Take A Stand For A Healthier Workplace
Strategy Manager, Ben Thomas shares why a healthy workplace is important for team productivity and wellbeing.
I’m the first to admit, I love a good sit. And I’m pretty good at it too. I’m not saying I’m the best sitter in the world, but if there was an Olympic Games of sitting, I’d be pretty confident I’d podium finish. And if there’s something I love just as much as a good sit, it’s a good stat. So here are some:
Office workers are the most sedentary occupational groups in the Australian workforce, with more than 12% of all employed Australians working in office environments that often promote sedentary behaviour.
The average office worker spends about 80,000 hours sitting down in their work life. That’s a little over 9 years spent sitting in the workplace alone (not including binging on all 6 seasons of Breaking Bad in one weekend).
Deadlines, finance queries, briefing sessions, team meetings; these are some of the realities of working in the media industry. Coupled with the natural ebbs and flows of workloads in such a fast-paced and constantly evolving industry, and the ubiquity of office technology, this has led to a whole lot of sitting during an average day at work.
With more and more studies finding correlations between extended periods of sitting and poor health, the spotlight is on the impact of sedentary behaviour in the workplace. For example, employee productivity, wellbeing and morale have all been found to be associated with workday inactivity. This, in turn, contributes to employee dissatisfaction, quality of output and absenteeism. With health and wellbeing no longer a passing fad, but a movement that has become ingrained in Australian culture, there is a demand for initiatives that recognise and promote healthy workplaces. A handful of tried-and-tested strategies have been put in place in recent years, including increasing the frequency of breaks in sitting at the office, standing meetings (also great if you happen to be the type of person who nods off in a briefing and wakes up with a post-it note stuck to your face…in front of the client), and implementing postural changes with sit-stand workstations.
Beyond the benefit to employees, agencies and clients are also reaping the rewards of this shift in mindset to more active workplaces. In our industry, which rewards creativity and innovation, simply getting up from your seat can make you more mentally alert and engaged with co-workers, often resulting in the best output. At Carat, we are constantly looking at ways to foster a healthy work environment for all. Initiatives such as ergonomic assessments, fruit boxes, running clubs and even a team in the Melbourne Marathon are just some of the ways that Carat supports a healthier and more active work environment. Standing workstations have also recently been trialed, and will be installed across the floor this month, to get people up and about during their day at the office.
But it’s not just agencies that are promoting active and healthy lifestyles for employees; brands have recognised the demand for initiatives that get people moving. For example, the rise and rise of fitness wearables as an always-on pseudo-trainer has taken the hassle out of progress tracking for full-time professionals who don’t have the time or inclination to wade through reams of data on a daily basis. Through understanding the mindset of their consumers, brands are also adding value by offering services that encourage activity. Initiatives such as Medibank’s discounted gym passes for members, or Nike’s running clubs, further reinforce their consumer first, bottom-line second mentality. Australia’s fitness focus has also influenced the way Carat approaches our clients’ business challenges. For example, for the recent City of Melbourne Active Cities campaign, the challenge was issued to create a healthy and happy CBD during winter, a time when Melbournians are more inclined to confine what few activities they couldn’t cancel (read: work) to the indoors. Our solution: motivate CBD workers and commuters to inject some extra incidental exercise into their day-to-day routine with an evolving mural on a staircase at one of Melbourne’s busiest train stations, Southern Cross.
So, for those of us in agency-land who want to stay active to get the most out of our day at the office, both professionally and personally, it isn’t about making radical changes. And, if you like lists as much as me (thanks, Buzzfeed), here are 3 things that you can do today that could make all the difference:
Incorporate standing as often as possible into your work routine, even if it’s just walking to the kitchen to get a glass of water, or standing at your next meeting.
Think about ways you can tap into consumers’ active mindsets, and deliver value through your clients’ campaigns.
Make an effort to get out of the office for a brisk walk – there’s always time.