Did you know that many of the benefits of strenuous workouts are cancelled out by sitting down for prolonged periods, as typically happens with desk-based jobs? And that sedentary behaviour is not only bad for your health, but for your ability to concentrate on your work, too? That means that no matter how active you and your employees are outside the office, encouraging everyone to incorporate regular movement into their office routine is a great way to ensure peak performance throughout the day. Here are a few ways to create a more movement-friendly workplace:
1. Create the Right Environment
You can set the scene for an active workplace strategy with an attractive and inspiring décor. Put some thought into how furniture and equipment is positioned and create welcoming break-room spaces and clean, well-lit stairwells that invite people to take the stairs instead of the lift. Let your employees know that you encourage their efforts to remain active throughout the working day and that it’s something everyone can do.
2. Make Movement Part of Your Daily Routine
If the idea of getting your staff to spend more time away from their desks appears counterintuitive, consider this: the longer you sit still, the slower your metabolism becomes. This decreases the flow of oxygen-supplying blood to your brain, which results in reduced concentration. Getting active reactivates your system, refocuses your concentration and sense of well-being, which actually results in higher overall productivity and lower rates of absenteeism and depression. This can be achieved through everything from taking a longer route to the photocopier, water cooler or toilet to walking over to a colleague to talk in person instead of telephoning or emailing them. Even if it’s just for a couple of minutes, getting up and walking around every 30 minutes or so, is all it takes.
3. Alternate Between Sitting and Standing
One of the simplest ways to get more active at the office is by carrying out normal sit-down tasks in different ways. For example, telephone calls and certain types of meetings can be conducted standing up or on-the-go. And with adjustable desks, alternating between sitting and standing to do computer work is an easily accommodated option. Standing up is beneficial because it requires muscle activity for balance, but also because other movement becomes more likely once you’re already on your feet. Most experts recommend a 50-50 sit-stand ratio, because standing for too long can put pressure on various body parts and, as the body gets tired, you may start to adopt bad posture.
4. Design Your Workstations for Individuals not Clones
When you are sitting down, are you doing so comfortably? Those one-size-fits-all workstations are responsible for a great deal of absenteeism, with more work days lost across Europe each year due to musculoskeletal causes than any other condition. Additionally, people who aren’t positioned comfortably are more prone to concentration loss and fidgeting, which can add up to almost 4 hours of unproductive time a week, on average. Fortunately, the availability of ergonomic workspace solutions means much of this can easily be prevented.
5. Organise Short Fitness Breaks for All
Incorporating organised fitness breaks throughout the week lets everybody get in on the action. As well as upping activity levels, these are great opportunities for people to get to know colleagues they might not otherwise mix with, which is beneficial for your company’s overall spirit and improved interdepartmental insights. Giving people the opportunity to sample different activities is great for stimulating the mind, too. You can try anything from short yoga sessions to walks around the immediate area.
6. Get Out of The Office
It’s not just your eyes that need regular screen breaks! A change of scenery is widely believed to help balance emotions, and walking outside also exposes the skin to sunlight, which induces production of vitamin D. People who work indoors all day can easily miss out on getting enough of this health-promoting vitamin. It’s easy to measure movement using pedometers, other activity monitors and smartphone apps. Internal incentive schemes that reward achievements can generate friendly rivalry which motivates everyone to do a little more.
7. Help Everyone to Stay Hydrated
Dehydration can lead to a whole host of problems that sap your staff’s productivity, including headaches, inattentiveness and even illness. Moreover, water cooler banter can help to foster closer working relationships. Ensure your workforce has access to cooled water and other beverages that aren’t loaded with unhealthy sugars, and take it upon yourself to encourage them to consume these drinks throughout the day.
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