As a new study launched last month indicates, the modern office routine could be contributing to a lack of motivation, poor health and low mood amongst employees. But what is it about our time spent in the office that is bringing us so down?
Considered by many companies and employers as a constant balancing act, employee wellbeing is a constantly monitored aspect of modern work life. But a new study from America indicates that several parts of our office routine are likely affecting this in a negative way. Snacking, sitting and the open plan office space are all, according to the research, the main things to blame.
Snack On This
Something that is likely leaving a bad taste in our mouths could come directly from the research carried out from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Studying amongst a pool of 5,222 employees across the country, it was revealed that workers consume almost 1,300 calories per week just from food and drink in the office alone. Further to this, they concluded that 70% of these calories came from free food which was either provided by the company or from treats brought in from fellow colleagues. Speaking further on the statistics raised, Stephen Onufrak, lead author of the study states that the food we receive at work, doesn’t meet normal dietary standards.
“To our knowledge, this is the first national study to look at the food people get at work. Our results suggest that the foods people get from work do not align well with the recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans”
Sit or Stand?
It’s well known what the possible effects can be for being sat down in one position for lengthy amounts of time could be, but new studies have shed a little more light on the severity. Well it’s time to get moving, because according to experts, there’s a direct link between the amount of time we spend sitting down and the likelihood of early mortality. To get even more grim about the situation, frequent gym sessions are not likely to completely offset the amount of time we spend sat down. Instead, it can only lessen it. If you really want to work on reducing the effect, the recommendation is to get up every 30 minutes or so from your seat for a stretch to break away from the usual office routine.
Standing isn’t a viable solution either according to new evidence. Research from journal Ergonomics detailed last year why we shouldn’t just decide to stand at work. In fact, the researchers state that “replacing office work sitting with standing should be done with caution”. And other studies think it’s time to re-think a treadmill desk. That is, unless you want to suffer lower cognitive performance and concentration lapses.
Opening up the Office
Whilst these areas of research are painting a bleak picture of the modern workplace, it sadly doesn’t end there. A 2011 study reveals that distractions such as excessive noise, distinctive smells and having to deal with annoying co-workers can lead to a 32% drop in overall worker wellbeing and reduce overall productivity by 15%. Unsurprisingly, regular meetings and excessive workloads are also taking their toll on the employee psyche and are the leading causes for raised blood pressure, higher stress and motivation as soon as we step foot through the building door.
Let’s not forget the financial situation either – as research from Capita Employee Solutions reveals the impact that money (or a lack of) has on our general wellbeing. Over 34% of current employees when surveyed felt too stressed to work because of their current financial situation with another 34% stating they were losing sleep worrying about paying off bills and incomings. 21% said that financial concerns have had an impact on their working efforts.
Finding a Solution
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Career recruitment website Monster provide a helpful list of ways to improve our physical and mental wellbeing during our office routine which includes:
- Working smarter, not harder – being a productive employee doesn’t mean you have to work the longest hours or arrive the earliest to work. Ensure you take regular breaks away from the computer or paper and pen and if you need a productivity boost, look at using the Pomodoro method.
- Taking back control of your inbox and business messaging services – make sure to set specific times in your connected calendar for when you’ll read and respond to any emails that arrive in your inbox. Start with the basics of Morning, Lunchtime and End of Day so that you can avoid interruptions.
- Planning out things you can do in your lunch break – activities such as going for a swim, phoning a friend of family member or even setting off for a quick walk around the block are all great ways to unwind a little bit after breaking off from a work task Try to steer clear of screens during this time, it’ll help you reduce all that sitting time.