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What is active working and why should we bother?

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There’s nothing very active about the typical office.

Most office workers spend hours rooted to their office chairs every day. Our bodies are made for movement, for endurance, strength and agility. Sitting sedentary all day making the same repetitive movements from mouse to keyboard and back again is hugely damaging. Prolonged sitting is linked to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular problems and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) - which is one of the leading reasons cited for sick leave in the UK.

The way we conduct office work has to change. The idea of ‘active working’ has been around for some time now and means exactly that - being more active at work. But how do we encourage everyone in an office to move more during the day? What can we do to foster an active working culture?

This is what our recently published active working proposal helps businesses to do. We outline the effects of prolonged sitting and show you ways you can implement an active working culture in your office to combat these problems. You can download your free copy here.

But before you get going, let’s look a little closer about what it means to employ a truly active working culture in your office...

1. It's not something you can buy

There are things you can spend money on to help implement an active working culture, like sit-stand desks, anti-fatigue mats, pedometers and office redesigns, but active working is more than gadgets - it’s about education. Really, active working is a philosophy. It’s about making sure staff know how unhealthy prolonged sitting is and that they are made aware of the little changes they can make to be healthier.

2. It takes time

People aren’t going to change their habits overnight - and if they do, it’s likely they’ll revert back once the novelty’s worn off. Implementing an active working culture takes time. Employers can start introducing changes incrementally - for example starting with simply putting up posters and leaving leaflets around with tips for moving more. Next managers can be trained to start setting an example, then equipment can be moved around to promote more movement around the office (e.g. moving the watercooler downstairs). Then incentives can be introduced like cycle/walk to work schemes and so on. Eventually staff will begin to see movement as a normal part of office life - but certainly not immediately.

3. It’s the small things that count

It can be hard to see how small things are going to help you in the long run, but it’s important that staff realise these are the most important actions they can take towards a healthier lifestyle. Small actions include:

  • Parking further away from the office building.
  • Using a toilet on a different floor.
  • Getting up at least every hour
  • Standing up to complete some work tasks.
  • Moving to talk to colleagues in different departments instead of emailing
  • Going for a walk at lunch.

We have put together a downloadable brochure for active working for staff, managers and decision makers. It demonstrates the widespread problem of sedentary working, the steps businesses should take and the massive costs that could be saved by implementing sit-stand desking as part of an active working culture.

Download the free brochure.