June 2, 2015
A new study published yesterday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine claims that office workers spend far too much time sitting, are suffering from a range of conditions and illnesses as a result and so should be encouraged to spend up to half of each working while standing. The report, The sedentary office: a growing case for change towards better health and productivity, was commissioned by Public Health England and claims that our present sedentary working lives can lead directly to conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Mirroring the findings of other studies, the report also claims that we cannot fully mitigate these effects with exercise outside of work and need to address our working habits each day instead. The report argues that there is a “strong case” for changing the designs of offices and workstations, for example, by offering standing desks.
June 2, 2015
If you believed surveys and the news they generate you would soon come to regard the modern workplace as something of a death trap. Now this is somewhat misleading because statistically the most dangerous professions are still far and away those such as agriculture, forestry and construction which employ people in the open air, doing what used to be considered the core functions of work, namely making things, destroying things or moving them from one place to another. Nowadays most of us are in no danger of being hurt by this sort of work. But we can come to harm in the office and your workplace has it in for you in a number of ways. But, as opposed to truly dangerous jobs, it’s unlikely you will be caught out by surprise and there are plenty of things you can do to ensure you not only come to no harm at work but can find ways to become more productive and healthy. Here are just a few examples:
May 29, 2015
An additional 5.1m sq. ft. of office space will be required by 2019 to accommodate the growth of professional services firms in London, claims new research from CBRE. According to the studio, firms will also adopt more pragmatic workplace strategies that focus on agile working and wellbeing to meet their objectives. Nearly all (92 percent) of the respondents to CBRE’s Professional London survey claim they use the workplace to enhance employee satisfaction and 83 percent of firms use it to control costs. Firms are also placing more emphasis on wellbeing and more agile and intensive ways of using space, according to CBRE. Other factors such as technology and the design of the workplace are also increasingly important. The research suggests that staff are increasingly attracted by on-site amenities, connectivity and location and other ‘lifestyle offerings’.
May 28, 2015
At any one time around 1 in 6 people of working age are experiencing a common mental health condition such as depression or anxiety but a lack of awareness may lead employers to misinterpret symptoms as poor performance, finds a new report from Lancaster University’s Work Foundation.The paper, Symptoms of Depression and their Effects on Employment, recommends that in order to improve both productivity and health and wellbeing among those of working age, more concerted action must be taken to support people with depression to stay in and to return to work. The paper considers the ways in which some of the symptoms associated with depression can form a barrier to employment and calls upon government departments at a national and regional level to commit to improving the provision of evidence-based support to help people with depression.
May 28, 2015
Most of the arguments put forward for enlightened workplace design are fact based. That’s useful but such arguments can also ignore the fact that we respond to our surroundings on an emotional level as well as a functional one. Once you accept that office design is as much about how it makes people feel as how it helps them work, then the design process can be as much about EQ as it is IQ. While businesses can shy away from dealing with the emotional facets of working lives, there is a growing movement that advocates not only greater awareness of the importance of emotional intelligence but is also able to draw attention to the benefits it brings to organisations and individuals. This was the underlying message of a groundbreaking event that took place in London recently which explored the use of emotion in a business context.
May 27, 2015
Eighty-four percent of employers believe they have a responsibility to provide a work environment that promotes mental well-being, according to a new Buck Consultants at Xerox survey report “Promoting Mental Well-being: Addressing Worker Stress and Psychosocial Risks,” released last week at the Global Centre for Healthy Workplaces Annual Summit in Brazil. The Global Survey on Health Promotion and Workplace Wellness Strategies – with a strong focus on companies in the United States, United Kingdom, Brazil and Singapore – found that more than one-third of employers rate the stress level within their organization as “high or very high.” However, over two-thirds of employers offer flexible work schedules, and more than half offer telecommuting to mitigate work-related stress, while more than half of employers rate their organization as very or extremely supportive of the mental well-being of their employees.
May 22, 2015
The level of support by employers towards new mums differs dramatically depending on seniority. According to AXA PPP healthcare, in a poll of new mums, over half of those who had been working in entry level positions (59 per cent) said that their employer hadn’t provided any support beyond what was legally required in the run up to their maternity leave. But, for new mums who had been working in senior positions, that figure dropped to one in five (21 per cent). While 23 per cent of entry level employees were offered ‘keeping in touch days’ during their maternity leave, this number doubled for management level staff (46 per cent) and senior executives (54 per cent). Only 19 per cent of entry level workers were given advice about going on maternity leave compared with nearly a third (30 per cent) of management level employees.
May 19, 2015
Someone who is perpetually late is the most annoying workplace colleague according to a new survey of UK office workers, although only a third are prepared to do anything about it. However, just over 40 percent of respondents said that this kind of behaviour made them consider leaving their jobs with a striking five percent having actually followed through with such a decision. Colleagues who whine all the time were found to be the second most annoying people, the study into annoying office habits by Viking reveals. Misspent time was a key theme amongst the top five habits on the list of twenty, with excessive smoking breaks and deliberate procrastination taking top positions. Contrary to popular belief, jargon isn’t the most annoying practice to plague our offices. In fact, both men and women rated jargon in the bottom three.
May 18, 2015
Lately I’ve seen many articles about sit stand workstations and references to Scandinavia where almost all of us employees have access to sit stand workstations. It is true that most of the Scandinavian employees have access to sit stand workstations and in for example in Denmark employers are required by law to provide sit stand workstations to the employees, but this does unfortunately not automatically mean that the Scandinavian employees actually stand by the workstations. Even though most of us actually know that sitting is bad for our health, wellbeing and even our performance, we tend to sit most of the time while working. It is mostly about us being used to sit while working. It is a habitual behaviour and instead we need to get new habits of standing and moving at work. Change management is needed.
May 18, 2015
More than two in five workers (41 percent) admit they have gained weight at their current jobs, with 18 percent confessing they have gained more than 10 pounds a survey from CareerBuilder.co.uk claims. Only 13 percent of workers claim they’ve lost weight in their current job with sedentary working, exhaustion and time constraints all being identified as obstacles to staying fit. The majority of workers (68 percent) say their employers do not provide gym passes, access to workout facilities or wellbeing benefits. Of these, 41 percent claim they would take advantage of such opportunities, yet only a quarter (24 percent) say their company provides such incentives. Over half of workers (58 percent) also spend most of their time sitting at their desk during the day and skipping proper meals due to time constraints.
May 14, 2015
Mental health can affect people’s personal lives, wellbeing and morale. But it can also impact on their performance at work and be costly for businesses. That’s the message from Acas, which, to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, has issued a guide to managing mental health in the workplace. It advocates creating an environment where people feel confident they can disclose conditions to employers; that employers be aware of any changes in behaviour that might suggest they’re having problems; and suggests that if a problem is being caused by work, look into ways of facilitating changes, such as offering flexible working opportunities. It is also suggested that wellness initiatives which encourage healthy eating, exercise and mindfulness can also help to reduce the severity of mental ill health.
May 11, 2015
Nearly half (46%) of workers struggle to switch off from work, a new survey has revealed. The survey by YouGov of over 2,000 British adults, commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation to mark the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week (11 – 17 May) reports many people always or often feeling stressed (29%), anxious (24%) and depressed (17%). With the survey showing nearly two thirds of people (65%) likely to take part in activities that reduce stress, the Mental Health Foundation is calling for a national prevention strategy to reduce the risk of problems and for mindfulness to be more widely practised. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and endorsed in the Chief Medical Officer’s Mental Health report, for reducing the risk of depression.