In days long ago you could see people smoking everywhere and all the time, a common habit by many at the workplace. Just like smoking, seeing a room full of cubicles, and everyone sitting “chained” to their desks, will be a habit of the past. However, like any habit, quitting sitting can be as challenging as quitting smoking as Andy Delisi, our A&D rep, shows us in the humorous but truthful spoof video below.
How do we break the culture of sitting?
There were no rules against smoking in offices, restaurants, hospitals, schools, and public indoor and outdoor spaces. Little was known in the past about the health risks involved with smoking, so there was no basis to create policies and initiatives to encourage people to quit. Just like smoking, research now shows that sitting too much causes health problems.
Dr. Levine, from the Mayo Clinic, stated that in one study that compared the health risks of adults who sat for more than 4 hours during screen time versus those who sat for less than 2 hours. Results from the study showed that those who sat for longer periods of time increases health risks.
We’ve been sitting our whole life, in one way or another! You know it is bad for your health, but what do we do now? Everyone around us is sitting, and what other option do we have?
Believe and Commit.
First, you have to believe you need to make the change towards an office culture of wellness where sitting is infrequent and moving is the norm. Then commit to making the change.
What do you do if your job means you have to be on the computer all day? Commuting an hour or two to in the car to get into work means even more sitting. And then what about all the scheduled meetings?
What other choice do you have other than to sit? You need to get your work done! You work long hours, so when are you going to find time to move every few minutes?
How to break the habit of sitting and still be productive
Here are some ideas based on James Clear’s guidelines of how to break a bad habit, and how to design your office and workplace culture to spend less time sitting and still be productive.
1. Choose a substitute for your bad habit
Consider replacing sitting desks with sit-stand desks. This doesn’t have to be a high-budget expense. There are sit-stand desks available at a wide range of prices, and even an option to convert your current workspace into a sit-stand solution, further decreasing the cost. And you don’t need to outfit your whole office! With mobile technology and hot-desking workspaces, buying a few sit-stand units at first is a good place to start. Sit-Stand Desks are height-adjustable making this solution easy to create an ergonomic set up for anyone to use.
2. Cut out as many triggers as possible.
If you have a sit-stand desk, at the end of the day leave your desk in the standing position and put your chair across the room so you aren’t tempted to sit down as soon as you come into the office. Individual, cubicles where people can personalize the space, are becoming a thing of the past. Shared desks are now more popular in the modern office design. When it comes to creating a culture of movement, this is a good thing. Employees will be less likely to ‘stay in one place’ when the desk where they are working doesn’t have the cozy feeling of home.
3. Join forces with somebody.
James Clear says to pair up with someone and quit together. Encourage each other to get up and move around! If you notice a colleague sitting too long while you are walking by, remind him/her to get up and move.
Schedule to go for coffee breaks together. Grab a coffee to go and get out for a walk. Carpool and then park further from the office than you normally would; you might even save some money by finding a less expensive car lot. For lunchtime walk to a local deli or pack a blanket and walk to a green space for an impromptu picnic. If you do want to stay in for lunch, choose to stand at a pedestal table rather than sit at a traditional break table.
4. Surround yourself with people who live [work] the way you want to live [work].
When you are looking for a new job, is the organization one that promotes healthy living? If you are looking to build your business and expand your team, look for people that have healthy lifestyles already. They will fall in naturally to your active culture and probably have some good ideas to share on how to encourage a healthy office culture; a culture where is not acceptable to be sitting all day.
Other ‘Quitting Sitting’ tips to encourage a culture of movement in the office
- Replace the boardroom table and task seating with a bar-height boardroom table, and then add few stools placed around the room. You won’t need to worry about having seats for everyone. People will just take a seat as a reprieve when then need it for those longer meetings.
- Put the water cooler close by so people will get up to fill their water bottle. Hydration is important, but it also means taking more frequent bathroom breaks which get people moving.
Sitting (in an ergonomic position) is not bad! Sitting for extended periods of time is what is bad for our health. Buy a few sit-stand desks for the office, encourage your team to get up and move, and create spaces with a variety of seating areas in the office. These are just some ways to offer opportunities for employees to move and spend less time sitting.