Healthy employees are more productive – it’s as simple as that. And the good news is the office furniture you choose can boost your employees’ health and well-being.
The nature of many jobs means that office employees tend to be sedentary for a large part of their workday. There’s not much we can do about that, right? Not necessarily! Concerned employers can help in little and big ways – and one of the best is by providing options allowing employees to change position throughout the day. It’s a huge step toward promoting well-being in the workplace.
Over the last two centuries, our lifestyles and the way we work have radically changed. Our ancestors spent their workday mainly standing and walking, with breaks for sitting and relaxing. For much of today’s workforce, the situation is the complete opposite – we spend much of the workday sitting, with breaks for standing and walking if we’re lucky.
We have become primarily sedentary beings, with many adults spending 70% of their waking hours sitting. But our bodies are not designed to sit for extended periods of time, causing a number of health issues:
- Obesity and metabolic syndrome
- Increased blood pressure
- High blood sugar
- Excess body fat around the waist
- Abnormal cholesterol levels
- Increase in risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
According to Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic, the solution is in fact much simpler: sit less and move more. Just standing more improves health outcomes.
Companies are taking their employees’ health to heart by offering options designed to let them move and stand throughout the workday without disrupting productivity. The great news is that the right furniture can facilitate healthy changes in behavior. Here are just a few examples of ideas and furniture choices that let employees change their working position throughout the day – and encourage them to do so.
1. Standing meeting spaces
Standing meetings let employees who sit for the majority of the day break out of this sedentary work pattern. Standing meetings are usually shorter than seated meetings, encouraging efficiency and allowing everyone to get back to their tasks faster. Bistro-height tables and clusters of filing cabinets with laminate tops are some examples of products that can be used to create standing meeting spaces.
2. Shared standing workstations
Many employees use portable devices that let them work in different locations within the office throughout the day. Shared standing-height tables allow employees to switch workstations when they feel the need to change their work position.
3. Individual sit-stand workstations
Height-adjustable desks let the user easily change from sitting to standing position without interrupting their work or bothering other employees.
4. Bistro tables in cafeterias and break rooms
Bistro-height tables give employees the chance to stand during breaks. Stools can also be provided to let people take the weight off or stand, as they choose.
Some forward-thinking employers are taking the idea further, building a culture of health and well-being at the office. The following are some examples of workplace initiatives currently underway.
- Step it up with walking meetings. Walking meetings work best with just two or three people. Changing the way we meet can change the way we think and get the creative juices flowing!
- Encourage active breaks. By walking, stretching, getting some fresh air or even just standing up, employees are breaking the cycle of sitting at work. Make it easy for employees to plan their activity by mapping out walking routes near your workplace that take 10, 20, and 30 minutes. Artopex offers a 20-minute low-intensity yoga session once a week during the lunch hour to encourage active breaks.
- Encourage stretch breaks. Have employees in each department lead stretch or yoga breaks that everyone can do together. Employees at Artopex created a “Yoga at Your Desk” handout with 12 exercises employees can do at their workstation. Just a few minutes can make a big difference in focus and comfort!
- Sponsor a team-building activity such as a charity run/walk. Creating opportunities to be active with colleagues outside the work environment can build bonds and encourage active lifestyles while promoting good corporate citizenship.
- Bring in speakers for “lunch and learns.” Offer your employees information on healthy lifestyles outside the workplace during their lunch break, with topics such as physical exercise and healthy eating choices.
Finally, the most powerful part of any action plan is to lead by example. Seeing the company leadership participate in well-being initiatives is inspiring for employees, and providing a workplace environment that fosters a more active working life is an easy first step. Artopex is here to help, with products that encourage employees to change working positions throughout the day. From standing meetings to height-adjustable tables, Artopex has the right solution for their well-being.