Have you ever heard of “tech neck”? These two little words, which are being mentioned more and more often, denote all of the neck, head and back pain that stems from poor posture in front of both computer and smartphone.
This syndrome is just one of the many sides of the (often) too sedentary lifestyle to which the average office worker is accustomed, and in the long run it can have even chronic negative consequences on one’s health.
The first step to avoid this must obviously be taken by each individual, but the company can also do its part by effectively promoting a more active and healthy working environment. In this guide we’ve collected some easy-to-implement strategies.
The impact of sedentary lifestyles on health
Before defining measures, it’s useful to identify exactly what the risks of sedentary work are.
Physical inactivity contributes to a wide range of health hazards, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and musculoskeletal problems. According to the World Health Organisation, insufficient physical activity is the 4th biggest risk factor for mortality worldwide.
Long periods spent sitting down, especially in non-ergonomic chairs, can lead to poor posture and reduced muscle strength, affecting the well-being and, above all, the health of employees.
To improve the situation, there is no need to schedule intensive workouts or hire personal trainers in the company, as many Silicon Valley companies do. Standing for 2-4 hours a day and walking at least 10,000 steps is enough to improve circulation, muscle tone and metabolism. There is no need for everything to take place during working hours: the important thing is that flexibility becomes part of the office too.
Designing an active work environment
An effective way to promote less sedentary lifestyles is to design workspaces that encourage movement.
Sit-stand desks, like Pop Ad, allow people to work both sitting and standing, depending on their personal preference and day-to-day necessities. Ergonomic office chairs with an AMS system, such as Denzel, on the other hand, ensure that the muscles of the spinal column continue to work even when seated, allowing the back to feel less stiff even after many hours.
Creating functional islands can also have a positive impact: allocating certain areas of the office to specific activities “forces” people to move from room to room, even to make simple video calls.
Promoting employee movement
Encouraging employees to take regular breaks and stretch during the working day is a concrete way of integrating exercise into the designated routine.
The implementation of wellness programmes and incentives can likewise contribute significantly to an active working environment. A simple implementation can start with corporate welfare, supplementing it with, for example, gym, swimming pool or various course memberships.
Many companies with city centre or suburban locations are also incentivising their employees to choose active modes of transport to get to work, such as walking or cycling. Employers more focused on sustainable mobility are equipping their premises with appropriate facilities, such as safe parking spaces for bicycles and scooters or even showers and changing rooms.
Flexibility, for example through hybrid workplaces, is also an incentive for physical activity: time spent commuting to and from the office can be turned into time for sport, housework or other errands that require movement.
There are many strategies to promote a less sedentary lifestyle in the workplace, but they can only be implemented by designing spaces and choosing furnishings in a specific way. The following step is to set a good example and incentivise people to follow it, thereby allowing the virtuous circle to begin.