Susan McFarlane is Head of Marketing, Communications and Business Development for a group of businesses in the UK pension industry and Trustee of Living Streets Services.

She considers the changes to the working day since the COVID-19 pandemic took a hold and how #walkingfromhome can continue to support workers' health. 


Susan McFarlane
walking works

Walking at work is a thing many of us take for granted; we might be walking to and/or from work, to public transport on our commute, or we may walk while we're at work.

Walking while we're at work might be organised in some way, for instance through a walking group, as it is well known that it brings health and wellbeing benefits, but many get the chance to walk at some point during their working day. And look forward to it. 

The situation we find ourselves in at the moment in the UK, has completely changed that routine for most of us.




While we've been encouraged by the Government to exercise daily, at a two metre distance from others, it might feel like the amount of physical activity we can get each day has altered radically. We know that work, for many of us, is unlikely to return to its previous pattern for quite some time, if ever. It makes it even more precious to make sure we get that time in our day, and important for businesses to support their workers to do so. 

Walking at work is something that continues to be relevant, wherever you're working, regardless of the pattern of your day. It can help to improve productivity and wellbeing.

The group of businesses I work for is very fortunate; we have been able to pivot to working entirely remotely, with little adaptation needed to our processes. One thing we have been keen to ensure throughout however, is that the people who deliver our services, make sure they have the time and the space to exercise, decompress and distance themselves from work. We've been making sure that everyone feels they can get out of the house and get some air and exercise. 

How To Encourage Walking During Working Hours

Encouraging our colleagues to walk for exercise continues to play a vital role in their wellbeing, even when they are not in their normal workplaces.   

  • Challenges for people to join are easy to set up and encourage people to join in through internal communications channels - on intranets, virtual bulletin boards or chat channels. These can be as simple, or as hard, as you like. 
  • Colleagues can share routes if they live in the same area, and perhaps meet up on a video call afterwards to discuss what they've seen over a cup of tea. 
  • Encouraging people to log their miles, perhaps towards a charity challenge, can get those with a competitive streak to pull on their walking shoes. 
  • Or scavenger hunts on routes can encourage similar team bonding, competition and motivation. Possibilities are endless and provide interest to otherwise familiar environments.

Join Living Streets virtual workplace walking challenge



Looking to the future, lockdown restrictions in the UK will change, eventually, allowing some businesses to operate from their offices again, with social distancing restrictions maintained. This could allow some of the businesses that have had to close temporarily to reopen, or to allow furloughed members of staff back to work.

However, the number of businesses that have been able to successfully enable remote working that will want to quickly return to office-based work, is likely to be limited.  Keeping employees safe remains a duty of care, that will encourage businesses to maintain remote working patterns.

Whatever the situation in any business, encouraging walking remains a way to keep people healthy, and encourages them to manage their mental health. Keeping up challenges and providing resources and ideas will continue to encourage people to keep up their walking for personal and work benefits. And let's not forget its National Walking Month - what better time to encourage everyone to walk a little every day, at work or at home.

Susan McFarlane

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