Most of us have a primarily sedentary job that forces us to sit most of the day. A new study from Australia's VicHealth suggests that employers should proactively encourage workers to stand more at work. Doing so would save the Australian economy some $11 billion every year — that's the cost of sitting-induced injuries like musculoskeletal disorders, which represent between 15 and 22 percent of sick leave there.
"This isn't just about standing up," warned David Dunstan, an associate professor at the Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute. "It's about being encouraging to move around more frequently, and not having everyone just sit around all day. We need to have more activity in the workplace."
Read on for five ways managers can help employees stand more at work.
- Enable face-to-face chats rather than instant messages or email. The simple act of getting up and walking over to a colleague's desk to chat is not only more efficient than digital forms of communication, it also gives the employee a brief bit of downtime, which could spark creativity.
- Install a visible water cooler. This visual cue will hopefully encourage employees to hydrate well and often, which forces them to stand up and walk around.
- Host standing meetings. An added benefit of standing meetings is that they incentivize attendees' interactions to be concise and germane, boosting productivity.
- Encourage exercise balls, walking desks and adjustable workstations. By encouraging active desk work via standing workstations, treadmill desks and exercise balls rather than standard desks and chairs, managers can subtly reinforce their commitment to health and wellness.
- Institute activity breaks. Regular activity breaks can boost creativity, improve health and decrease stress. While you may not have the space or resources for a dedicated game or exercise room, employees could take walking brainstorm meetings around the block or jet out for 10 minutes of stair-climbing to beat the afternoon lull.
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