I am nothing if not a gracious and magnanimous boss. I am always looking out for what is in the best interests of those within my employ. For instance, I will make sure their desk chains are unshackled and the bathroom conveniently unlocked when they read this, lest they feel sick to their stomach. I'll even deactivate the payment receptacles that open the bathroom stalls. There will be no need to thank me.
That's just the kind of boss I am.
So, it was with great interest that I read of a recent study from the German Sport University Cologne. It was reported by the National Safety Council, in an article that was republished on this site. The research concluded that workers who spend most of their day sitting at a desk would prefer to be more active on the job.
According to the article:
“Researchers surveyed 614 desk-based workers on how often they are sedentary at work. Participants reported spending an average of 73 percent of their workdays sitting but indicated they'd rather that amount was closer to 54 percent. In addition, the workers said they'd like the average 12.9 percent of the day they spend walking boosted to about 23 percent. They also want to increase the amount of time they stand (to 15.8 percent from the current 10.2 percent) and perform physically demanding tasks (to 7.7 percent from 3.9 percent).”
Personally, I've often lamented that I spend 76.454365432% of my time in a sedentary fashion, when I would really only prefer it be 52.348675364848%. Clearly, I am slightly more mentally ambitious than the collective sample in this study, who still preferred a whopping 54 percent of the day be spent on their ass. Of course, those sampled employees may have been more aspiring than me in the realm of “physically demanding tasks.” While they wanted to increase their exposure in that area from 3.9% to 7.7%, I am currently quite comfortable with the existing rate of .098536374846725743% of my time spent on such foolishness.
I was never really impressed with wanna-be overachievers, anyway.
I think it would be incumbent upon my fellow employers to pay heed to this study, and help their employees become less sedentary as they clearly desire. It would be pretty simple. For instance, the sample group indicated they would like to increase their current amount of walking from a paltry 12.9% of their day to an ambitious 23%. This could easily be accomplished for many by turning off elevators in their buildings. Not only would the stair climbing add to their walking time goals, but for many of us in the tubbo category it would also qualify as an additional “physically demanding task”. Two objectives met with the throwing of one simple switch. Voila.
And how about increased standing time? That one is easy. Reduce the staff in the lobby Starbucks to just one cranky Barista. This will ensure your staff increases their standing time tremendously. One word of caution on that, however. You had best provide them with mobile working devices, or productivity may drop dramatically.
I am thinking of establishing some team building exercises that could help my employees reach these desired levels of activity. One of the new programs under consideration has the code name “Gutter Cleaning at Bob's House.” Another similar program being considered is called “Window Cleaning at Bob's House.” These are proprietary programs still under development, so I best not reveal too much at this time.
We actually responded to the desire for a less sedentary workplace long before this study emerged. I bought a “Sit/Stand Desk” for my office two years ago. I faithfully stood at that desk for a full three months, until my knees completely collapsed from all the weight. During that time I received numerous requests for more of those desks, which we willingly provided. Today all but a couple people in the office have sit/stand desks. They have been a tremendous success. A couple people stand all through the day. The rest of us sit while the desk stands in front of us, so I guess we can still chalk that up as a win overall.
I hope employers follow the lead of this study, and help their employees meet their desired increase in activity levels. Whether it is taking away all their chairs or moving the bathrooms to a building down the street, they will appreciate you for it. After all, you'll just be giving workers what they really want.
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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