Studies prove that exercising on the clock increases productivity. What happens if you increase the dose to three hours of mandatory physical wellness time? Swedish company Icebug wants to find out.
For the shoe company Icebug, sustainability is a cornerstone at all levels. Icebug is the world's first climate-positive shoe company and leads the way towards a more sustainable footwear industry. However, the accessibility aspect is not applied solely to product and production. The company has taken it further and introduced sustainability even for employees in the form of three physical wellness hours a week – during working hours.
– The health and well-being of those who work at Icebug is important for creating sustainability on an individual level, says Lhina Segerbo, People & Culture Manager at Icebug. Moving and getting out into nature not only makes you feel better, it also seems to help with concentration, memory, creativity and stress levels.
The basis of the initiative is that Icebug wants to live as they preach. They want to inspire people to get out into nature and move. It comes naturally to the brand’s core beliefs to let the whole company exercise during working hours and to be a role model in this regard. This is mandatory when you work at Icebug – but in no way is it about performance. Icebug is uninterested in whether you have a six pack or what your mile split time is – it’s about giving the brain the ability to function as well as possible.
– It's not an opinion that training makes you feel better while doing a better job. It's a fact. Of course, we want our staff to feel as good as possible, and if it can at the same time make us create more value for the company, it is a fantastic combination, says Lhina Segerbo.
Most people at Icebug live an active life and take responsibility for their health regardless of this on-the-clock exercise time. However, many are also parents of young children, which means that prioritizing their own physical training is not always easy. The simplification of the everyday puzzle is a benefit that is most celebrated among the staff.
– Sit in the feeling of being able to leave work three days a week knowing that the training for the day is completed. It makes it very easy for many of us, says Lhina Segerbo.
The wellness hour is scheduled into the work week. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the office closes between 11 am and 12 pm. Employees then choose what activity they want to practice and whether they want to do it on their own or together with others. Icebug is a strong proponent of walking and running as there are many documented positive effects of being outdoors. Employees can also use the training room in the office for yoga or weight training.
The mandatory wellness time has given clear results at Icebug. In the latest employee survey, 92% of employees said that they feel they have an increased productivity and more energy since the exercise time was introduced. 92% also answered 'yes' to the question whether it is now easier to put together the life puzzle.
– We also see that our scheduled training sessions play a social role, as they give the staff a chance to socialize in an informal environment. This has led us to get to know each other better and thus also be able to cooperate better in and between our teams, says Lhina Segerbo.
Icebug has exceptional conditions for wellness. In 2017, the company moved their office to the town of Jonsered, which is situated in the middle of a nature reserve outside of Gothenburg, Sweden. Just steps from the office doors, staff can run or walk trails through the forest. Icebug also provides their shoes for employees to borrow or test out. In connection with the move, they also invested in proper changing rooms, washing machines, a sauna and a yoga studio.
– For us, this is the next natural step in being a sustainable company and a responsible employer. We are happy to share our lessons and hope that more companies want to follow suit. It is undoubtedly something that the whole community would benefit from, says Lhina Segerbo.
Icebug does not only create wellness for its employees. The company also has several events. Icebug has created these from doing what the staff think is the most fun, and then they invite others to join. One good example of this is the trail running group Forest Femmes. This community was created to let women run the forest together. To find news trails and to be able to experience the forest in a safe and fun way. Forest Femmes started in Gothenburg but is now available in several cities and countries. You can find more information about Forest Femmes here: https://icebugx.com/forest-femmes/