Everyone who’s ever worked in an office knows that the desk is the nemesis of a healthy work environment. It’s no coincidence that the word comes from the Italian word for butcher’s table because who hasn’t felt like they’re on the chopping block when sitting at their desk all day without a break.
Chained to a Desk
Every morning during rush hour, you’ll find the streets and stations bustling with people making their way to work. Some walk, some cycle, some take public transport. But once they clock in, that’s where the movement ends.
After saying goodbye to their feet and fresh air for the next 8 hours, and switching on their computers, everyone is thinking one thing: “I wish I didn’t have to sit here all day.”
But what can businesses do to make working life more active and healthier for their employees? What alternatives are there to working at a desk all day?
While we know that the desk won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, we’ve thought up a few ways for you to keep your employees moving throughout the day.
Consider the Standing Desk
We’d be hard-pressed to find a way to totally remove desks from the office, but the idea of a standing desk has become popular in recent times and is already being used by many companies across the world. It allows people to work on their feet rather than sat in a chair, which keeps them more awake and alert, encouraging further movement throughout the day. If someone is already up, they’re more likely to walk around and keep moving!
Standing or sit-stand desk also goes a long way towards tackling two of the most major workplace issues – presenteeism and musculoskeletal problems. They are also moving with the times, as many employers utilise these desks to support flexible working patterns such as staggered shifts or work from home days.
Make Going Out for Lunch A Priority
Staring at a screen all day can turn our brains into mush. Taking a break is hugely beneficial for mental health and wellbeing. Lunch is a good – and essential – opportunity to socialise and clear the mind. However, many employees are not using this time to its fullest potential, instead opting to eat a sandwich at their desks.
Encourage an office culture where employees feel motivated to head outside and walk around during the lunch break. A brisk walk and a quick change of scenery will do wonders for the mood and health in both the short- and long-term. You can also encourage employees to squeeze in a quick gym session to get the blood flowing.
Even when they’re not sat at a desk, much of your employees’ working day is spent standing still. Whether it’s waiting by the photocopier or brewing a pot of coffee, movement within the office is often limited. But it is essential for workplace wellness and productivity.
We suggest transforming brief moments of inactivity into more enjoyable physical escapes. Spend the time stretching or doing some yoga or other standing exercises. And if you’re waiting for the lift – take the stairs instead! Quick shocks to the system recharge your mind and keep you on your toes.
Competitions are a good way to motivate yourself and others. They also add a social dynamic to wellness in the workplace. Employers can organise weekly running groups or yoga classes before work. You can also set up a table where employees can track their daily number of steps while at work and choose weekly winners.
Incentivising fitness and a healthier lifestyle will motivate more employees to get involved. Quirkier options are also available which will encourage team bonding. For example, you could make it a rule that every employee has to do 10 star-jumps every hour. This may not be for everybody but it’s just one idea.
Staying Active in the Workplace
These are just a few easy ways that employers can encourage their team to lead a more active lifestyle at work. Moving around during the day is vital to maintaining both one’s physical and mental health. Frequent breaks from work and from sitting at a desk are also key to keeping our brains fresh and alert. Taking time out also has a positive knock-on effect on productivity.
By deploying these techniques at work, you will find that your employees feel fresher, more energised and more focused. You will nurture a healthier, livelier team who are more willing and able to put their all into their work.
Did your team celebrate National Fitness Day? For more great ideas on how to encourage an active lifestyle in the workplace, visit their official website. You can also contact our team at Vintage Health for ideas and inspiration for advice on the most effective strategies to motivate your team.