Most of the employees today are bound to experience desk dysphoria, a state of profound unease, especially felt having spent too much time working at the desks.
Humans were not designed to sit 8 hours a day, 5 days a week glued to a computer screen. It has serious health ramifications, not to mention the decreased job satisfaction and dipping productivity levels that come along with them.
Daily activities, like commuting, doing sedentary work at the desk, and, then, lounging at home watching TV, add up to the general physical inactivity and proves to be hazardous to one’s physical and mental wellbeing in the long run.
According to Dr. David Agus, author of ‘A Short Guide to a Long Life,’ sitting five or more hours per day is as good as smoking 1.25 packs of cigarettes!
The HR has good enough reasons to come up with a planned strategy for their employees to be more mobile while working, for a sedentary lifestyle of the employees would not just lead to more sick leaves and them leaving but also into a slow death of the business itself.
Why HR Needs to Implement a ‘Keep moving’ Plan at the Workplace!
Here are a few ways to help guide the HR team to do just that along with heads-up information on how sitting for long hours impacts the employees.
Health Hazards Related to Sitting for Long Hours
Simply put, sitting is the new smoking, which comes with a host of negatives for the employees and the organisation as a whole. Here are some of the direct effects of a sedentary lifestyle on human health:
Physical inactivity impacts the breakdown of fats and sugars in the body, leading to weight gain. It reduces one’s energy expenditure, thereby increasing the fat accumulation in the body and slowly giving way to obesity.
People who sit for long hours have been found to be at 147 % greater risk of developing heart diseases when compared with people who keep moving. They also experience high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol.
Spending too much time sitting in front of the computer screens leads to a stiff neck, shoulder pain, and chronic joint pains. When one sits for too long, these muscles tend to become tight and short due to overstretching and straining. Joint pains are also caused by maintaining poor sitting posture, which leads to lower back pain.
Sitting for too long impairs tissue sensitivity to insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. This leads to excess sugar accumulating in the blood, and ultimately diabetes.
Those who sit for long hours have been found to experience anxiety disorders and depression, as exercise and movement boosts mental health while the lack of it does precisely the opposite. Even if one exercises regularly, sitting in one position for more than two hours counteracts the effects of exercise.
How to Implement a Mobile Workforce Plan
Now that we get the gist of why sitting for long hours is a strict no-no for your employees, we need to work out a feasible solution to the problem at hand in a manner that does not disrupt the organisation’s workflow and provides ample opportunities for employees to get up and get moving, obviously while also doing their work. Here are some ways to implement a mobile workforce plan:
Encourage walking meetings amongst small groups of people, as it is one of the best ways to help your employees stay active and deliver their best. Former Apple CEO, Steve Jobs held regular walking meetings to unblock creativity & work productively.
Physical movement, after all, tends to elicit one’s maximum attention. A change of scenery away from desks, mobiles, and laptops can open one’s mind and bring out innovative ideas, which is the whole agenda of conducting a meeting.
Discuss roadblocks, ways to overcome them, share updates, provide mentorship where needed, etc., but while conducting a walking meeting, which is easy and inexpensive. A twenty-minute walk outside the office building will let your employees breathe in some fresh air, get some exercise both mentally and physically and come back to work feeling rejuvenated.
Standing desks is another cost-efficient and effective alternative to the traditional desks requiring regular long hours of sitting, for they help an individual burn around 50 calories extra per hour. They not only help in improving one’s core strength but also maintain a good posture overall. Studies have shown that employees who alternate between standing and sitting during their work hours tend to lose weight over time, doing away with the problem of obesity. In fact, there are also various neurocognitive benefits associated with standing desks. Companies like Google and Facebook are making standing desks available for their employees. A study found that students who used standing desks experienced improvements in their memory and executive functions.
Re-engineer the Workplace:
Given the benefits, such as less sick leaves, improved productivity, better cognitive abilities, and numerous other health advantages associated with incorporating physical activity into a typical workday, an employer should not shy away from investing towards gearing a change in the overall work environment, where employees have more options for movement. Some examples include promoting yoga breaks and stretching activities during office hours, creating walking tracks in or around the office premises, etc. Another study conducted on a re-engineered workplace revealed that the employees lost weight, became more active, and the company’s revenue rose by almost 10% during this time. Some other ways to bring a change can be:
- Encourage the use of landlines instead of mobile phones.
- Use bounce balls, which help improve posture, for sitting.
- Use treadmills, which are an excellent way to workout.
- Hold classes on the importance of activity and the right nutrition.
Extreme caution needs to be adhered to while designing the office, especially if you want your employees to stay active. For example, build restrooms on a separate floor, which will encourage employees to climb up the stairs every two to three hours. Another strategy could be placing one common printer at the end of the office instead of setting separate printers at each desk so that the employees have to get up from their desks and travel a certain distance to get their printouts. Similarly, encourage employees to meet their colleagues in-person after they have been sitting for too long, instead of just emailing or calling them. These small approaches go a long way in promoting a fit lifestyle amongst employees.
Fit employees are happier employees; there is no doubt about that. In addition to executing the above ways of re-engineering the work environment, employers are going one step further to introduce fitness as a way to work in offices. Some creative ways in which they are doing so are:
- Giving discounted corporate gym memberships
- Including company gardens into office design
- Bike-to-work challenges
- Ping pong tables
These steps are helping employers promote an active lifestyle at work, which is ultimately leading to better employee engagement and satisfaction levels and a strengthened corporate culture.
In the technology-driven workplaces today, where it takes seconds for online messages to reach the entire company, the importance of physical movement has been compromised. The HR department needs to revive the same and come up with a ‘keep moving’ plan for the welfare of the employees and the organisation right away!