Innovative Back To Office Strategies

Innovative back-to-office wellbeing initiatives helping employees with new working practices

As business leaders plan for their employees returning to the workplace over the next few months, they should take a leaf out of the playbook developed by a school in the UK.

This Midlands based school came up with the idea of a ‘Wellbeing Week’. They have decided that for an entire week there should be no scheduled classes or homework. Instead pupils and teachers will focus purely on employee wellbeing, team building and outdoor activities.

At the end of a year of lockdowns and Coronavirus restrictions this might be just what the doctor ordered. Apparently the school kids are over the moon. One was quoted saying that this was the first week that they did not experience the Sunday blues.

Yale University in the US and Bristol University in the UK have recently launched ‘Science of Happiness’ courses. Bristol’s three-month course has two strands – one academic, one practical. Students are lectured about the psychology and the neuroscience of happiness. What it is, why it happens.

They also have to carry out practical tasks such as performing an act of kindness, chatting to a stranger, taking time to savour an experience, exercising, sleeping well, even writing a thank you letter. The idea of the course was to combine cutting-edge research with practical advice.

An academic study of the course has found that the first cohort, who took it at the end of 2019, had significantly higher mental wellbeing than a control group.

Global investment bank Citigroup has banned work video calls on Fridays in an attempt to help employees break free from the “relentlessness of the pandemic workday”.

Jane Fraser, Citi’s new chief executive, told staff that the last day of the working week would be known as “Zoom-free Fridays”.

She also designated 28 May as a company-wide holiday to be known as “Citi reset day” and encouraged staff to book more holidays.

Nationwide, one of the UK’s largest financial services firms, is to tell 13,000 of its staff to work where they want when the coronavirus pandemic restrictions are lifted.

Nationwide has called the initiative Work Anywhere, and is going to introduce the plan after more than half of employees (57%) said they wanted to work from home full time. More than third (36%) said they wanted a blend of home and office work, while just 6% opted for a return to a five-day week in the office.


Enlightened business leaders should pay attention to such initiatives and think about a relevant back to the office ‘Wellbeing Week’ or similar concepts so that their employees can enjoy online and office based activities that help with their happiness, team building and general health.

As more companies are moving towards a hybrid in-office and remote working approach they are learning the positive and negative consequences of such a model. Employee wellbeing and team building activities and approaches will need to adapt.

What are you planning to do to help your employees with their health and wellbeing?

Subscribe to Surviving to join the conversation via comments, Q&A sessions and more - its free! And follow us on twitter @LettsGroup.