We spend a large proportion of our time at work, so making sure that your staff have a suitable working environment is crucial to maximising productivity and efficiency levels in your organisation. And companies that are able to create a space that is comfortable and designed to meet the needs of its employees can expect to reap significant benefits.
The Risks of Sitting
However, meeting these needs is not always straightforward; even something as simple as sitting at a desk can bring problems. Sitting for long periods has been proven to be detrimental to people’s physical and mental health, and has even been linked with type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Given that British workers spend on average 35-40 hours sitting at their desk each week, simply turning up to work could be hazardous to their health.
Conversely, standing (in moderation) can be beneficial to people’s health, helping to burn more calories, lower sugar levels, reduce the risk of heart disease and prevent back pain. In fact, some research claims that standing for just three hours a day offers the same health benefits as running ten marathons a year! Spending some time on your feet each day is also good for mental health, leading to lower stress levels, greater energy and increased concentration.
Of course, the demands of a job mean that people are not always able to leave their desk to stretch their legs. One solution is to provide employees with sit-stand desks. These height-adjustable workstations enable staff to choose a desk height that is right for them, and allows them to seamlessly switch between sitting and standing throughout the day with minimal impact on their work.
As well as being good for employees’ health, this approach can also be good for the business, with the introduction of sit-stand desks improving productivity levels by almost 50% in some offices. What’s more, with healthier, happier employees, you are likely to see a significant drop in sickness and absenteeism.
When it comes to creating a comfortable work environment, sit-stand desks should be just one part of a larger picture. When people do have to sit, ergonomic chairs can help to minimise discomfort and reduce the risk of back problems, and, whether sitting or standing, a workplace assessment is always a good idea to ensure that items are positioned correctly on a desk and that employees have access to the right equipment.
The broader office also has an important part to play. Ensuring that the office is a comfortable temperature, providing comfortable break-out and socialising areas, and offering access to adequate, secure storage for employees’ belongings, such as smart storage lockers, can all play a part in helping to increase staff satisfaction and boost productivity.
These new ways of working and a greater focus on employees’ needs are all part of a wider culture shift in the workplace. Agile working and the flexible practices, such as hot-desking and remote working, that underpin it are growing in popularity with many British businesses.
It’s an ethos that encourages and enables employees to work where, when and how they like – whether that’s sitting or standing, in the office or from a coffee shop – and providing them with the necessary equipment and facilities to do this comfortably and efficiently.
And with happier employees equalling more productive employees, making staff comfort a business priority is a win-win for both companies and the people they employ.