In today’s society, people are living increasingly sedentary lifestyles. This is also the case in work environments, with more and more people engaged in office-based jobs. Worryingly, sedentary behaviour is known to have negative impacts on an individual’s health – with research showing a 112% increase in risk of diabetes and a 147% increase in risk of cardiovascular problems – and their productivity in the workplace.
In a typical working day, an office worker might drive to work, sit at their desk most of the day, drive home again and potentially spend the evening sat on the sofa, resulting in the majority of their day being sedentary. And sustained periods of sitting takes its toll on people’s brains as well as their bodies, with reduced levels of alertness, accuracy and creativity being widely reported.
Fortunately, simple changes can be made to reduce the risks to your employees’ health (and, consequently, to your business) of what is being commonly referred to as sitting disease. Taking steps to get your people moving gets their minds moving too, which enables tasks to be completed to a higher standard and more efficiently, and reduces workplace stress.
1. Be aware
People are so used to being sat their desks as part of their work routine, they often don’t think about working in a different way. Encouraging your employees to become more aware of how long they sit for at any one time is the first step to implementing small changes that will make a big difference.
2. Be updstanding
Standing up gives people’s stabilising postural muscles an immediate low-level workout. There are many opportunities in an office environment to increase the amount of time people spend standing up, including when making a phone call, discussing work with colleagues or even when holding meetings.
At Procol, when we plan professional office environments we often advocate a use of space that encourages people to get up from their desks and move around in order to interact with their colleagues. In addition, the increasing popularity of sit/stand desks enable people to alternate between sitting down or standing up while undertaking more time-consuming tasks.
3. Be reminded
It’s easy to slip back into the old habit of sitting for long periods, so setting up alerts or reminders within an online calendar or smartphone diary will help encourage people get into – and stay in – the routine of regular standing.
To make the change from permanent sitting to regular standing an easier one, suggest to your staff that they gradually increase the amount of time spent standing during the working day. Start with short but regular intervals and build up – for example, aim to stand for 10 minutes of each hour during the first week, and build up to 30 minutes per hour over the following month.
For advice on everything from ergonomic seating and sit/stand desks to planning a working environment that encourages greater productivity and employee wellbeing, please get in touch.