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Great Glen House

Great Glen is the Headquarters of Scottish Natural Heritage located on the outskirts of Inverness and on the Great Glen Way.

An award winning purpose built building offering quality physical activity opportunities for the building’s 250+ residents who are employees from SNH, The Crofters Commission, Paths for All and The Moray Firth Partnership.

How It Started

Great Glen is the Headquarters of Scottish Natural Heritage and is located on the outskirts of Inverness and on the Great Glen Way. It houses 250+ employees from SNH, The Crofters Commission, Paths for All and The Moray Firth Partnership.

Partners Involved

At the design stage a number of facilities were planned that would result in quality physical activity opportunities for the building’s residents.

A gym was installed with a range of cardiovascular machines, weights, mats and equipment. This was accompanied by spacious and modern changing facilities, including disabled facilities. A large secure bike storage area was also built, along with a cycle path leading from the main roads from Inverness to the building.

There is a building user group made up of staff based within Great Glen House. This group contributes to the running of the facilities including changing rooms and bike storage and feeds in comments and ideas from users.


There are a number of activities, events and facilities on offer to Great Glen House employees. The gym and changing rooms have already been mentioned. Volunteer staff are trained to provide gym inductions which are available to anyone wishing to use the gym and a nominal amount of £10 a month is paid for the upkeep of the equipment.

There is also a weekly session of circuit training called ‘Mud Fit’ which is run by volunteers in the building and open to all. A monthly handicap race, the Hill Top Challenge’ takes advantage of the excellent paths and countryside surrounding the building and includes runners and walkers.
Other sessions include the ‘Duck Pond Dash’ and the ‘Ring of Fire’ incorporating different training techniques and relay events to suit all running abilities.

Two volunteers run Jog Scotland Jogworks groups every week and since the groups started in 2008 almost 60 staff have participated in the sessions, many of whom were completely new to exercise and running. The group was highlighted as an example of best practice in Jog Scotland’s newsletter, Stride and has been nominated for the Jog Scotland Workplace Group of the Year. Sprint sessions are also arranged in the evenings taking advantage of the running track in Inverness.

Badminton is a popular activity with staff with several courts being booked after work on a weekly basis. Pilates and yoga classes have also been offered to those working in the building.

Many people also go mountain biking at lunchtime and after work and there are also weekend rides organised by enthusiastic cyclists. SNH participate in National Bike week by providing a bike breakfast for employees cycling to work.

A walking group regularly goes out at lunchtime and pedometers have been offered to staff to encourage them to increase the amount of steps they do on a daily basis. Staff based in the building have also completed Paths for All’s Workplace Walk Leader Training Course.

There are regular seasonal events arranged such as a Santa fun run at Christmas called the Christmas Cracker Challenge.

Results and Impact

The promotion of all these opportunities to be more physically active has resulted in a culture of activity and health promotion within the building. It has also resulted in colleagues getting to know each other better in a more informal environment and the obvious benefits of a more relaxed, less stressed and more focused workforce.

The facilities are a key benefit to staff and prospective staff which helps to retain staff and encourage recruitment.

The benefits are not formally monitored but qualitative evidence from users reinforces the benefits listed here and prove that it is a real asset for everyone working in the building and of course to their employers.

Lessons Learned

The excellent facilities in Great Glen House were able to be incorporated as the building was purpose built for SNH and have without a doubt contributed to the frequency and number of activities on offer.

It is however the enthusiasm and commitment of staff who volunteer to provide opportunities and support for physical activity that is the driving force behind getting more people more active at work.

If organisation’s management teams recognise and support these volunteers then a culture shift is possible in any workplace. The scope and variety of opportunities on offer is truly innovative and provide something for everyone, no matter how physically active they are or would like to be.

What's next for the project?

The activities on offer are available all year round and obviously taking into account the Highland weather and seasons, there are peaks and troughs in participation. This is tackled by promotional posters being displayed on the back of all toilet doors. These posters are refreshed at regular intervals and remind staff what is on offer and how to get involved.

Heavy use sometimes caused issues in the changing facilities but these are resolved through user consultation and input from the building user group.

It has been recognised that there are some members of staff that do not feel able to participate, thinking they are not fit enough. More needs to be done to encourage these people to increase their physical activity, one way that this can be tackled is through development of the walking groups.

The activities on offer are fully sustainable as they are run entirely by volunteers and there are no costs involved. These key members of staff need to be rewarded and recognised and being nominated for a PAHA award is a worthy acknowledgement of their commitment.



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Lead Contact Name

Melissa Wall


Chief Executive’s Group Officer


Scottish Natural Heritage


Great Glen House, Leachkin Road, Inverness, IV3 8NW

Phone Number

01463 725005

Email Address


Great Glen House Leachkin Road Inverness IV3 8NW

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Copyright 2009 NHS Health Scotland