Digital health coaching provides numerous benefits for the health and well-being of employees. It allows for flexibility, customization, and efficiency.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re learning more about the ways that location-agnostic support is beneficial for unanticipated transitions to remote work, as more than half of workers1 are currently or preparing to go remote. However, employees still need support outside of the traditional 9 to 5 even when there isn’t a pandemic.
As a company that has always served our members remotely, we know that some occupational categories are more likely to get stuck in a sedentary lifestyle. Other jobs may lack access to wellness resources or the time to practice good self-care. Some employees just need more personalized strategies to achieve health goals. Today, we’re outlining some of the top occupational categories that we’ve worked with, and why they benefit from a digital health coach.
The data: Many jobs require long hours sitting at a desk (or now that many employees are at home, at their kitchen table or on the couch). According to a 2017 study at the University of Warwick2, a longer time spent sitting during the day is significantly associated with a higher risk of heart disease and a larger waistline. An article in Scientific American3 documented that those who sit for more than four hours a day watching TV have a 46% increase in mortality rates when compared to those who sat for less than 2 hours watching television. Many of those in desk-ridden jobs may be glued to their chairs for eight hours a day or more. Increased time sitting is directly correlated with higher BMI and higher chronic diseases, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Why they need it: Thanks to smartphones and watches, we have little reminders that can tell us to stand more if we are in a predominantly sedentary job. However, those reminders are easier to push away if things get busy. A weekly call with a real human can be the extra push someone needs to get their body moving more. Plus, at Pack Health, we can integrate with your smart devices to include that info in your daily metrics.
The data: A recent study in Ergonomics4 investigated the workplace wellness of 1120 employees across 10 worksites. The study attempted to understand the correlation between employee wellness and industrial sector, job role, gender, and geography. The research found employees who worked in the private sector spent significantly more time sitting during the workday than those in the public sector. Additionally, overall sitting time was higher for the private sector due to additional weekend work.
Why they need it: In addition to encouraging a sedentary lifestyle, long working hours have been shown to increase levels of stress.5 Digital health coaching is a great solution for employees to fit in positive health behaviors while managing a busy schedule. Digital health coaches can provide sustainable strategies to identify opportunities, minimize barriers, and stay on track with specific, measurable goals.
The data: Professional drivers are essential personnel year-round, but in the wake of increased deliveries and surges of online ordering, individuals across the globe are relying on delivery drivers now more than ever. Professional transportation workers spend a majority, if not all, of their days, sitting. A 2018 meta-analysis6 of the health outcomes of a pooled sample of 3,665 professional drivers reported that approximately 46% of professional drivers were overweight and 11% were classified as obese. Approximately 20% of professional drivers in the study were reported to be smokers. The study also reported that professional drivers experience high levels of work-related stress. High work-related stress in transportation has been linked to poor mental health outcomes and risky behaviors behind the wheel.
Why they need it: Similar to private-sector workers, professional transportation drivers spend long hours sitting and generally have high-stress jobs due to factors such as traffic and unruly passengers. The pandemic has shown us how existing stress paired with feelings of uncertainty and fear of contraction can have serious impacts on mental health.7 The stakes are even higher when you factor in the safety risk of long hours behind the wheel.
In the day-to-day, transportation workers have unique limitations when it comes to resources and tools for positive health behaviors. Without reliable access to grocery stores, kitchens, or gym equipment, they need to plan ahead or get creative. A digital health coach can work with professional drivers’ schedules to reduce barriers. This can include providing personalized meal plans for eating healthy on the go or recommending exercises only using body weight.
The data: Prior to COVID-19, the CDC cited research8 supporting the concept that engagement at work contributes to employee satisfaction, safety, and job performance. Yet, according to Gallup’s 2016 State of the Workplace data, 31% of remote working employees spent 80% more of their time working away from co-workers. As many of us have shifted to remote work, we’re no stranger to the challenges that remote work presents. Although there are benefits to working remotely, including flexibility of time and space, remote workers named high levels of loneliness9 the biggest struggle of working remotely. A study from Blind found that over half of workers are struggling with loneliness during COVID-19.10
Why they need it: The COVID-19 pandemic will likely have a fundamental impact on how we live and work. With so many companies transitioning to remote work to prevent the spread of the virus, many may come out finding themselves incorporating more remote work opportunities into their long-term plan. Depending on their living situation, remote workers can go long periods of time without speaking to or seeing another human being, something that many of us are becoming more familiar with. A multitude of research has documented that human connection directly correlates to our health and happiness. Having a digital health coach gives remote workers a person to share their thoughts, experiences, and goals with. Plus, having a supportive partner who reaches out to the employee, not the other way around, provides structure and consistency to that support.
Article updated 5/1/2023.
- The Pack Health Team. Patient Pulse: COVID-19 and Daily Life at Work and Home. Published 2020. https://packhealth.docsend.com/view/yhkyasq
- Tigbe WW, Granat MH, Sattar N, Lean MEJ. Time spent in sedentary posture is associated with waist circumference and cardiovascular risk. Int J Obes (Lond). 2017;41(5):689-696. doi:10.1038/ijo.2017.30
- Levine J. Killer Chairs: How Desk Jobs Ruin Your Health. Scientific American. November 1, 2014. Accessed May 1, 2023. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/killer-chairs-how-desk-jobs-ruin-your-health/
- Kazi A, Haslam C, Duncan M, Clemes S, Twumasi R. Sedentary behaviour and health at work: an investigation of industrial sector, job role, gender and geographical differences. Ergonomics. 2019;62(1):21-30. doi:10.1080/00140139.2018.1489981
- WebMD Editorial Contributors. What to Know About Emotional Health. Reviewed October 25, 2021. https://www.webmd.com/balance/what-to-know-about-emotional-health
- Useche SA, Cendales B, Montoro L, Esteban C. Work stress and health problems of professional drivers: a hazardous formula for their safety outcomes. PeerJ. 2018;6:e6249. Published 2018 Dec 20. doi:10.7717/peerj.6249
- The Pack Health Team. Patient Pulse Special Report: COVID-19 and Mental Health. Published 2020. https://packhealth.docsend.com/view/5q8m5fm
- CDC Workplace Health Resource Center. Engaging Remote Employees in Their Health and Workplace Wellness Programs. February 29, 2020. Accessed May 1, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/initiatives/resource-center/case-studies/engaging-remote-employees.html
- Buffer. State of Remote Work 2018. Accessed May 1, 2023. https://buffer.com/state-of-remote-work/2018#benefits
- Robinson B. What Studies Reveal About Social Distancing And Remote Working During Coronavirus. Forbes. April 4, 2020. Accessed May 1, 2023. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bryanrobinson/2020/04/04/what-7-studies-show-about-social-distancing-and-remote-working-during-covid-19/?sh=30a79d49757e