
CRAFTING A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT
It can be tough to control your space when you're sharing an office with other companies, but once you've moved into your own office, there are plenty of opportunities to ensure that you're building a healthy environment for your employees.
1. Embrace the Power of Plants
Researchers aren't entirely sure why, but indoor plants help reduce stress, so you should definitely consider adding some greenery to your space.
Unless you've got a green thumb, be sure to choose plants that are fairly resilient. We've had plenty of employees inadvertently kill bonsais, orchids and the like, and the frustration can negate the benefits these plants bring.
Take it from our CMO, Brian Balfour: When in doubt, go with cacti.
2. Seek Natural Light
Natural light is also key--ideal for protecting vision and keeping employees productive, it keeps the body's regulatory processes running smoothly. If you don't have windows, consider a skylight or holding regular brainstorms on a walk outside to get some crucial Vitamin D.
3. Get Stand-Up Desks
Research has shown that sitting in front of a computer all day can have negative effects on your short AND long-term health, so companies everywhere are catching on to the appeal of stand-up desks.
At Boundless, most of our team rocks stand-up desks, and many have found that it makes them feel much more energetic than hunching in front of a computer all day. Standing up while working can also help prevent slouching and alleviate back problems.
FUELING THE TEAM
4. Offer Healthy Snacks
The ever-present stress that startup life brings can sap resources quickly, so be sure to have snacks on hand to help the team keep their energy levels in check.
At Boundless, we provide healthy snacks--like tea, coffee, nuts and dried fruit-- because they're delicious and incredibly easy to keep in supply via Amazon's subscription service (which can offer serious savings--details here.)
Remember: it's important to keep decaf options on hand for those who shun caffeine. We've seen a surprising amount of employees make the decaf switch over the last few months, and most report sleeping far better afterward.
Then again, most of these decaf converts fall off the wagon every other week, but this is a startup after all...
5. Everything in Moderation
It's also key not to be draconian with your health focus--beer and wine are usually on hand at Boundless to help those who want to unwind toward the end of the day, and birthdays often see a major spike in workers' sugar intake.
Thankfully, we have a couch for napping in the back room to help them work through the inevitable post-birthday-cake crash.
6. Repeat After Us: "Embrace the Nap"
Rested employees are far more productive and make better decisions than their sleep-deprived counterparts, so resist scoffing at the idea of "sleeping on the job."
Many companies are catching on to the benefits of napping, and at Boundless, we'd rather see our employees refreshed then propping their eyelids open with paperclips.
7. Promote Frequent Breaks
Everyone's work style is different. With that said, we encourage all of our employees to take regular breaks to help them decompress and handle the endless stream of tasks that roll in while working at a startup.
A number of our employees take to the basketball court across the street for frequent disengagement sessions or even take a quick lap around the block. Stepping away from a difficult problem or project for a moment can bring some much needed clarity.
8. Find and Encourage Bike Storage
Most of our employees are very active--rock climbing on the weekends, training for half and full marathons--and many bike to work everyday. It's essential to offer bike storage for those who commute via bike, and we've set aside a separate closet to accommodate our growing team's rides. Biking to the office has a number of environmental and health benefits, so it's great to encourage this practice whenever possible.
9. Foster Healthy Competition and Activities
Also, although it's currently out of commission due to some construction, we have a ping-pong table to encourage the team to get up from their desks and clear their minds.
We've also found that it's great to give employees space to introduce their fellow teammates to their passions. Amy, one of our Content Leads, practices yoga regularly, and she's been kind enough to lead us through a few in-office sessions to help the team decompress during particularly tough weeks.
Amy preparing to lead the team in Warrior Pivot Pose on our roof
10. Allow Pets in the Office
Finally, we've got our very own office dog, Pepe. Primarily on hand to guard HQ from intruders, he's also eminently adorable (see below).
Dogs in the workplace have been shown to significantly reduce stress, so consider allowing your employees to bring their own pets, if your landlord will consider it and you've got the space. Keep employees' allergies in mind here too--make sure the team is comfortable sharing their workspace with a new four-legged colleague.
Beware of Pepe
Creating a healthy culture is an extremely important investment. Remember: you need your team to be performing at their best, and they'll greatly appreciate you looking out for their well-being.
Also, these health tips are by no means exhaustive--be sure to check out sites like LifeHacker for additional productivity ideas.
Think your company's got a healthy culture? Have a great tip to share with the community? Let us know about it by posting a comment below or sending us a note on twitter @GoBoundless!
Crafting a healthy/fun/productive culture has been a blast! PS: we’re hiring!