People are not stationary creatures. Many of us spend a lot of our time sitting, from leaving our beds in the morning to sitting down for that cup of coffee and having our morning breakfast to driving or getting the public transportation to work to sit on our office chairs for most of the day, maybe a half an hour to an hour lunch break and you’re still sitting until it’s time for you to pack up and drive home to have dinner and watch the news or your favourite TV show. For some, you can still squeeze in an hour at the gym or an hour jogging but that still doesn’t undo the eight to twelve hours you just did sitting at your desk, on your lunch break and in the car going to and from work and sitting on the couch watching TV.
It is not in our nature to be desk-bound and live a sedentary lifestyle which is why a lot of companies and organisations emphasise the importance of designing good breakout areas for their employees. It is now a responsibility of the office management to plan a space that will meet human needs and will foster good communication amongst colleagues and to have office furniture that is not only long-lasting but should also plan further for improved ergonomics to cater to your employees’ physical well-being.
The human frame of mind can not function when we just sit idle for hours in the course of the day. It has been shown that sitting too much is worse than not exercising enough. Excessive sitting has its dangers and its repercussions have been discussed for decades. From weight problems to mental health problems to cardiovascular diseases, too much sitting has been found to trigger poor health.
Studies have shown that sitting for long hours is linked to the following:
- Lowered metabolism which can lead to obesity
- A higher blood pressure
- Increased risk of back pain
- A higher risk of heart disease
According to Andrea LaCroix at the University of California in San Diego, it has been linked to cardiovascular events like heart attack, heart disease death, overall death and death from cancer.
So, where does that leave you as an office manager when planning for your office? It is your duty to keep in mind the health of your employees, both physical and mental. Giving your employees the right office chairs to sit on with ergonomic features such as lumbar support, headrest, armrests, swivel function, adjustable height and the list goes on is a must. This goes along with giving them not just your ordinary office desks too because working all day in the office can wreak havoc to your posture which will leave you aching all evening. Adjustable height desks should be considered which will offer you maximum comfort and flexibility allowing you to move as opposed to sitting over lengthy intervals of time.
Lack of movement is the problem when sitting at a desk working in an office 8-9 hours, 5 days a week and the things mentioned above are only two of the multiple solutions to the problem at hand. Having a cosy breakout area with soft seating can help too. Getting up from that chair to go to that designated break area is good because it reduces your sitting time. If your employees really cannot take that 5-minute break away from their monitors, perhaps look into investing or getting sit/stand desk mounts. Standing will give them that welcome break even if they are still working away.
Movement is the solution and it is important to reduce our sitting time. Our bodies were designed to move and if we don’t move, our muscles won’t work as well as we need them to. Another option to consider for the executives and the managers or those working from home is the kneeling chair. It is the latest innovative chair that was designed purely to change your posture while you’re seated and is meant to reduce your lower back strain. Originally designed by Opsvik back in 1979, the kneeling chair tilts your pelvis forward which encourages a natural upright spine. The angle with which your body is positioned strengthens your core muscles and improves circulation. It may be an unconventional choice however it gives you the freedom to move your body even whilst sitting which is something you should take into account to improve your health in the office.
Whatever solution you choose, break your sitting-at-your-work-desk-all-day routine by moving a little or investing in pieces of office furniture and give yourself a comfortable workspace to improve your health. Remember, a healthy office is a happy office.