Better Workspace Ergonomics

My, how the world has changed. Don't go swimming straight after a meal. Stick your batteries in the fridge for longer life - that's the life of the batteries, not you. And you do your best work sitting at a desk.

The last one is relevant here and like the other two is indeed a myth. They are not true. They have no basis in fact although the opposite is true. And standing up to work at a raised desk is now culturally and scientifically proven to be valuable in so many ways. So now you know.

The problem for some though is defying tradition. Only now are managers studying the studies and coming to understand the situation. Sticking to the same old same old is no longer wise. It's not good for the health and wellbeing of your employees and, the horror of horrors; it's bad for your business and your bottom line.

Health creates wealth

Science plays an ever increasing role in our lives today. A generation or three ago we would never have considered our posture at work to be a factor in the success of the business. Today, medical science preaches loud and long that a sedentary lifestyle is bad. With the older generation, they are encouraged to "use it or lose it". Keep active. The same principle can apply to all generations especially when it comes to the workplace.

Sitting in the same position for hours on end is a no-no. Why? If we sit and work for long periods our glucose and cholesterol levels keep nudging higher. You do know about high blood sugar levels and blocked arteries? Both are bad news for your health. And let's face it; you won't work well or at all if your body pulls a sickie or retires.

It's called a healthy balance

We know about a healthy work and play balance and that's a theme many businesses promote within the actual workplace. But here we're being specific. We need a balance in our work positions. Sitting for 8 hours is not good. No, that's wrong, it's bad and dumb. Likewise on your feet for that amount of time is equally potentially unhealthy. This is where the balance comes in. Mix it up. If you have a sitting-type job, get up and move around on a regular basis. Stretch those limbs and get your body warmed up, get it working. Likewise, if you have a standing job, get off your feet from time to time to avoid possible strains and pains and mental fatigue. Strike a balance in your working positions.

Beware the wrong response

Some people, who have a sedentary work situation, leave work and hit the gym. They pound the treadmill, bash the bike and pump weights or do pump classes to make up for their hours of inactivity at work. Not wise. Of course, sensible exercise is a plus and to be recommended but there is a strong argument which says that simple movement at work and avoiding the same position for lengthy periods is a great (and inexpensive) way to avoid health problems in the future.

It's a simple fix. Keep moving at work.

We spend a lot of time doing little or nothing. Do a quick calculation. We sleep for about a third of each day. We sit in a car or on public transport for a fair chunk of our waking hours. And if we add a sedentary life at work to the mix it's easy to see how our health can be impacted.

Now we need our beauty sleep and there's not much we can do about traffic problems but the third issue is easily fixed. Vary your stance or seating position at work. You do know there are desks today where you can work standing up? Think about it.

To be truthful, working when standing isn't new. Charles Dickens and Ernest Hemingway swore by it. In fact, plenty of famous writers and thinkers tackled their novels and speech writing in an upright position. Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Lewis Carroll, Virginia Woolf and Vladimir Nabokov all tackled their prose while standing.

Work desks have never come in such a variety as they do today. Designers and manufacturers understand trends and have produced all manner of adjustable desks ideal for work with the employee standing. Managers can do the right thing by their staff by offering a variety of desks including adjustable models which are purpose built for the worker to stand.

Benefits

It's a rhetorical question but here goes anyway. Do you want happier and healthier workers? Of course. And why? Well hopefully because you're a humanitarian but if not then think bottom line. Happier and healthier workers are better for your business.

Are you convinced about the benefits of better and different types of office furniture? Do you think ergonomically designed furniture is better for your business? Great but there are practical steps you are encouraged to follow. Here is how to introduce a change in office furniture so that the switch works and works well.

Don't rush. Introducing a stack of stand-up desks and ordering everyone to immediately use same for hours is wrong, totally wrong. It's a big change for people who have always sat at a desk or a table to work. Start gradually. Walk before for stand (or run).
Switch around. Try starting work standing and then switch back to sitting for another part of your project. To get into a habit, make sure your standing desk is set up ready to go first thing the next working day.
No swimming. Remember the old myth about staying out of the water after a meal, well, with work positions it's okay. You have your lunch and, while going swimming is wrongfully frowned upon, standing is all the rage. After lunch as your digestion kicks in, sitting doesn't help. Work standing up after lunch to help you avoid fatigue and becoming drowsy.
Chat while standing. When you make or take a phone call, if not already standing, stand. Millions of people can walk and chew gun simultaneously. Join them only add speaking and listening as you rack up the frequent flyer walking points while on the blower.
Listen to your body. Not when it comes to passing wind but with aches and pains or feeling off. Stand if sitting when this occurs and likewise sit if standing when something doesn't feel right.
Two hours max. This is a general rule and will vary for each person, but generally speaking, the advice is to move at least every two hours. A short walk even within your workspace can do wonders for your mental and physical wellbeing.
Teenagers do it. Parents can't believe their offspring can do homework while their favourite music blasts out of speakers or headphones. But if they can, why not you? It's recommended that if working standing, then listening to music can be helpful. Just don't invade the ear drums of your fellow workers.
Dress sensibly. Of course fashion exerts all kinds of pressure but wearing sensible clothes and footwear goes a long way to making working while standing an easier and more productive activity.
Cheating is allowed. Working while standing doesn't have any rules. How long you do it and how you do is up to you. If you want to place a knee or foot on a stool for some time, then that is not a federal offence. The furniture police will not come a calling.

There is no debate

The matter is well and truly decided. The debate is over. Happy and healthy employees are by far the ideal workers. They are enthusiastic about their work. They take fewer sick days. They are less tempted to look elsewhere for another job. So that being the case, that begs the question, how do you produce happy and healthy employees?

Well that requires a detailed answer but one important component is summed up in two words - adjustable desks. Desks which allow workers to stand as the work. Such pieces of furniture are here and being used throughout the world. Maybe now would be a good time to investigate the possibility of having your workers operate in a different way. And you might just find that given the chance, the choice, many would gladly stand for it.