4 Ideas to Create a Healthy Work Environment
By now, most people know that sitting has been coined “the new smoking.” Prolonged sitting at a desk can lead to detrimental health conditions including high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. And it doesn’t end there – sitting for long periods of time can cause pain and suffering of the neck, back and shoulders. These diseases and chronic conditions eventually lead to absenteeism, increased healthcare costs, and poor work performance. With the majority of employees sitting at their desks for long hours -- both at the office and at home or during their commute – employers can help employees reduce the risks associated with sitting by creating healthy work environments.
Desks. Ergonomically designed chairs and desks can reduce neck pain and poor posture by realigning the position of the spine and reducing the strain on muscles and joints. Adjustable chairs and desks can account for different heights and body types and promote proper posture in the workspace. Some employers are even offering convertible desks, which give employees the option to sit behind the desk or raise it to work while standing.
Computers. Monitors need to be considered in any desk/chair ergonomic evaluation. The size of the monitor can impact the posture of the employee. Small monitors require an employee to lean in and look down whereas a larger monitor may require an employee to sit further back and strain their neck upward. The ideal monitor height should allow an employee to have a downward viewing gaze that’s perpendicular to the surface of the monitor. When supplying employees with laptops, consider providing laptop stands to address any monitor height issues.
Lights. Certain lighting can impact the circadian rhythm of employees. Different light settings should be set for different times throughout the day, also known as human-centric lighting. A recent report explained that lighting can stimulate an employee’s energy level. Desk lamps can enhance the work experience for some employees who may need more direct lighting. Dim lighting can affect worker productivity as it has been proven to increase eye strain, headaches and drowsiness. Natural daylight is the ideal option when possible.
Treadmill Desks. Walk and work? Yes, it can be done. Treadmill desks provide employees with the opportunity to work and burn calories at the same time. They are a great way to incorporate activity into a sedentary job. It’s not necessary – or even advisable – to walk and work all day long. The treadmill desk can be used for 20 to 30-minute intervals throughout the day.
Even employees who exercise before or after work need to move while they are on the job. Many employers have been offering fitness trackers and wearable devices to motivate employees to get up and away from their desks during the work day. Ergonomic desk design can only go so far; employees need to be encouraged to move throughout the day. Consider implementing walking or standing meetings, encouraging employees to take the stairs, and providing simple exercises employees can do in their office. Some employers offer financial or other incentives such as health premium discounts or gift cards to inspire employees to exercise and participate in wellness programs.