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Nokia Exercises for Both the Heart and the Mind

While most people are aware that regular physical activity lead to an improved quality of life – making you happier, more energized, and improving sleep – it also enhances focus at work and boosts energy levels after a workday.
The pandemic, with its increase in remote working, certainly granted greater freedom in many respects. However, Nokia in Kista also noticed some adverse health effects.
Interview with: Daniel Widh.
Reading time: 5 min.
Daniel Widh is in charge of sales at Nokia.

Daniel Widh, the sales head at Nokia, shares:

“During the pandemic, both motivation and unity took a hit. Additionally, our employee surveys revealed that many found their jobs more stressful and, in fact, ended up working longer hours, even though they saved commuting time by working from home. It seemed harder for them to separate work from leisure.”

This observation initiated the collaboration with We+, a health challenge named “Nokia Active Together”. Daniel continues:

“We wanted to find a health initiative to reinforce unity in the office. Beyond the social aspect, we aimed to assist our employees in engaging with regular exercise, to reduce stress, replenish energy, keep the mind sharp, and prevent illnesses.”

We+ is suitable for everyone – from beginners to elite athletes.

At Nokia’s office, there’s a broad mix of employees, from diverse backgrounds and with varied attitudes to training – ranging from beginners to elite athletes. Many are also middle-aged, so the joint exercise activities needed to be adjusted according to physical capabilities.

“Many fitness apps and team activities are primarily targeted at elite athletes, but we wanted a concept motivating for everyone – not just for those running ultramarathons. The We+ model has suited us very well,” says Daniel Widh.

Twice a week workouts

86% of the participants exercised at least twice a week, likely resulting in increased focus and productivity.

Raised exercise level

Participants increased their exercise levels by 58% and on average, exercised 4.6 times per week.

Physical activity

On average, participants exercised 352 minutes a week, far exceeding WHO’s stringent recommendations of 150 minutes for a healthy life.

Exercise is the world’s best medicine.

Knowing that physical activity can prevent stress, depression, concentration and memory issues, and brain aging, makes the decision to provide health-promoting activities an easy one for Nokia. Research indicates that exercise results in cost savings for companies due to reduced absenteeism and lesser rehabilitation requirements. Nokia undertakes several initiatives to promote well-being and health, both physically and mentally.

Besides offering health promotion benefits to all employees, Nokia also provides health checks and preventative measures to detect risks before anyone’s health deteriorates. Various activities are organized to promote both health and community, where “Nokia Active Together” was one of them. When surveys indicated elevated stress levels during the pandemic, all employees were offered a “recharge day” to encourage reflection and exercise time.

“Many exercise apps and team activities mainly target elite athletes, but we wanted a concept that was motivating for everyone – not just those running ultramarathons. The We+ approach has been a perfect fit for us.”


/Daniel Widh

Miniteams motivated employees to exercise

Many of Nokia’s Swedish employees work in global teams, and some have managers abroad. To foster unity and a collective spirit, all employees in Sweden were grouped into smaller teams of about 8-10 members, aimed at addressing matters pertinent to all employees in Sweden or concerns related to the Kista office.

“The team divisions were already in place. Every team also had a representative in the Swedish management team, so we first educated the leaders who were then responsible for introducing We+ to their teams and pushing them to give their best,” explains Daniel Widh.

The statistics display impressive results.

At Nokia, participants cheered each other over 3000 times with likes, comments, photos, and videos, proving We+ was well-received.

They exercised an average of 4.6 times a week. For reference, A study shows that 42% of the population in EU countries exercise less than once per week and 24% never exercise.

Participants increased their exercise levels by 58% on average. 86% of them exercised at least twice a week, leading to increased focus and productivity. On average, participants exercised 352 minutes a week, which are indeed positive numbers.

24% worked out once a week or less before We+ started, and only 5% remained in this group during the activity.

“We managed to engage many who otherwise seldom or never exercise. It’s significant and a step towards a healthier lifestyle for our employees,” concludes Daniel Widh.

Read more about Nokia’s work with sustainability and well-being