I’ve worked in offices before and I liked my work, but I always noticed how hard it was on my body to sit all day and stare at a screen. I’d get headaches and back pain regularly, and often felt tired, sluggish and just generally unwell during my workdays. Most days, I went to the gym straight after work and noticed that my headaches and all the other issues I was experiencing at work would disappear after a good gym session. After going to the gym in the evenings, I felt refreshed and full of energy again. These own experiences combined with all the evidence proving that sitting all day is detrimental to our health leads to the conclusion that office work could easily be made less harmful by implementing a few easy changes.
Encourage lunch break activities
Instead of having lunch at the desk or just sitting down again in a break room, companies could encourage their employees to go for walks during lunch break, or even cooperate with exercise professionals to offer fitness or yoga classes during lunch time.
Encourage little 10-minute breaks regularly
Mostly, the lunch break and short toilet breaks are the only breaks that office workers take during the day, even if they would have a right to short additional breaks. Short 10-minute breaks about every two hours to stand up and take a few steps should be encouraged, as they will have people coming back to their desks and their work with a clear head and fresh energy.
Invest in adjustable desks for sitting and standing
Companies could consider investing in height adjustable desks that can be used for sitting and standing. Working on a desk like that, employees could still sit at their desks as normal, but would also have the chance to stand up for a while if they felt like it while still doing their work.
Get fresh air
The air in offices often isn’t the best, especially later in the day when the windows haven’t been opened. Opening the windows at regular intervals (for example during lunch time) ensures that fresh air is available which helps people feel better, and in combination with regular movement during break times can help prevent issues like headaches.
Make healthy snacks available
At my former office the company provided snacks for everyone, which was great. There were chocolate, crisps and soft drinks of course, but also healthier options like apples, bananas and nut mixes. Healthy snacks are a great option to help combat the afternoon slump while promoting long term health and building healthy habits.
I think it is important that every company invests in the health of their employees. In the long term, such investment benefits not only the employees but is equally beneficial to the company, especially if the investment is something as small as encouraging little breaks and walks. In addition to fewer absences due to illness, it can lead to fewer early pensions due to illness and a better and more positive office climate, which in turn increases employee satisfaction. All this can even increase the company’s popularity as an employer, therefore making it easier for the company to find the right people to grow their teams on demand. Encouraging office employees to spend a little less time sitting in front of their computer screens might seem counterproductive at first because it might seem like a loss of productivity, but employees who return to their tasks after a little break and getting a little movement in will be fresher, more focused and therefore more productive during time they spend at their desks than people who stay glued to their chairs all day but might only be able to focus properly for about half that time.