By Joel Vento
Nearly 90% of U.S. employees spend their eight-hour days in a seated position. In fact, people spend more time sitting on any given day than they spend standing and lying down. Office workers were once seen as having cushy desk jobs that were preferable to occupations that required long intervals of standing. It might surprise you to know that it takes a considerable toll on the body to remain seated for the duration of a workday. You may even have heard of colleagues using curious-looking “standing desks” in other offices, in an effort not to succumb to the detrimental effects of staring at their computers in a sedentary position.
What’s the big deal? Do we really have to worry about how often our employees remain seated? Several scientific studies stress the influence of posture on attitude and motivation. Below are some of the biggest complications — and the best ways for small-business owners to prevent them.
What’s dangerous about sitting?
It might feel comfortable to scoot up to a desk in a rolling chair, gradually slumping lower and lower as the day progresses, but the long-term effects of being desk-bound are much more painful. Shoulder impingement, inflamed muscles and back pain are among the more common symptoms. Even if staff members maintain a strict exercise regimen outside of work, sitting all day while they’re on the clock can eventually contribute to muscular breakdown.
A prolonged seated position has also been tied to the following ailments:
· • Heart disease
· • Decreased bone density
· • Insulin resistance
· • Poor circulation
· • Herniated disks
· • Early death
Productivity is compromised when employees hunch over their workspaces all day. The brain gets limited oxygen and releases less serotonin, so your staff will find it increasingly difficult to think clearly and stay focused. Employers can combat the detrimental effects of sitting by investing in ergonomic equipment, and encouraging employees to adapt healthier practices when they’re seated. Incorporate some of the following techniques into your office routine.
Sit up straight
Dependable employees may come in bright and early, ready to quickly attack any task you give them, but as the day progresses, their shoulders slump, their heads lower, and their energy lags. The Huffington Post reports that sitting upright can “make you more energetic, reduce stress and make you more productive at work.”
Small-business owners can benefit from a more engaged staff, so talk to your employees about proper posture. Spinal alignment starts from the ground up, so feet should be flat on the floor, with knees bent at a 90-degree angle. A straight back and neck will facilitate airflow and keep workers engaged and attentive, not to mention healthier over time.
Encourage frequent breaks
It will actually increase productivity and focus if employees stand up a handful of times each hour. Of course, excessive time away from the desk can be problematic, but just taking a couple minutes to walk around the office or do some leg stretches, can make a considerable difference when it comes to improving personal health and fending off fatigue and work-related aches.
Ergonomic seating is one of the most dependable ways to sustain a healthy posture consistently. Even those employees with the best intentions will sit up less straight as the day progresses. Sometimes it’s just inevitable that posture will decline after hours spent at a computer screen, but ergonomic chairs are designed to support posture and reduce pressure, while still keeping workers comfortable. The HealthSite notes that ergonomic seating can support your entire spine, from the base up, which can promote circulation to the brain. Adjustable height and reclining functions allow the user to tweak his/her seating position for optimal comfort and physical alignment.
Studies have shown that staying seated can be detrimental to health and productivity, but using a standing desk comes with its own set of problems, and an additional string of expenses. Not to mention that some employees get bored with the novelty of this type of workstation. As a small-business owner, you can maximize productivity and lower stress with ergonomic seating and frequent breaks to stretch and keep blood flowing.
Joel Vento oversees marketing at Concept Seating, manufacturer of ergonomic seating. Joel brings over 20 years experience to the seating industry. He headed the design team that designed the 3150 chair. Joel has a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin Madison. Concept Seating produces a variety products like office task chairs and 24 hour dispatch chairs.