Monthly Archives: January 2019

Is Your Office Chair Killing You Slowly?

Is Your Office Chair Killing You Slowly? Here’s What You Can Do

Among the various workplace stresses that could kill someone, an act as innocent as sitting might secretly be making it to the fore. According to a study by Dr. Hamilton, the author of “Too Little Exercise and Too Much Sitting: Inactivity Physiology and the Need for New Recommendations on Sedentary Behavior” [1], sitting in a place for too long can cause various health complications. Sitting for long periods with little moving around might sound like the definition of a hard working employee but on the contrary, it is the most unproductive and unhealthy. Recent epidemiologic evidence suggests that sitting time has deleterious cardiovascular and metabolic effects that are independent of whether adults meet physical activity guidelines. Humans were never really designed to sit for so long and still be efficient.

According to the cumulative conclusion of the individual studies conducted by Dr. Hamilton, there is a correlation between long stretches of sedentary behavior and prevalent health problems such as weight gain, cardiovascular & gastro disorders, and diseases such as diabetes [2]. But there's no need to jump off your chairs immediately as the study takes into account various variables like sitting postures, condition of the chair, and the duration. As a bottom line, merely sitting does not kill you, but it may put you at risk of drawing various health complications.

Reasons for Poor Sitting Postures

Most office tasks today involve sitting in front of a monitor. Sitting is in itself a harmless act and offers rest to the body by distributing the weight majorly to the buttocks, thighs & back. As such, these body parts should be displaced at a natural position. When you sit in an upright position, your monitor should be at your chest level. A height adjustable table or chair can help you set the perfect view. Your upper spine should be arched backward while your lower spine should arch forward. Many office chairs, however, do not support this position and have only a plain back to rest. We sit exactly contrary, with a hunched back. This is when sitting becomes a harmful position - when you are not doing it right. It is important to have an ergonomic chair which is curved at the right places to support your body.

Study states that frequent bodily motion is crucial. Even if you have an ergonomically qualified comfortable office chair, you still have to get off it every once in a while. Your muscles and joints are naturally made for movement. Unless you give them enough, your body is at risk. Nature has however, equipped man with auto reflexes that save us from turning into a tree. For example, many employees involuntarily move constantly in their places by shaking their thighs out of anxiety, moving their feet due to restlessness, stretching out arms even if it is for yawning and so on. But a conscious effort must be made to air out your seat by at least standing in place after every 20 minutes, ideally. Walking will be applauded. On the other hand, beware of the ‘Ultra comfortable chairs’ such as the bean bags or the passenger recliners which may serve any other purpose such as resting or relaxing but office work.

How Sitting Right Can Aid in Employee Productivity

An average corporate Indian spends around 43 hours a week at office. Out of which, they sit for at least 5 hours each day. As such, spending maximum time at the workplace makes it necessary to set a healthy work ambiance.
An uncomfortable sitting chair can often lead to frustration, loss in productivity and hindrances in completing even simple tasks. A chair which does not support your spine at the right places might lead to lower back pain and stiff knees. ‘Height adjustment’ is a feature which enables you to view your monitor and type on your keyboard at the appropriate angles suitable to your height. HNI India - World’s 2nd largest office chair manufacturer, provides ergonomic chairs for office spaces since 1944. The office chairs from ‘HNI India’ are ergonomically designed for utmost comfort and adaptability, especially considering the Indian body types. Such ergonomic furniture reduces pain and injury at the workplace, assisting employees to work with ease. Perfectly comfortable workers are less distracted and less fatigued which is why they are more productive than their counterparts. According to a research, these same workers have up to a 17.8 percent increase in productivity. To sum it up in a single line, sitting in poor postures for a prolonged time with limited movement and without breaks can impact our health and reduce our productivity.

    Educating Employees On the Effective Usage of Chairs

Employee education and training are critical not just in chair selection, but also in the effective use of chair features, as well as in the utilization of height adjustable work surfaces. Apart from the chair, mobility is the key. Offices should enforce collaborative work environments to encourage maximum movement. By offering employees high quality & ergonomically superior office chairs, and by training those employees to use the chairs effectively, employers can reduce a significant portion of the risk out of the work environment.

Reference:

  1. 1. Movement Improves Employee Wellbeing
  2. 2. Too Little Exercise and Too Much Sitting: Inactivity Physiology and the Need for New Recommendations on Sedentary Behavior
Collaborative Work Spaces – A Passing Trend or A Thriving Culture?

Collaborative Work Spaces – A Passing Trend or A Thriving Culture?

Remember the Movie - ‘The Matrix’? In one of the scenes, Neo is seen working in his enclosed cubicle when he gets a Phone call from Morpheus informing him about the unknown villains who have come looking for him in his office? This is when Neo suddenly stoops under the workstation desk of his cubicle and manages to scoot to a safe area. Did you notice the maze-like structure of the office? Well, that's how old offices used to be - structured and repetitive. If this was to happen in 2019, I’m sure Neo would have had a little hard time hiding with the open offices being what they are - open! But thankfully, offices are not meant to be hunting grounds anyway.

Come today and you’ll find offices consistently breaking the tradition with dynamic re-organization of the workspace, shattering the norms. The office workstation of today reminds you of a high-end sports bar or a lounge or even your home, anything but a regular office. But do not mistake this welcoming avatar to just be a passing fad as they are extremely high performing too. This stark shift in the ambiance is perhaps due to the realization that employees participation and positive engagement can be achieved only through creating a stimulating work environment.

Crimson Interactive, a Mumbai-based Language Solution Provider, is one such company with collaborative office space to make a plush lounge bar shy. The green wall verdant holding the plants is a view to freshen up the stalest of moods. There is a separate collaboration zone to titillate a distinct point in your brain and take you on a creative trip. There are many other companies doing their own version of collaborative to suit their fancies.

Scheduling serious meetings in the formally reserved block with a long meeting table and neatly circled chairs is passe. Cafes and Vending machines are the new meeting points. Employees increasingly view social connection and engagement as part of their collaborative experience. According to a study by Scientists at the University of Exeter, adding plants to your office can aid concentration, increase productivity and boost staff wellbeing by 47% [1]. Another study suggests that having abundant exposure to white lights in your workplace acquired 173% a white light introduction inside work hours and dozed a middle of 46 minutes increasingly a night.  While for an organization to succeed, it needs operational excellence and productivity, a collaborative workspace provides a conducive environment for these creative encounters leading to the holistic growth of both, employee and the organization. While there are obvious benefits such as fostering friendship and camaraderie within the workplace, there are few other advantages to a collaborative workspace such as:

  • A collaboration and clash of new ideas
  • Reduced Stress, loneliness and depression with the improved overall mood
  • Energetic atmosphere
  • Fosters social bonding and attachment with the organization
  • Less competition more teamwork
  • Increased efficiency and productivity
    But anything in excess is detrimental as it is also important to keep in mind that open offices do not have to mean a ‘bare all’ design which literally robs the employee of any sense of personal space.

It simply means, inculcating a sense of social belonging to discard feelings of monotony and developing love towards the workplace. It could also be that different departments or individuals may have different requirements with regards to the work environment. For instance, creative teams can work better with open seating architecture that promotes communication, while teams such as the Accounts, HR, R&D, and certain confidential offices such as that of the CEO can work better with lower levels of noise and greater confidentiality. Hence, it is best for offices to go for a hybrid combination of open and closed spaces pertaining to individual & departmental needs.

Certainly then, collaborative workspaces, when implemented in the right fashion, can not only benefit the organization but also enhance the mental and physical health of employees. Ultimately, a sustainable Corporate philosophy is to believe that what’s good for its people is good for the company too!

If you are speculating turning your office into the contemporary work zone, check out the rather impressive collaborative furniture range from HNI India, which presents loads of designer options to add quirkiness and positivity to your open office space. Be it fixed or reconfigurable, bold or conventional, whatever your selection, observe the furniture blend seamlessly with your workspace. There’s a lot more you can achieve simply by a change in furniture than you can perhaps conceive.

Reference:

  1. 1. Need to Increase Productivity in the Office? Do It By Design
Height Adjustable Tables for A ‘Flexible’ Work Environment

Height Adjustable Tables for A ‘Flexible’ Work Environment

The nature of work has changed drastically over the ages. Due to the Internet, much of the work is now possible without leaving the convenience of the office workstation. With more and more jobs involving sitting at your desk, human society has witnessed a swift transition into the ultra sedentary lifestyle without fully realizing its ill effects. But, human bodies were never designed to sit so much, without inviting health disorders.

What Happens When We Sit Too Much?

Physical inactivity is the 4th largest cause of an increase in global mortality [1]. According to research, sitting for long hours without getting up is so unhealthy that even 30 minutes of exercise cannot compensate for it. Which means, getting off your chair every once a while is mandatory despite the morning/evening workout routine. It also says that a short walk after every hour of sitting can lower your blood sugar level by 30% [2]. A fact that can take you by surprise is that 92% of all back pain related issues are a result of inactivity as compared to 8% of cases due to strenuous movement [3]. Sitting, in general, is not evil, not at all and is rather helpful, but excessive sitting is!

Although modern offices employ ergonomic chairs, one still needs to stand in between work. Some workplaces insist majorly on standing even for long hours. But prolonged standing also brings about health issues such as sore feet and swelling of legs, along with back & neck pain. The point is to work in a sit-and-stand manner. Many companies go the extra mile by giving their employees the option of sitting or standing workstations. A height adjustable table is the best bet for those who spend 8 hours or more at their desk. In countries such as Denmark, every worker has the option to request a standing desk, it's the law!

Benefits of Height Adjustable Desks

  • Promotes natural body movement

The human body is naturally designed for movement as opposed to sitting for prolonged periods. Our sedentary lifestyle has ensured that we get comfortable with our seating instead of making an effort to get up and move. According to a study, getting up from your desk every hour for at least 5 minutes is the minimum you can do to maintain your health. Movement is good for your spinal cord and joints and maintains your blood circulation. Increased blood circulation ensures a generous supply of oxygen to your brain which improves your mood and eliminates the feeling of boredom, thereby enhancing your productivity.

  • Adapts to all types of people

Height adjustable tables allow for a variety of permutations and combinations, especially when coupled with an ergonomic chair. Employees can work alternating between sitting and standing. They can adjust the desk to view their screens at an optimal angle. This is especially beneficial for excessively tall or short people who find it difficult to adjust to the regular seating positions.

  • Adds to the office Ergonomics

Standard cubicles have a limited scope of adjustment. They come at a fixed height and everything else needs to be adjusted around it. Hence, instead of the work, the focus is shifted to the work table. A sit-stand desk definitely provides a much more sensible alternative. With an adjustable height, the employee can sit more comfortably, conforming to his or her individual ergonomic needs. An ergonomic desk also adds to the modern office environment and makes it a state-of-the-art workplace. Apart from the obvious benefits, modular office furniture never fails to impress your clients.

The Height adjustable desks from HNI India support a range of different working styles and positions, allowing you to work both at sitting and standing heights. The tables are designed to let the wiring hang from the underside of the work surface, with centralized and concealed trunking for tidy and effortless wire management. You may contact HNI India and explore your options.

Reference:

  1. 1. Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health
  2. 2. Breaking Up Prolonged Sitting Reduces Postprandial Glucose and Insulin Responses
  3. 3. Inactivity and Low Back Pain