There seems to be a lot of coverage in the news lately about the dangers of remaining sedentary at the office. Current research indicates that sitting for prolonged stretches can undo the benefits of physical activity even for the regularly active.

Sitting for too long has been shown to cause bad posture, head and neck aches, eye strain, and slowdowns in metabolism, blood sugar moderation, and burning fat. These can lead to weight gain, sluggishness, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and a whole host of other issues that could be easily prevented with some modifications to both the physical office and corporate culture to create an active workplace and healthier, more productive employees.

In addition, a fitter workforce reduces absenteeism due to illness or workers’ comp claims—reducing ever-increasing corporate health costs.

Encourage employee wellness with these easy ideas

Small adjustments to company practices or corporate culture can have a huge effect on employee wellness. Even making minor investments in technology that workers can use every day can create positive, long-lasting habits. The key is to provide employees with a variety of options that offer convenience and don’t require a drastic change that could prove difficult to maintain.

plankingEvery day at 3:15, everyone at Simple Truth drops what they are doing and does a 5-minute plank.
  • Subsidize employees’ memberships at a local gym
  • Advertise local walking events on company bulletin boards and newsletters
  • Hold a summertime scavenger hunt for employees, both indoors and out
  • Provide sneakers as a corporate perk or to mark employee anniversaries
  • Supply mobile headsets for people to walk during conference calls and webinars
  • Motivate managers to have standing meetings
  • Offer company yoga classes or daily company-wide planking breaks at a set time to build core strength
  • Create a desk size poster for employees with ergonomic tips and exercises that can be done in cubicles

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Design an employee rewards program that promotes walking

Motivate your employees to take part with free Fitbits or pedometers that can track their individual, and even group, progress. As part of this program, encourage them to:

  • Hold walking meetings, either one-on-one or in a group (these walks don’t have to be outside, they could take place around the office)
  • Email less, and make face-to-face talks the preferred method of employee communication
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevators
  • Pair up employees with walking buddies from different departments—this is a great way for people to get to know others in the company, too!

Workplace reconfiguration opportunities

In other cases, wider-spread corporate change may demand a reconfiguration of a company’s existing space, layout, and furnishings, especially if plans include:

  • Replacing employees’ desks with adjustable sit-to-stand height adjustable tables
  • Reconfiguring conference rooms for the presenter to walk around more, and for standing meetings
  • Adding an open cluster of cycling and treadmill desks for employees to use at random
  • Creating enticing break rooms to attract employees into going for a short stretch or to take lunch away from their desks
  • Installing standing phone booths for employees to take personal calls privately if your office has an open floor plan
  • Turning underutilized space into a company “gym”
  • Reconfiguring the floor plan to allow for an interior lap track for exercise or for walking meetings
  • Ways to make your workstation more ergonomic

In these circumstances, bringing in experienced workplace reconfiguration consultants can help narrow down choices to an optimum few that make the best sense for a company’s existing footprint, budget, and workplace demographics.