For the average American, 40+ hours of their week is spent at work or doing work-related activities. This is approximately 1/3rd of their lives, according to Interior & Sources magazine article titled “Mind, Material, Motion”. When you put such a large amount of time in perspective, the place where you choose to work can play a major role in physical, emotional, and psychological health. For those who spend 90% or more of that time sitting in an office, like many of us here at JCI, you may be causing yourself more harm than good. More and more studies have come out explaining the negative health risks of sitting for long periods of time, including decreased life span and a higher risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Many workplaces are beginning to understand the consequences of having employees sit for long periods of time, as they are noticing higher absences due to health-related issues as well as a less productive staff. So, the next question is how do we fix these issues? Many specialists think that a key component in this battle is getting people up and out of their seats at least once every two hours. How can you do this? Many furniture manufacturers are coming out with height adjustable desks which allow employees to make the choice of whether they would like to sit or stand throughout the day. Standing an extra 3 hours a day can help burn an extra 30,000 calories a year which equals a weight loss of 8.6lbs, according to studies by renowned sports doctor Mike Loosemore.
Another thing employers can do is provide a work atmosphere that is less open and provides more opportunities for concentration along with designated collaboration areas. Studies prove that productivity increases when people can engage in their work without the constant interruption of their coworkers. This goes back to an issue we discussed in an earlier blog about the importance of balance . There is not one-size-fits-all in office furniture, just like there is not one-size-fits-all for the different types of work. One way that we at Joyce Contract have accomplished balance is by providing an open benching style system with upmount screen dividers for privacy and acoustics, and then having a collaboration table centered between four stations. This gives each employee a sense of their own space and the ability to focus on the task in front of them.
Finally, our designers suggest trying to provide each person with some form of natural daylight or nature view. We know this is not always possible, but even providing indoor plants or pictures of nature have been proven to reduce people’s stress and increase concentration. Many scientists have linked this to the theory of biophilia, or the deep affiliation humans have with nature due to biological evolution. Biophilia suggests that each person needs the ability to have visual connections between their interior and exterior environments; they need refuge from stressful atmospheres, and they need to be able to control the lighting in their space. By allowing these few accommodations in the work place, it is found that employees are more productive, more engaged in the company, and therefore more likely to stay with the company because they have a healthy attachment. Some excellent ways to allow for these controls are to provide break rooms, task lights, and, if not windows or pictures, colors from the natural environment.
Health and wellness should be a concern for every employer because better health results in a higher attendance rate and therefore a more productive staff. If you cannot implement all of these suggestions into your office, try to implement as many as you can. If you need help finding creative ways to integrate our suggestions give us a call at 978-251-2226 to talk to one of our knowledgeable designers!