Desk-based full-time jobs have many perks such as providing employees with a predictable work schedule and consistent salary. But at what cost? Working in an office can take a real physical toll on employees if they spend the majority of their waking hours sitting in a chair hunched over a desk.

The physical impact of sitting stationary at an office desk is not a pretty one. Employees who spend about 8 hours of their day at their desks may develop permanent hunched backs, varicose veins, sore eyes caused by staring at a computer screen and rounded bellies. Employees who suffer from these physical ailments are not going to be as productive as they should be since they will feel the need to take frequent breaks to stretch their aching muscles, rest their eyes and may even call in sick to visit a chiropractor.

Productive employees are the best asset of each organization. Real changes are necessary to increase productivity, reduce sick leave and to overall prevent employees from suffering.

What can employers do?

Simple alterations to the office set-up can be made. Office cubicles can be equipped with an additional stand up desk and regular office meetings can be conducted standing up. In addition, offices can institute a ‘food-free desk policy’ where employees are told to eat their lunches and snacks away from their desks to encourage their works to get up, stretch and move a bit.

Employers can take this even further by introducing incentives such as subsidized gym memberships, onsite yoga classes and running clubs during slightly extended lunch breaks to encourage their staff to get active during their work day. This investment will reap great dividends as the employees will return to their workstations energized.

While it is common knowledge that exercise helps maintain physical wellness, it is less known that exercise also improves mental health. In other words, the endorphins released by exercising lift ‘brain fog’ leading to increased work productivity. Exercise is also a stress reliever and improves sleep quality. Employees who exercise regularly, even in short spurts at the office, have been shown to start sleeping better, making them wake up rested and refreshed to tackle another full day at the office.

Hootsuite, a social media management platform company made their motto: build fitness into how we do business” and put this into practice by building an on-site gym where employees can attend and enjoy classes and physical training during the work day. The firm’s CEO Ryan Holmes revealed that this change has “brought the company together, improved productivity and had a tangible effect on morale”.

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