Walk-and-work a winning formula for office productivity

A desk and a chair are more than a place to work. They can be a place to increase productivity and help employees, says Manar Al Hinai.

Employees who vary their postures at work are more alert, productive, and feel less tired at the end of the working day. Bloomberg News
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Being the hyper person that I am, I am not a big fan of sitting for long hours at my desk. I have to get up for a five-minute walk or freshen up every now and then.

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On occasion, however, when I am overloaded with projects, I lose track of time and find myself fixed in the same position for hours on end in front of my computer screen.

That, coupled with stress and juggling numerous tasks, is always bad news for my health.

Some people's work-related stress is reflected in the form of headaches or shoulder muscle pain.

A soothing massage and a couple of pain killers could do the trick in their case.

However, when it comes to mine, my stomach takes the hit.

Not only will I lose my appetite, but I will feel nauseous, drowsy, and not in as productive a mood as I normally would be.

Only after I visit a doctor, take my prescribed pills and follow their advice of making sure to take a break from my office and walk for a few minutes will I feel normal again.

Unfortunately, by that time I will be lagging behind many tasks that were postponed.

Going through this uncomfortable experience a number of times, and witnessing similar stress-related incidents with my friends, has provided me with a new perspective on business operations.

Look at it this way: business owners and managers focus on hiring the right employees and getting the most out of them to increase their revenue. They send them off on training courses and seminars only to keep that productivity arrow pointing north.

That all sounds perfect, and surely does not come cheap.

Unfortunately, many tend to overlook the fact that office staples as simple as desks and workstations play a huge role in affecting their profit figures, especially in the long run.

Not until recently did I realise how much attention is paid to office furniture and productivity in big corporations in the West.

There are even furniture companies dedicated solely to designing office equipment with employees' productivity in mind.

The cumulative damage caused by sitting in a certain position for eight to 10 hours a day presents a threat not only to an individual's health, but also to the company's revenue and performance.

Stress injuries cost both the employee and employer, in the form of health bills, employee absence during critical times, attention spans and compensation claims.

On the other hand, employees who vary their postures at work are more alert, productive and feel less tired at the end of the working day.

Scientific studies reveal that changing positions throughout the work day can help to eliminate physical stress, in addition to increasing blood circulation to the brain, which ultimately improves attention span and productivity.

Standing from time to time is also great for health and productivity.

And many research findings have shown that standing for a few hours at work can significantly reduce body weight.

But we cannot stand and type on the computer using our current workstations, unless we want to harm ourselves by bending our muscles.

The solution to this problem comes in the form of sit-to-stand workstations, an alternative adopted by many global organisations.

These allow employees to alternate positions from sitting to standing by adjusting the height of computer monitors and keyboard trays.

The more customisation these sit-and-stand workstations allow, the better they can accommodate employees of different sizes.

Treadmill workstations are also favoured by corporations. The name explains it all. The model is your typical treadmill device, attached to a computer screen and keyboard, and it is priced anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand US dollars.

According to reports by Mayo Clinic, the average walk-and-work pace for two to three hours a day can help an employee lose as much as 66 pounds, depending on their weight to start with.

As for me, I will stick to taking a five-minute break every hour.

Manar Al Hinai is a fashion designer and writer. She can be followed on Twitter @manar_alhinai

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