Staying fit in a hybrid working environment: do you only need a puppy?

It’s a great time to stand still and realise what COVID did with my health at work in the last year. I had been travelling extensively for years, and suddenly  that stopped. But right at the beginning of the pandemic a brown labrador puppy became available, as his potential owners could no longer take care of him as they were both doctors at a hospital. So he became my buddy and walking friend. His name is Barna, which means ‘brown’ in Hungarian.

Having a dog around you when working is definitely a great benefit. You need to take walks at regular times, and to have a companion at your feet is just a great feeling. A decade ago, when visiting a startup in Silicon Valley, we were not only surprised about the number of dogs around but also that all dogs started barking at the same time with a lot of people on the phone in an open space. That is the other extreme, but I guess acceptable if you’ve just raised $200 million!

65% of all employees demand health-promoting measures from their employers, yet only 15% offer programs of the sort. Talent, especially new generations, are interested in a personalized, on-demand solution as part of their benefits package. Our fund, Taptrove Ventures, invests in early-stage B2B Saas companies focused on the future of work. So how can a distributed hybrid workforce be productive, engaged and healthy?

The corporate wellness market for 2019 was estimated at circa 50 billion (of which 30% was in Europe). The market is expected to grow with a CAGR of 7.4% to $66-99 billion. Players vary from pure fitness, yoga, mental health, nutrition and weight loss solutions to health-tracking hardware providers.

Taptrove Ventures recently invested in Humanoo. Humanoo is a holistic player, as it provides a complete solution for physical and mental wellbeing and nutrition.

Our belief is that companies will want to provide a holistic solution and not several point solutions to their talent. Integration with wearables, personalization and cashback or similar incentives is key for stickiness.

For each good investment case or supplier decision, it is key to prove the ROI of the solution. Everybody will confirm that if you feel healthy in your body and mind you are more productive. But how to make the correlation between exercising, meditation and healthy nutrition to better focus and decrease absenteeism is the challenging part. The correlation is complex, as so many factors play a role like working environment, private situation, and so on.  While right now business cases are made using employee survey data, we believe that more empirical methods will pop up in the coming years. What has been proven is that if activity and engagement levels go up, health is positively impacted. Most important is to change staff’s daily routines, and connect this data with other workdata (surveys and systems) to prove a sustainable impact on the way of working.

What has this got to do with my dog Barna, you ask? The dog changed my behavior because each morning I go for a long walk. As a result, I am relaxed when I start working. This is sustainable because the dog is there for the years to come. How can a corporate wellness solution be sustainable? If it is highly personalized to the needs of the individual, and if the team dimension comes into play, challenges are being created and experiences shared. As a team, we used the Humanoo app to do a daily breathing exercise, and we keep on sending challenges to each other. It is a great talking point. Especially in a distributed hybrid working environment like ours, it is a different way to connect.

And with regards to ROI, not everything can be explained in life, especially when everybody knows from their own experience that physical and mental exercises contribute to wellbeing, more focus, and creativity. Like a dog at your feet.

Thank you Barna for bringing this extra dimension to my life (and yes I will bring you into the office). With the additional yoga and fitness exercises and our team challenges, I feel much more connected to nature, body, mind and people. Looking forward to the journey ahead Humanoo!


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