A great deal has been documented in recent years about the impact of sitting on the body, yet employers have been slow to connect the dots between extended sitting and the physical health of employees.
Given that absenteeism costs UK businesses more than £14 billion every year, improving employee health and well-being can have a positive impact on employee productivity and engagement – not to mention a firm’s finances.
Office environments traditionally are sedentary and companies often don’t even realise that it’s getting in the way of promoting a healthy working culture. So what can organisations do to make the office environment less sedentary and take a more active approach to wellbeing at work?
Below are some recommendations and advice for a healthier workplace from John Thompson, CEO at User Replay. Thompson has used sit-stand technology in his office for a number of years and found it helped him maintain his activity levels.
- Get out more
Simply taking a walk, or going for a run on one of your breaks can help you easily add activity to your day. Getting outside has the added advantages of moving you away from your screen and into the sunlight, which can help clear your head and make you more productive.
As Thompson has experienced; “Many of the User Replay team go out for a run at lunchtime, and I encourage everyone to take even small steps to increasing their mobility while they are in the office.”
- Walk and talk
If you can’t get out, walking around while making phone calls or when you are having routine meetings with colleagues can be easy ways to add more activity in your day. Thompson encourages his staff to do so and explains, “I genuinely believe there are both health and performance benefits in being more active around the office whenever you can.”
- Take a stand
If getting away from your desk is too much to ask, you could look into technologies such as sit-stand desks. Thompson himself was an early adopter, having originally used products from Ergotron as part of a healthy regime. Thompson estimates that he spends half the time that he is at his desk standing, equating to around one third of his total working day.
- Optimise your time
There is a strong link between productivity and being more mobile. A recent study shows a 46 per cent increase in productivity among employees with desks that allowed them to stand or sit. Productivity like this not only benefits employers, but employees as more tasks are completed to a better quality within the working day, reducing workplace stress.
Standing more in the office can also help you feel more involved, for example taking the time to walk and talk to colleagues rather than emailing them. As Thompson said, “I feel more engaged in what is going on around the office, and I have also noticed that my energy levels remain good throughout the day. Sitting down far less plays a huge part in creating these important effects.”
An active office environment delivers long term benefits, and those that make a commitment to move and stand more, feel better and work more effectively. According to Thompson, “Getting out of the sitting habit is something that everyone who works in an office environment should strongly consider.”
Whether it’s long-term health benefits that are important to you, or just having more energy and focus during your time in the office, something as simple as standing up can have a dramatic and lasting impact.
The long-term health benefits associated with sedentary work and lifestyles, often referred to as ‘sitting disease’, may be one of the most unanticipated health threats of our modern time.
Organisations need to help their employees become more active in the workplace in order to promote better wellbeing. Dramatic changes aren’t required - even small adjustments can make a big difference.
Betsey Banker, Vertical Wellness Manager, Ergotron
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