Active lifestyles make for happier, healthier humans. It’s clear that having an active lifestyle is more challenging during the hours of 9-5, when much of our work is centered around long hours at a desk.
Humanscale invited Professor Alan Hedge to speak at their newly renovated space in Manhattan, where he presented his findings from years of research on ergonomics in what he referred to as the “agile workplace”.
“Activity-based working” or “agile working” allows people to choose to work from a variety of spaces that suit the activity at hand. Hedge is a big supporter of these ideas. He noted that we perform a wide range of tasks at work, from concentration to collaboration, inspiration to relaxation.
According to Hedge, just having a variety of spaces isn’t enough. The key to a healthier, more engaged workplace? Continuous movement and posture change. Continuous moderate movement, such as getting up from one’s desk at least once every hour throughout the day, can make a huge difference. If an employee is sedentary for 90% of the day but gets up once to go for an intense run, that doesn’t make up for all of the hours without any movement. Whether you get up to take a stroll, grab a glass of water or simply stretch, just get up out of your seat.
Continuous movement can also be achieved through posture change. Humans weren’t meant to sit in one position all day. This can actually lead to many musculoskeletal issues, especially if posture is poor. An agile workplace should encourage people to change posture by providing design elements that require them to sit, stand, walk, or gather in different ways.
Many workplaces have already started to equip their offices for healthier movement and posture habits, but more work remains. In order to make real advancements in employee health and happiness, workplaces must go beyond design to encourage employees to adopt new practices that make the most of their environments.