While pitching the new Apple Watch, slated to hit the market later this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook made headlines by commenting that many doctors believe sitting to be the next cancer, as it can contribute to serious health issues.
The watch, outfitted with a feature that will remind its wearer to get up and move, speaks to recent concerns about sedentary habits as well as reports of “text neck.”
Indeed people in offices today are sitting too much or in ways that hurt their bodies and physicians routinely point to movement as a solution for improved health.
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Here are four options to consider:
1. Supply an office chair built to support work.
For ongoing research, done by my parent company, Steelcase, more than 11,000 workers around the world had been surveyed by this winter, finding that 45 percent used three devices (a laptop, a tablet and a smartphone) and 13 percent used four devices.
When offices fail to properly support technology use, people spend a lot of time bent forward, head dropped. While individuals may not give it much thought, working this way puts pressure on the neck and spine. In fact, the human head weighs on average about 10 pounds. But bent at a 15-degree angle, the head adds 27 pounds of pressure to the neck. At a 60-degree angle, it exerts 60 extra pounds of pressure.
An easy way to help offset some of the damage done by sitting for hours at a time is to invest in a solid office chair. Buy an ergonomically designed chair to support your back and neck and that provides comfort during long workdays. Look for features like adjustable armrests that let you move around and change your position throughout the day.
Often, office furniture falls at the bottom of the priority list for businesses, but a nice, supportive task chair is an investment that can pay dividends in health and well-being.
2. Make movement fun.
Too often, people nervously equate the charge to “get moving” with intense exercise like long-distance running or cross-training. But staying active can start with simple changes like engaging your core while you work and firing leg muscles to maintain balance.
Alternative seating lets workers move around while working on traditionally stationary tasks, like typing or reading, and small movements can have a big impact over time. Consider investing in a few “active seats” to give workers the option for incorporating more movement into their day.
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3. Incorporate a walk station at work.
For motivated multitaskers, the option to walk while working can revolutionize the workday. Ideal walk stations provide some surface area for a laptop or tablet, effective lighting and power sources to charge technology, making them mini offices.
Their speed is controlled, so the user can concentrate on the task at hand.
4. Make it easier for staffers to assume different postures.
Encourage movement throughout the day by setting up an environment that allows for various postures. Recent research by my company, turnstone, showed that today’s workers want choice and control over where they work, with 32 percent of professionals 18 to 34 surveyed preferring to work in lounge postures.
So providing secondary spaces in addition to traditional settings is a great first step to keeping people moving in an office setting.
Beyond encouraging movement, furniture that provides a palette of postures creates the notion that workers can “get away” without “going away” during the day.
Reduced stress and improved well-being has been shown to have a direct impact on employee engagement, something critically important to reducing turnover and increasing bottom-line results.
So think of investing in employees’ well-being as investing in your business and find fun ways to get your team moving.