During our continual quest to create a thriving work environment, our team learned about the Blue Zones: regions in the world that see people living exceptionally long and healthy lives. Research on the Blue Zones was initiated by Dan Buettner, Blue Zones founder, and National Geographic Fellow and multiple New York Times bestselling author. His work is now featured in a stunning documentary on Netflix – we highly recommend it!
These regions include Okinawa (Japan), Sardinia (Italy), Nicoya (Costa Rica), Icaria (Greece), and the Seventh-day Adventist community in Loma Linda (California). Singapore has recently been added as an urban Blue Zone. Many researchers have studied these areas and identified common lifestyle factors and cultural practices that contribute to the longevity and wellbeing of their inhabitants.
As it turns out, their habits and cultural practices hold immense potential for transforming our workplace! By incorporating the principles of the Blue Zones, we can transform our workplace into a nurturing and thriving environment where team members not only survive – but truly thrive.
Creating a mini Blue Zone within our workplace is not only beneficial for the wellbeing of our team members, but it also enhances productivity, engagement, and overall success.
So, what are these principles and how can you create a mini Blue Zone in your workplace? Read on to learn more!
Key Principles and Practices Observed in the Blue Zones
In the Blue Zones, the majority of the population follows a predominantly plant-based diet (but not exclusively). They consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, which provide essential nutrients and contribute to their overall health.
Physical activity is a fundamental aspect of the Blue Zone lifestyle. The inhabitants engage in regular, low-intensity activities such as walking, gardening, and household chores.
Strong Social Connections:
The Blue Zones emphasize the importance of strong social connections and a sense of community. They engage in regular social interactions, support one another, and foster a sense of belonging.
Purpose and Meaning:
Having a sense of purpose and meaning in life is a common thread among the Blue Zones. They value their work, relationships, and contribution to society.
Creating a Mini Blue Zone in Your Workplace
Now you might be thinking, yeah, that’s all great, but I have to work seated at a desk all day long. My lifestyle is completely different from the lifestyles you just described. Yes, this is very true, and that’s the reason why it is so important to implement tiny little changes to your work routine or team environment, which have the potential to make a real big difference in how you feel.
Encourage Healthy Habits:
Promote healthier eating habits by offering nutritious snacks, organizing wellness challenges, and providing educational resources on nutrition. Encourage regular physical activity by implementing fitness initiatives and creating a supportive environment for movement.
As a remote team, we encourage healthy habits by sharing tips and recipes in our “Wellness channel” and by celebrating our self-care practices in our weekly team check-in.
Organize team-building activities, create spaces for open dialogue, and encourage collaboration among team members. Foster a sense of community by celebrating achievements, recognizing individual contributions, and encouraging peer support.
As a remote team, we do this by getting together for a team retreat (once per year is ideal). We also have ways of celebrating achievements throughout the year, and we dedicate time to seeking peer support at every check-in meeting.
Provide Meaningful Work:
Help team members find meaning in their roles by connecting their work to a larger purpose. Highlight the positive impact they make and provide opportunities for growth and development.
When we facilitate team retreats for our clients, we always recommend an exercise that helps team members identify their core values and how those relate to the work they do. A company’s values need to be much more than nice-sounding words. That’s why we make sure our own company’s values are grounded and truly meaningful to everyone on our team. Your team can develop their own set of values that guide their work, regardless of what the larger company values are. Reach out for free consultation if you want to know more about how to do this.
Create a Supportive Environment:
Design the physical workspace to promote wellbeing, incorporating elements that reduce stress and enhance productivity. Provide access to natural light, comfortable seating, and designated areas for relaxation or mindfulness. Encourage work-life balance by offering flexible schedules and remote work options when possible.
Some of the ways that we create a supportive environment is by scheduling debrief sessions once per month, having an “opps channel” where we openly share mistakes and take collective responsibility for continuous improvement. We also encourage team members to join the end-of-week check-in while standing, walking or sitting outdoors.
Lead by Example:
As a leader, embody the principles of the Blue Zones in your own life. Model a healthy lifestyle, prioritize self-care, and demonstrate a commitment to work-life balance. By leading by example, you inspire and motivate your team members to prioritize their wellbeing as well. The end result is a happier, more productive team as well as increased retention and less sick time.
By incorporating the principles of the Blue Zones—such as healthy lifestyles, strong social connections, and a sense of purpose—we can foster a work environment where everyone thrives. When we prioritize the wellbeing of our team members, we transform our workplace into a space that promotes longevity, happiness, and success for everyone!
Remember, your wellbeing matters. Embrace the Blue Zone principles and create a workplace that supports your physical, mental, and emotional health. To learn more about building a mini Blue Zone in your workplace and discover additional strategies for enhancing wellbeing, book a free consultation call with our wellbeing expert and CEO today. Together, we can create a thriving work environment that nurtures and empowers each individual.
Your future self will thank you!
Stay tuned for our next blog where we will highlight some of the outstanding practices that five remarkable companies have implemented to improve wellbeing in the workplace.
By Crystal M, Digital Marketing & Virtual Office Coordinator, Neolé