The new, health-conscious direction in office products, architecture, and design is creating what’s known as the “active office”. The idea is to encourage more movement and engagement during the workday with a focus on employee health and wellness. With obesity at unprecedented levels, and numerous studies showing that a sedentary lifestyle leads to a myriad of health problems, the shift toward the active office is more than a trend; it’s a permanent change in how we view our relationship to our work environment.
It’s great that architects and interior designers are creating innovative solutions, but a grand, expensive office redesign is not necessary to create an office that emphasizes health and well being. Any company, regardless of its size or budget, can create an active office by simply implementing a few easy principles that encourage movement and engagement.
- Stand up desks. Sitting disease is Enemy Number One when it comes to work-related health issues. By standing more often, you may be able to fight weight gain, lower back pain, poor posture, fatigue, and even diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer!
- Ergonomic office chairs/accessories. Whether sitting or standing, it’s important to maintain proper balance and correct posture for natural pain relief. Ergonomic chairs, keyboards, and other accessories make every position healthier.
- Centralized work stations. Locate printers, scanners, message boards, and other office supplies in central areas within the office. This will encourage people to get away from their desk and walk in order to use certain equipment or perform regular tasks.
- Non-traditional collaborative spaces. Get creative with a few areas where teams can meet and collaborate. It can be a sport court or other game area, a room full of yoga mats or exercise balls – anything that doesn’t involve sitting in a chair or at a desk or table, which can aggravate low back pain.
- Outdoor work and activities. Take advantage of the freedom that mobile devices and abundant wifi offer and take outdoor breaks to work on a park bench or sitting on the grass. Also, walking meetings are great for team-building, brain-storming, and getting some vitamin D! Plus, it’s a great way to prevent chronic back pain.
- Planned activities. Whether it’s a daily walk at lunch time, an after-hours yoga session, participation in a local 5k, or even an early-morning meditation meeting, it’s a chance to focus on health and wellness that is open to anyone who wants to participate.
- Healthy break room. Replace chips and cookies with fruit, veggies, low-sugar granola bars, instant oatmeal, organic yogurt, almonds, and other healthy choices.