Did you know that the average employee in the UK works for 1,795 hours each year? And, a big portion of that is within the confines of an office? Yes, we really do spend a lot of time in the workplace – and therefore, it greatly impacts our physical health.
In fact, office design can be the difference between great attendance levels and worryingly rising absenteeism. Because if a workplace negatively affects an employee’s physical health, then they are more likely to take time off sick.
Understanding how office design impacts your employees’ physical health is the first step to improving working conditions. So, in this blog, we’ll explain what you need to be aware of – and how office design can help (or hinder) your employees’ physical health…
When good ergonomics are missing, it’s common for your employees to complain of muscle fatigue. Some will even suffer from musculoskeletal disorders – which is one of the most common reasons for sick leave in the UK.
Good ergonomics starts with office design. From creating quiet zones to informal meeting areas and creative spaces, you can ergonomically craft workstations suitable for specific tasks.
Many office-based roles lead to a sedentary lifestyle – which is not good for your employees’ health. Actually, sedentary lifestyles can lead to serious health conditions like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
No, we’re not suggesting you get up and do circuit training once every hour in your office. Although it would be undeniably brilliant for your employees’ physical health, it’s likely to be unpractical. However, you can simply promote increased physical activity in the workplace through office design & furniture – such as installing sit-stand desks.
Making these small changes could mean diminished absenteeism. In fact, there’s overwhelming evidence that increased activity leads to healthier employees.
Eyestrains & headaches
Something that’s easy to forget is how much lighting affects your employees’ physical health. So much so, that we often advise that good lighting should be at the top of your priority list when thinking about office design.
When lighting is poor, you risk employees suffering from eyestrain, blurred vision, headaches and even migraines.
If you experience flickering lights, bulky furniture blocking natural light and glare on screens, it’s worth reconsidering your office design to maximise lighting. For example, think about glass partitioning – it helps natural light flow through the building.
The quality of air in your offices can seriously impact employee health. When air quality is poor your employees could become increasingly lethargic – and naturally, their productivity could dip substantially.
The Health & Safety Executive UK (HSE) states that all workplaces need an adequate supply of fresh air. From the use of plants that naturally absorb CO2 to ensuring workstations are near windows, there are many ways that good office design can maximise ventilation.
Finally, it’s common knowledge that our eating and drinking habits impact our health. Yet, many may think – what has that got to do with office design?
To a great degree, it is the responsibility of the individual employee to maintain a healthy diet and keep hydrated. However, employers can definitely influence healthy decisions through office design – and reap the benefits of a healthier workforce.
When good office design is lacking, employees tend to naturally eat at their desk – which enforces the fast-food culture. Consequently, these unhealthy eating habits can cause brain fog, lethargy and even unpleasant digestive ailments.
Yet, by providing dedicated eating spaces you are fostering a mindful eating culture – away from workstations where employees may feel more rushed to eat. Furthermore, employees may even feel comfortable to prepare healthier meals when you provide adequate space and facilities.
Installing water fountains or water coolers is another great way to diminish dehydration – and the associated symptoms that impact employees on a daily basis.
Improve employee physical health through good office design
Of course, healthy workplaces are more than great office design – but it’s a good place to start.
If you’re noticing increasing levels of absenteeism and waning productivity, it’s worth looking at the root causes of these issues. Often, it can drill down to the workplace environment – which can be greatly enhanced by rethinking your office design.
Or, contact Neil at 01785 817114 to speak to an expert about your office fit-out plans.