How to Make Work Healthier: Move It!

How sedentary is your work?

If you’re like many office workers, you probably wish you could be more active, maybe spend less time sitting. But, work keeps most of us at our desks. We may have a cell phone, maybe a tablet or laptop, so you’d think we could be fairly mobile. But most workers aren’t.

From The Steelcase Global Report; a major new study of office workers in 17 countries, shows that office workers use fixed technology (desktop computers, landline phones, etc.) twice as much as mobile devices (smartphones, laptops and tablets). In fact, we found 86% of offices have landline phones, and just 39% are equipped with cell phones. A full 80% of offices have desktop computers vs. 39% with laptops.

As a result, many workers are desk-bound. On average we spend 5.7 hours a day sitting, according to a 2013 study. But very few people sit for long stretches at a time. Most get up frequently to attend meetings, collaborate with colleagues, grab a coffee, etc. Studies show we get up from our chairs every 8 to 10 minutes.

Another recently published study, this one of workers in Britain over 16 years, found no link between sitting and mortality. The researchers recommend being cautious in emphasizing sitting as a risk factor for mortality separate from the effect of physical activity.

This is good news: Sedentary work is less worrisome than we may have previously imagined. But, this does not mean we should not look for ways to introduce more activity into our lives at work – in fact many workers are demanding it.

HOW TO CREATE A MORE ACTIVE WORKPLACE

Provide an ecosystem of spaces.

To create a workplace that promotes activity and movement, it’s critical that you provide employees with a variety of spaces each designed to support different types of work. People at work need to focus, collaborate, rejuvenate, socialize and learn throughout their day. No single space can support these diverse needs.

The workplace should be designed as an ecosystem of interconnected zones and settings that are destinations where people have choice and control over where and how they work. Not only does this allow movement throughout the day, according to findings in the Steelcase Global Report, workers are more highly engaged when they can choose from a range of spaces that best support the work they are doing.

Researchers recommend a range of 2 to 4 hours of varied movement —standing,walking and other activities— in a typical 8-hour day. For example, Allan Hedge, director of Cornell University’s Human Factors and Ergonomics programs, suggests this mix: in each half-hour sit for 20 minutes, stand for 8 minutes (longer and you may start to lean, which can lead to musculoskeletal problems), and move around and stretch for two minutes.

For more information on workplace ergonomics and the full line of Steelcase Office Furniture products, contact AFD Office Furniture. AFD provides comprehensive sales, design, consulting, financing and much more. Contact one of our specialists to find out how to make your office environment healthier and more productive.
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