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Creative ways to keep employees active during winter lockdown

Working from home combined with social lockdowns has made it challenging to stay active this winter. As title sponsors of Visma Ski Classics, we have been able to do something creative about it.

Hands making a heart in the sunset outdoors

Our sponsorship allows us to promote health and an active lifestyle across the population. Internally, it inspires us to do joint activities, cheer for each other and overcome challenges together – both at work and in sports. But the sixth season as title sponsors of Visma Ski Classics has proved a little different from previous years.

When you can’t travel to ski races, host events or do joint activities, we put our creative minds together to find ways of engaging our employees from their homes. The result is initiatives that raise the activity level and contribute to creating a social bond online.

Visma Active Digital Ski Tour

At the start of the ski season, we launched the Visma Digital Ski Tour – a competition based on physical activity. The original Visma Ski Classics consist of nine long-distance ski races adding up to almost 600 kilometres. In our digital ski tour, employees use their smartphones or watches to track their activities to reach the same length measured in steps.

The progression is visualised in a map where each milestone is a Visma Ski Classics race. Here, employees can follow their own progress and have fun by comparing themselves to their colleagues.

Employees can follow their progress and their colleagues on the map of the real Visma Ski Classics races.

The activities range from ordinary steps to more vigorous exercise, like running, skiing and yoga. You can also get bonus points for walk-and-talk meetings, doing squats or other fun exercises that include online social interaction.

The overall winner is the first to have completed the distance of all the Visma Ski Classics races combined. But we also give out prizes for most bonus points and other categories.

Motivated by colleagues

One of the eager participants is Phil Scarampi, who works in communication at our Oslo office. Phil is out skiing two or three times a week. He also goes for walks after work; to the supermarket or to catch up with friends and family on the phone. Activities that add up to an impressive amount of steps combined.

“Sometimes, I have days where I only walk a few thousand steps. The app opens your eyes and reminds you to get out, even when you don’t feel like it.”

Phil Scarampi
Phil Scarampi is passionate about cross-country skiing in what he describes as the “winter wonderland” of the Oslo woodlands.

He also believes the pandemic has influenced his exercise routines. “When you’re limited in what you’re allowed to do, you need to get outside and exercise. The competition is the icing on the cake, giving you that extra push when you’re on the trail.”

When asked what motivates him, Phil highlights the competitive element of the tour. “Seeing my colleagues’ activity is encouraging, especially when they clearly have great daily routines. I’m a competitive person, so it’s certainly motivating to be crushed on a daily basis by my boss,” he adds jokingly.

Anna Enerstvedt believes the Visma Digital Ski Tour has inspired her to be more active.

Anna Enerstvedt has made bonus activities into her daily “to-do” list. She works as a sales coordinator and enjoys going for walks in the forest while enjoying the silence and sounds of nature. “I find it incredibly relaxing and cathartic,” Anna explains.

Anna is in the lead of the digital ski tour with the most completed bonus activities in Visma. “I love the combination of activities. I usually go through the activity list before I go to bed. Sometimes I just have to get out of bed and do the ten squats if I have forgotten during the day,” she reveals.

Anna finds competing with her colleagues and the rest of the organisation to be the most motivating part of the ski tour. “When the competition is centred around being active, it’s even more fun. I’ve definitely become more active thanks to the tour,” she concludes.

Visma Digital Ski Tour in numbers so far

259 million total steps901 morning walks
6848 active hours703 walk-and-talk meetings
14 730 bonus tasks4770 squats during work hours
1198 cross-country sessions696 friendly messages to colleagues

Another one of our employees, ranking among the most active in the competition, is Lasse Andreassen. He works in sales at our Tønsberg office. He focuses on activities that give the highest number of steps, such as spinning and cross-country skiing.

“I have exercised more during the pandemic than I normally would. The competition has triggered my competitiveness, and it requires a bit of effort,” Lasse admits. He averages around 32 000 steps a day, placing him at the top of the leaderboard in Visma. 

But it is not only winning that Lasse finds motivating. “At the same time, I believe that team spirit is the best motivation – being challenged by colleagues and pulling through as a team,” he points out. 

Lectures on health and wellbeing

Athletes are known for following a strict health and training regime. For the rest of us, exercise also requires attention to our total wellbeing. In Finland, we’re organising a series of online lectures with top health experts this winter. The sessions cover nutrition; training and exercise; body care and recovery; and rest and sleep. 

The lectures appeal to a broad group of people and focus mainly on general wellbeing. But they also take into account people who exercise more – preparing for a long-distance ski race like Ylläs-Levi or other arduous training. Before each session, employees are encouraged to enter questions on the topics they’re interested in directly to the expert.

Screen showing online lecture

One of our employees attending the lectures is Anna Kiminki, who works as a marketing specialist in Visma Tampuuri. She likes to stay active and enjoys yoga and walking. “We recently started team walks with colleagues,” she explains. It’s so refreshing to take a break outside the home office and just walk and talk.”

“Our HR department is very committed to encouraging us to stay active,” says Anna, who finds the online lectures a good initiative. “I really enjoyed listening to the first lecture about healthy life. Hanna Partanen is an energetic and brilliant speaker.” 

Anna has no doubt that the lectures will inspire her to make healthy choices in her daily life.  “After attending the lecture, I will definitely take some of the advice to heart and try to have a more regular sleeping routine.”

Anna Kiminki regularly breaks up the home office routine to walk and talk.

Ski sessions

In Lahti, Finland, we are also hosting ski sessions for our employees with former pro skier Jari Isometsä as the coach. Our employees attend the sessions in small groups of five – keeping in line with social distancing restrictions, of course.

The sessions allow the employees to brush up on their cross-country skiing skills and get together with their colleagues outdoors, a welcome break from home office life.

Coach Jari Isometsä demonstrates cross-country skiing technique for our employees in Lahti.

The importance of a healthy workforce

Having a healthy workforce is important to us in Visma. Encouraging employees to stay active enables them to thrive and helps to drive productivity and motivation. We also know that job seekers are looking for an employer that offers a healthy work environment where physical activity is encouraged and facilitated. 

As the winter season progresses, Phil, Anna and Lasse continue their way towards the end of the ski tour. But the newfound focus on staying active is one that hopefully will continue into spring and summer.

At home in Oslo, Phil Scarampi is already contemplating his next activity. “When the snow is gone, I look forward to getting back into running. It will also be nice to be outside without your face freezing off!”

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