Vibrant and Healthy Telecommuting – TeleHappy

01 December 2021 → 31 December 2022
Regional and community funding: various
Research disciplines
  • Medical and health sciences
    • Environmental health and safety
    • Health management
    • Preventive medicine
    • Physiotherapy
Telecommuting prevention physical activity nutrition happiness well-being at work
Project description

Background: Since the start of the corona crisis (March 2020), there has been a significant increase in telecommuting. While some of the teleworkers report benefits such as increased flexibility, less time lost, costs and stress due to commuting, better work-life balance, etc., intensive telecommuting also exposes many pitfalls in health, both physical and mental. Improper workplaces and material, alienation and social isolation from colleagues, unclear work-life boundaries, etc. Therefore, there is still a lot of room for improvement to make telecommuting healthier and more enjoyable for everyone.

Aim: This project aims to have a positive general impact on all stakeholders, after 1 year, by achieving health gains in teleworkers through improvement of job satisfaction, prevention of physical and mental discomfort and providing solutions for teleworkers and their service departments.

Methods: The focus of TeleContent is on the implementation of existing prevention methods of Vlaams Instituut Gezond Leven vzw at the teleworkers from two departments of the Ghent Local Services (i.e., Human Resources and Facility Management). These departments household 269 (HR) and 322 (FM) potential teleworkers. The results from a first survey revealed that approximately 300 teleworkers (72%; 300/414 potential teleworkers, 23-64 years of age) were enthusiastic and willing to participate in this pilot project.

A diverse and attractive program is created for the participating teleworkers through a mix of strategies and prevention methods. First, we start with creating awareness about the importance of healthy and vital telecommuting. Subsequently, insights are gained into the current situation to reveal the specific needs of the teleworkers. Before the start of the implementation phase, we will examine how the existing prevention methods can be optimally attuned to the specific needs of (and together with) the teleworkers of the Ghent Local Services, by means of a design thinking approach. Subsequent, the focus will be on acquiring specific knowledge, skills and gaining experience through concrete actions such as education, sharing experiences with colleagues, workshops, putting the program into practice, individual and group actions, etc. around the 3 central themes: (1) mental well-being based on the ‘geluksdriehoek’; (2) healthy nutrition based on the ‘voedingsdriehoek’; (3) physical activity based on the ‘bewegingsdriehoek’. During the project, motivation is monitored and stimulated as an essential condition for behavioral change. Finally, advice will be formulated to implement and structurally anchor a workable and healthy telecommuting policy within the existing prevention and welfare policy of the Ghent Local Services, in line with the Flemish Health Goal 'Healthier life 2025'.