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Feature Active Working education can quadruple the gains of standing desks


The urgency to take greater action to offer a healthy office environment continues to gain momentum as we battle the increasing cost burden of worsening workplace health, higher absenteeism and poor productivity. In the first of 3 articles written by Gavin Bradley, founding Director of Active Working CIC, exclusive to FMUK, we look at the rapid rise in awareness of some of the issues associated with prolonged and excessive sedentary behaviour and what are the things we need to do to effectively combat the mantra of ‘sitting is the new smoking’. It’s important to start with the basics on


this subject as far too frequently false claims are made, and the science of sedentary behaviour is still in the early days of being properly understood, albeit that the evidence has grown rapidly in recent years. The average office worker sits for 10


hours a day, 65 – 70% of this sitting time takes place at work of which more than 50% is accumulated in prolonged periods of sustained “Binge” As a reducing office desk sitting has become one of the key challenges and strongest messages in the fight for healthier workplace surroundings. The Get Britain Standing campaign run by Active Working has increased the awareness of the seriousness of issue amongst office workers from 15 to 52% in just 4 years according to a recent newspaper survey. Sitting is not really the new


smoking – it doesn’t pass on any secondary effects, and employees often cannot control how long they sit in the working environment. Nevertheless, there is a substantial and growing amount of peer-reviewed data conducted worldwide and is now being released into the public domain. At last year’s Active Working Summit in London, UK, experts from around the world shared their research. As information was revealed to a diverse audience, it became clear that all the evidence points to the same conclusion: reducing sedentary behaviour – especially the amount of time spent sitting in the workplace can lead to increases in health and wellness as well as productivity at work.


Costs and Return


It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that unwell employees are likely to require days off sick, which results in millions of missed


08 fmuk


in the key principles of Active Working ie sitting less and moving more, not static sitting or static standing. As a movement, Active Working is


gaining momentum globally, but it will take a holistic approach and concerted effort from all stakeholders – policy makers, office furniture manufacturers, architects, occupational health practitioners, interior designers, employers, employees and resellers – to affect real changes.


Gavin Bradley, founding Director of Active Working CIC.


working days and billions in lost revenue. In other words, an unhealthy workforce not only impacts on employees themselves, but also a company’s bottom line and even the economy at large. Educating businesses about the real effects


of a sedentary working life and encouraging employees to get up and move more is an uphill battle, but the consensus is that without management buy-in and being led from the top, health and office wellness in the office will continue to remain just a ‘nice- to-have’. I am a firm believer that the culture of desk working needs to be rewritten by leaders and managers within an organisation. The question now needs to change to ‘why you at your desk for are so long?’ from ‘why you at your desk aren’t?’.”


Education is key


An important link in the chain will be dealers selling ergonomic furniture to interested parties. Education pre and post any sale, is a core element of Sit-Stand. Com’s approach. They will always make sure that a customer and user has access to their Active Working Guidelines and clearly understands who do adopt them with any specific circumstances in mind. In our experience companies who follow best practice guidelines and properly educate their employees in Active Working will see 4 times as much usage of their standing desks. Education is especially important if you understand the cognitive psychology behind failure to take advantage of sit-stand desks already in place – humans are simply designed to be lazy and programmed to conserve energy. According to Professor Alan Hedge from Cornell University, after studying the effects of different types of ergonomic office furniture: “We have to educate companies and employees and teach them how to use these products properly. You can’t just simply buy them and hope for the best” Active Working® also


commissioned the first global expert recommendations on standing time for office workers (with the support of Public Health England), published by the British Journal for Sports Medicine in June 2015. “We now have international consensus from health experts that we should be moving or standing between 2 – 4 hours


“There’s a major misunderstanding: the


risk of prolonged and excessive sitting is different from not doing physical activity. We need to raise awareness and provide the clear message that we should be engaged


every day in the office, and that companies now need to take on greater responsibility in supporting this target or otherwise face the costs of reducing workplace health, engagement and productivity”


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