Why being on your feet at work makes you better at your job

Health & Well Being at Work


Get Up, Stand Up: the Office Upheaval

If you work in one of those lovely jobs where you have the privilege of sitting down for the duration of your working day, you might feel like you’re living the corporate dream – and we wouldn’t blame you. Sitting is great and definitely makes the mental stresses of a 9-to-5 feel less laborious. Indeed, office jobs which involve sitting for around 70% of your day may seem like you’re about as far away from danger as realistically possible – but there are actually many long-term effects of working in a sit-down environment which make seemingly faddy European dotcoms’ vertical practices a great deal more credible. With medical warnings continuing to appear left, right and centre, it may be hard to believe that even things as straightforward as sitting down are now considered a risky move – but we’ve got some knowledge that could change the face of office environments for good.


Sitting is the new smoking

Well, kind of – at this point, the health hazards are said to be comparable to this dirty habit. Working in a role where you’re sitting down for excessive periods of time could potentially have some pretty drastic effects further down the line. Sitting for too long can cause have a negative effect on the enzymes in our muscles and spike our blood sugar levels. According to the World Health Organisation, inactivity is, in fact, the fourth biggest killer of adults. With the average adult spending 50-70% of their day sitting down – be it in the car, at the office or in front of the TV – we look to be facing an inactivity epidemic. With something as intrinsically a part of working life as sitting at your office desk, it seems impossible that these medical risks can be anything other than an inevitability – but they aren’t. Employers and business owners are looking to give their employees the safe and productive working environment they deserve and will be relieved to hear that an offbeat office shake-up can get your workers on their feet and your company on the rise.

Feel better, work better

A 2011 study revealed that reduced daily sitting time led to significant uplift in mood and well-being reported by the test subjects:

Significant improvements were reported for fatigue, vigor, tension, confusion, depression and overall mood

That's a whole gamut of psychological improvements that would have understandably positive effects on worker productivity and well-being. It suggests that standing up could be one of the easiest way to improve the mood of an office or workplace.

So what’s the answer?

In light of these medical revelations, many companies are taking what is considered by many to be an outrageous move, in the form of stand-up offices. The concept is simple enough, and goes some way to offset these scary health hazards. Besides the fact that this upright initiative serves to counteract the risks of diabetes, heart disease and even cancer, there are also some more immediate benefits to be had simply by staying on your feet. Studies show that these new steps increase employee alertness, fitness and productivity – imagine the energy and dynamism of the stock exchange trading floor, emulated in a standard office environment.

Here are a couple of tips to get your team off the ground:

  • Encourage employees to use the stairs rather than lifts whenever possible
  • Suggest that your employees stand up to take phone calls
  • Move water coolers, coffee machines and waste bins further from your employees’ work area, persuading them to travel further – these trips may be small but the benefits soon stack-up
  • Remove chairs from meeting rooms – or do away with meeting rooms altogether! Opting instead for ‘bird table’ worktops around which meetings can occur
  • Introduce ‘walking meetings’ to your office and hold these meetings outdoors to increase your employees’ activity levels

So if you’re ready to ride the corporate trend wave, stand-up desks could be the way forward for your business.