There are in excess of 10 million office workers trapped sedentary behind their desk in the UK. Despite having the latest gadgetry upon our wrists, celebrating us hitting that holy grail of 10,000 steps per day, most of us are a long way away from the health-promoting, physically active lifestyles of our forefathers.
Suffering from neck, arm, wrist or back pain, even bloating and swelling of the ankles, can all be attributed to our daily lives being spent at an incorrect angle at our office desk. These issues are very real long-term health threats and should be taken seriously in how we work today and how we expect the shapes of our bodies to appear in the future.
We have known for a significant number of iOS updates that the quality of the office chair, the angles of knees, hips, elbows and shoulders are important. That we should place significant time, effort and money behind ensuring that the office environment stops our team members from hunching awkwardly over their keyboard, straining to see the screen or twisting to communicate with their co-workers. But what can be done to promote the health of our workforce whilst ensuring that productivity doesn’t dip through 2-hour enforced morning yoga sessions with a chai tea latte and cold-pressed goji berries is the staple office lunch of choice?
A study as early as 2008 estimated that 8.8million working days were lost due to repetitive strain injuries, back pain and other work-related injuries suffered whilst sitting still. Is it therefore so hard to engage with the ‘sitting is the new smoking’ warning from the Health and Safety Executive?
Height adjustable desking and seating is the primary quick-fix for office managers. Long gone are the days when the 6ft 3” worker could work on the same equipment provided for their co-worker measuring a foot and a half shorter. And in addition, standing desks are becoming equally popular, enabling users to either change the height of their desk during the day to alter positions or move to another area of the room where high desks are fixed. Remember when Chris Moyles’ first play with his adjustable desk in the radio one studio? We may all have been gently shuffled along to Radio 2 or beyond by now, but the office managers at R1 certainly had the right idea.
Smaller PC and laptop options, flat screens, sharing screens from the laptop to a wall mounted smart TV and cloud technologies are all providing more efficient use of space and flexibility for working teams. Bluetooth ear plugs to stop the phone-shoulder squeeze and the new acceptability of ergonomic backpacks to carry your tech evenly across two shoulders all add to the solution and it is vital that company bosses are leading this serge from the front as opposed to stooping over their Sincair ZX Spectrum.
At Stanway Interiors, when we are working with you to understand the requirements of our office teams in their daily working lives, we will ensure that your office designs and refurbishments are created to minimize any office-based injury risk. Ensuring that your team is well trained on how to use the equipment you provide and adhering to these simple steps will also help keep your team healthier in the short term. As well as instigating a team-wide 5km run over lunchtime of course! Here are our top tips to office fitness.
- Work with your chair close to the desk, your feet flat on the floor at all times, and your knees at a right angle. Remove high-heeled shoes when sitting at the desk and if height is an issue, invest in a footrest.
- Sit with the base of your back pushed gently into the back of the chair, leaning against the backrest at all times. Most chairs can be fixed into position as opposed to lying you horizontal as soon as any pressure is put against the back of it!
- Invest in a lumbar support for the small of your back if your core stability means your back comes away from the chair as you sit upright. If this is the case, engaging in 10 minutes of core stability exercises every day will provide further insurance against lower back pain.
- Relax your shoulders, elbows and wrists. Keep elbows at a relax 90 degrees whilst typing. If you feel your shoulders creeping up toward you ears as you type, lift your chair higher. This may therefore mean you require a footrest under the desk for your feet to remain flat. Additionally, your wrists should be in line with your forearms to keep stress on the joints to a minimum.
- Crossing your ankles and/or legs is banned! Start up a ‘swear tin’ and fine your team if they are caught in these most unhealthy of leg positions.
- Use the armrest and lean back whilst on the phone, or use a headset to answer calls.
- Hang your arms by your sides for 30 seconds every 20 minutes and stand up at least once an hour to take a minute or so to walk about. Taking calls whilst walking is a good use of this time if the cord allows.
- Consider walking meetings out of the office if note taking is at minimum levels. Even a short 5-minute stroll once a day is better than nothing at all.
- Take lunch away from your desk. Not only will the desk be cleaner, your co-worker who is a misophonia sufferer will put down the voodoo doll and you will return to a project with a fresh set of eyes for even the shortest of breaks.
- Of course the very best plan would be to engage Stanway Interiors to develop an office fit out which ensures you have the happiest, healthiest workforce around. We can even find storage for those yoga mats at a push!