If it feels like you are spending longer at work, than you used to then you are right. Canadians are clocking in the most hours in more than two decades according to a recent study.Most of us spend the majority of this time hunkered over a desk getting little to no physical activity. But with 85% of adults in Canada not getting the minimum recommended amount of exercise and skyrocketing obesity and diabetes rates, something needs to happen to get people moving more. And what better place to make that happen than in the office?
Workspace design can have an immense impact on employee behaviour and make a big difference in physical activity levels of the people working in that environment. New research has shown that the spatial layout of the workspace greatly influences step count and the amount of time workers spend sitting.
The key to making this happen is a clever, well thought out office design that encourages a more active work environment, that encourages people to unshackle themselves from their desks more often and move around the office. This, in turn, will promote employee health and increase workplace productivity.
Why Should We Care About Making The Workplace Healthier?
Encouraging a healthy more active workplace can have substantial knock-on effects for both employees and employers.
From the employee’s perspective, you are helping them to feel healthier. Regular physical activity has been proven to reduce the likelihood of many types of illnesses both short term, like coughs and colds, and long term like cancer, depression and heart disease.
When people exercise they release endorphins that make them feel happier, less stressed and more energetic. When you combine this approach with a more healthy diet and consistent breaks then your employees will feel more positive and more focused throughout the day.
From the employer’s perspective, you are looking at an increase in employee engagement and motivation which in turn increases productivity. By encouraging your employees to stand and walk around more, you will see less absenteeism and attract and retain more key employees
How To Design A Healthier Office Space
Nowadays, many innovative features can be introduced into the workplace that will encourage healthier employees. Some of these are easy and cheap to implement, while others may cost a bit more, but are worth the investment.
Here are four ideas to get you started:
1. The Power of Standing
You don’t have to get your employees doing jumping jacks or push ups. The simple act of standing for two to four hours a day has been shown to reduce heart disease, diabetes, depression, and cancer.
There are many ways to encourage more standing at work, if the meetings are informal suggest doing it while walking around instead of sitting. Everybody will have more energy, will be working towards their 10,000 steps a day goal, and you won’t need to fight over board room time with other staff members.
Another option is to have less traditional meeting rooms. Research has shown meetings in which chairs were removed increased levels of collaboration and creativity.
Having alternative meeting areas that have whiteboards and other ways to collaborate and brainstorm could generate some new innovative ideas for your company.
More and more office spaces are introducing standing desks as a way of encouraging workers to stand more, reduce long sitting times and cut down on the neck and back problems. Users of sit-stand workstations report been more alert, focused and positive at work.
2. Gamify Your Workplace
Simply put, gamification is the integration of game mechanics into non-game related areas. It means taking a task that can be considered mundane, repetitive and laborious and implementing game-like elements -- namely, rewards, competition, and storytelling -- to encourage participation, achievement, and productivity.
One company supporting gamification in the workplace is StepJockey who have produced a range of workplace challenges encouraging more use of the stairs and exercise by employees.
A series of signs can be ordered that are installed on each level of the staircase that show how many calories have been burnt by taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Employers can also download an app on their smart phone that allows them to record their times.and compete with their fellow co-workers.
Other examples of gamifying the workplace could include a collective weight-loss campaign, supplemented with advice on healthy eating and exercise or wearable technology to encourage employees to track their activity. It doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. Ask employees what they’d like to do, experiment and keep it fun.
Creating a sense of competition in the office can also encourage more activity. Challenges such as the Global Corporate Challenge pit teams against each other to cover or climb the furthest distance. Emily Sowden, the European marketing manager at Global Corporate Challenge, says: “It’s about changing behaviour. The majority of participants continue to be active after the programme is finished.”
3. Encourage Healthy Eating Away From The Desk
You can’t order your staff to eat fruit and vegetables. But you can encourage them to eat that way by providing facilities that allows them to prepare and eat fresh, healthy food. Also, encourage your staff to take a break away from their desk. They will feel and work better because of it.
By combining a breakout space with a fully-fitted kitchen you can encourage your employees to relax and collaborate in a less formal setting, they will then go back to their desks after their break feeling fully refreshed and ready to start anew,
4. Bring The Gym To The Office
Try to create a space in the office that includes some basic gym equipment like dumbbells, a weight bench, and water fountain. Encourage employees to work out in the space by giving them flex time.
If you have the space and the budget, consider installing a fully featured gym. A great perk for employees who will save money on expensive gym memberships. They can step away from their desks, work out and come back refreshed, focused and more productive.
TruSpace have 30 years of experience in designing and building truly inspiring office spaces your business and your people deserve. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to learn more about our innovative all-inclusive design build service.