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OUR TAKE: Why workplace wellness should be a top priority for your business

I recently read an article published by Real Business based in the UK. The article was titled “Why workplace wellness should be a top priority for your business” and I wanted to add my thoughts to it as I believe it perfectly parallels to what Fitneff is all about.

Real Business starts off the article by highlighting a study by AJ Products, this study revealed that, “over 40% of people think that their current work environment has a negative impact on their physical and emotional wellbeing – as well as being detrimental to their productivity.” If this number seems concerning to you – that’s because it is. Almost half of all employees believe their job is damaging to their overall health.

This isn’t just affecting people outside of work, it’s also affecting their workplace productivity. Real Business looked at the study done by Health and Safety Executive that showed that “12.8 million working days were lost because of work-related stress, depression or anxiety” with another 6.9 million days lost to back and neck pain alone.

This article highlights how damaging a sedentary lifestyle can be on a person’s overall health. As it is linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and declining mental health.  Most workplaces expect employees to work 40 hours a week, primarily sitting at their desks all day, with little to no movement. So, if our current model of office culture isn’t working for over 40% of people, how can we change things?

The answer should be obvious, get moving. This is what Fitneff is all about, allowing people to integrate movement into their daily life. Real Business notes, “Not only does active office furniture improve physical health, but it also has a knock-on effect on performance, productivity, and mood.” These office solutions give people a chance at a more positive work environment, a workplace that prioritizes health and wellbeing, that puts the person’s needs into consideration before their level of productivity. The human body is meant to move, so we shouldn’t be trying to keep it still all day. Our hope is that these small, positive changes will overflow into other areas of life.

Fitneff aims to provide as many solutions to your workspace as possible. Here are a few solutions that I recommend helping you get started:

Sit-Stand Desk Conversions

The easiest way to turn a sedentary workstation into an active one is to get a sit-stand desk conversion. These units fit directly onto a flat surface, such as your desk, and normally come already assembled. At my desk I am currently using the Ergotron WorkFit-TL in white, I have really been enjoying this unit. It’s super easy to move up to standing position for when I want to add in some movement into my day and it feels very comfortable while seated. Another desk convert I highly recommend is the ESI S2S, this unit is new to our product line and we are excited to have such a high-quality brand join us. My officemate, Anita, recently got the S2S and is enjoying it as it fits perfectly into her already active, daily routine. We are currently hosting a giveaway for the S2S! Enter for your chance to win!

Active Sitting

Another way to easily change up your sedentary workstation is to grab an active sitting option such as a stool or kneel chair. My favourites are the Varier Move stool and the Kore Office Everyday Active Stool. These two stools really allow for movement while sitting down, they promote consistent small movements throughout the day to combat the risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle. I often use the Varier Move stool at my desk when I want to sit down. It’s so comfortable and reminds me to sit up straight while working.

Accessories

Even the small changes can make a difference in your day! Some of my favourite accessories include anti-fatigue mats, such as the Safco Moveable or the InMovement Integrate, and the Drexel Stamina Mini Exercise Bike. Anti-fatigue mats are great to pair with a standing desk, the softer surface is kinder to your knees and hips, making it easier to stand for prolong periods. The Mini Exercise Bike is great to use under your desk while sitting down, you can get your restless legs moving without disrupting others. I also find these super helpful when trying to focus for long periods of time.

Non-Product Active Solutions

Even if your company doesn’t approve of the addition of active furniture to improve your work environment, it doesn’t mean you are out of luck. Here are some habits to adopt at work that promote wellness without blowing budgets and adding new furnishings:

Take your breaks away from your desk

Are you truly taking a break if you are not away from your desk? Not only does your mind need a break from looking at work emails and to-do lists on the whiteboards, but you also need a break from prolong periods of sitting too. Awaken your joints and unengaged muscles by getting up and stretching and going for an active break.  Active breaks include taking the long way to refill your coffee, taking the stairs down to the main level (if you are feeling ambitious, take them back up!), or doing simple stretches in the break room or common areas – just think of anything that will get you up and off your office chair!

Encourage employees to go for walk

Did you know that walking meetings are a great way to increase creativity by 60%, facilitate decision making, and overall better method of communicating? If you have an informal meeting between a 2-3 people, do the meeting whilst lapping around the office or even outdoors. You’ll notice this meeting will be shorter and you’ll come back refreshed having been able to stretch your legs. Further, opt for team lunches or events where you opt to walk or take public transit; not only will you be able to get a couple more steps in, it is also a quasi teambuilding opportunity to catch up with your coworkers.

Make common areas more inviting

If you are struggling to get people out of their offices, try making common areas more inviting. This can be accomplished by having things such as coffee stations, comfy chairs, clean tables, or TVs broadcasting news.  Our coworking space, ReSourceYYC, not only have welcoming open areas and break rooms, where coffee and tea and free-flowing; they sometimes bring in treats for their members to indulge in and to inspire conversations. They also set a time every week where they put out snacks and drinks to encourage everyone to take a break from their work to hang out and socialize with one another. It’s great for our mental health to step away from our computer screens and have some face to face conversations with one another. 

Open communication with employees

Create an environment where your employees feel comfortable talking about their physical and mental health at work. Check-in with everyone on a weekly one-on-one meeting to review their current progresses, goals, stresses they might be experiencing, etc. Sometimes just being able to talk about it can be a huge stress reliever, perhaps even verbalizing can help someone overcome obstacles. Establishing this open dialogue will not only be a valuable intake for managers, but a touch of empathy and time will be the support your employees need.  

I’m always so happy to see articles like this one from Real Business, it gives me a lot of hope that companies are starting to take mental health and active lifestyles seriously within the workplace. Realizing that the adage of “health is wealth” extends into the workplace, wellness in body and mind is just as important as the bottom lines of a company. The return on investment in your staff’s wellness will manifest in boosted morale, stronger company culture, and increased productivity; just to name a few benefits. Workplace Wellness isn't just a buzz word anymore, there are practical steps you can take to achieved a workplace full of happy, healthy people. 

 

January 30, 2020 — Kate Spenst

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