Back when I worked as a reporter in an office building in downtown Indianapolis, there'd be many days when I came in before the sun rose and left after it set. Getting outside to just walk around was a very low priority, and the only exercise I might get would be the few steps to the break room for some coffee.
Now that I'm working from home, the same kind of busy workday keeps me indoors consistently while I'm writing, editing, and talking to people online and by phone.
In my own personal corner of the world, my workplace could be healthier if I just scheduled an hour to take the dog for a walk every afternoon. Something so simple could change so much, making me healthier and probably even improving my diabetes management.
That, right there, is the point of an ongoing innovation challenge aimed at creating healthier workplace communities throughout the world. This featured challenge on the OpenIDEO platform (a crowdsourcing innovation tool from award-winning design firm IDEO) is a multi-phase process allowing people to collaborate on ideas and solutions.
For this challenge, international healthcare group Bupa has teamed up with The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) to explore how we can create healthier communities inside and beyond the workplace. Simply, how can people best be supported at work to make positive changes to their health and wellness, and what skills and tools are needed to make these changes happen?
The OpenIDEO brief outlines the challenge and sets the stage. Here's a snippet of what this is all about:
Around the world diabetes and other chronic diseases, including obesity, heart disease and cancer, are on the rise — alongside rapid growth in levels of work-related stress and mental illness. In fact, according to the World Health Organisation, there are 36 million preventable deaths every year from these health problems — a devastating social impact for communities and a major financial burden for everyone.
While what we do for work, where we work and who we work with can have a lasting effect on our overall health and wellness, they are just a few important pieces of the overall puzzle. In what ways does our work life influence our personal and home lives as well?
While our challenge focus starts in the workplace, we're eager to explore the positive ripple effect that can be experienced when happy, healthy and supported employees go back to their own families and communities. How can we leverage the place and the concept of work to improve the health and wellness of everyone — starting with the individual and moving outward to their friends and family, their colleagues and beyond? How might we create workplaces and workforces that act as health hubs for entire communities?
With your help, we're interested in creating solutions that enable people make healthier choices at work and in life. From raising awareness, inspiring behaviour change or leveraging our co-worker and community relationships to catalyze broader health and wellness impacts, we're eager to explore solutions together.
This is what IDF spokesman Lorenzo Piemonte says about the organization's involvement:
"The International Diabetes Federation is supporting the OpenIDEO challenge as part of our commitment to achieving a coordinated and multi-sectoral response to the diabetes epidemic. Diabetes affects everyone and requires a collective response. Promoting environments and solutions that encourage healthy behavior - increased physical activity and better nutrition - in all aspects of modern life, the workplace being a very important one, is one of our priorities and our hope is that the OpenIDEO challenge will make a positive impact towards preventing the further rise of type 2 diabetes. We are encouraged by the contributions that have been made so far."
And this is where we come in.
A total of 337 "inspirations" were already sent in as part of the challenge, identifying issues and possible solutions to create these healthier workplaces. Then, 241 concepts were submitted as ways to address those issues. And for each idea submitted starting Dec. 21, OpenIDEO has pledged to made a $10 donation to IDF, up to $10,000 total.
Now, it's time for the e-patient community to evaluate all those ideas and decide which should be on the short-list for possible winners. This quick-fire "applause" phase begins today (Jan. 10) and runs through Jan. 15, allowing all of us to rate and comment on our favorite concepts that we feel have the most potential. After a refinement and final evaluation process, the winning concepts will be announced Feb. 7.
While a search shows only a couple concepts mention diabetes care specifically, many ideas hit at a broad range of exercise and healthy-eating themes that are highly applicable to people with diabetes. They run the gamut: lunch-time walking groups, treadmill desks with wobble boards, to a workplace chalk board challenging employees to eat healthier each day.
One idea urges allowing school kids to "play the teacher" in presenting information on what healthier foods to eat and how to educate their families and friends. Another idea, less D-specific, is to create a registered bone marrow donor map. This one was inspired by a U.S. map showing health, income and socio-economic divides.
A quick scan of some other submitted concepts include these (not that we're endorsing these specifically; they just caught our eye):
Permission To Take a Break: A system that would encourage and reward people for taking their full lunch break, rather than rushing to get back to work.
Workout Meeting: A program that would enable people to work out together while actually working, encouraging them to exercise while meeting up for business in exercise-equipped meeting areas.
Easier Insurance and Gym Access: Freelancers or contract employees often enjoy very few of the insurance coverage and gym membership perks available to those working for bigger firms. So, maybe Bupa can provide a participatory program for these people to attend gym/classes to improve their health and thus enjoy better insurance rates?
#LaughterIsTheBestMedicine: We all know this phrase, so why not create a hashtag #LaughterIsTheBestMedicine - or #LitBM - where people can upload and share photos of themselves laughing? People could follow the link for a daily dose of happiness to lift their spirits.
Wellness Dashboard App: An app that allows you to track and report your wellness across a holistic and customizable array of different wellness measures.
These are all intriguing ideas, and we can't wait to see what gets chosen for the final winners' list. Now let's get the Diabetes Community involved in this, particularly since IDF is leading the way!