Some departments connect over happy hour or a casual group lunch. Facilities Services connects by stretching.
Gene Woodard, the director of Building Services, supported the creation of a very unique stretching program that makes a direct impact on staff every day. Three years ago, Steve Fayden, a staff member in FMC, initated a stretch and flex program to promote health and safety. They have found that it also improves productivity and builds a sense of community. Jessie Heasley, a gardener at the UW, invited me to participate in their morning session so I could see what it was all about.
At 6:55 a.m., 15 men and women were chatting in a circle while they stretched out each muscle group. In front of them was a poster that a student worker had created with pictures showing them which exercises to do each day. Everyone was laughing and catching up while doing the moves. Jessie later told me that since they cover over 700 acres of campus, this was the only time they were all together and it was a great way to start their day as a team. The exercises were also perfect for waking up the muscles and joints used in their daily activities. Since there are two shifts, the exercise time starts five minutes before each shift and never changes. This makes it easy for everyone to stick with it and join when they can.
The group has met every single day for the last six months. Jessie told me that many have commented that this regular routine has increased their leg strength, decreased pain, provided renewed energy, and created a greater sense of camaraderie amongst the group. She said,
“I cannot express enough how much this program has enriched the work environment of its participants and how much we all look forward to it every day!”
The payroll team within Facilities Services was so inspired that they wanted a program too. Together, we created Flex at Your Desk, a strength workout that can be done at your desk throughout the day. Special thanks to Renee Taculad for demonstrating the moves for the photographs. The team enjoyed seeing how 10 minutes of exercise can be very effective and that 30 minutes of exercise a day is more doable when broken into intermittent chunks.
You can access the Flex at Your Desk on our training page along with a variety of other training programs that you can try. Whether you want a walking routine, a running plan for all distances, a stair challenge, or the Flex at Your Desk workout, we encourage you to register and try it out.
Thank you to Facilities Services for inspiring the Flex at Your Desk program and for letting us share their story. Taking care of your body throughout the day is crucial to preventing chronic pain, injuries, and lack of energy. Try going for a five-minute brisk walk after reading this article. You will come back feeling energized!