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A Healthy Office Is A Productive Office [Infographic]

Did you know that 1 in 5 office workers admit to not leaving their desk all day – even to eat lunch? Not only is this bad for office morale, it can also be having a bigger effect on productivity than you first thought. From illness to productivity and creativity, everything in the office environment contributes to how your team works. This infographic looks at ways that you, as an employer, can improve the office conditions for increased productivity, and how you, as an employee, can actively make a difference to your workplace that will benefit you.

A Healthy Office is a Productive Office – An infographic by the team at Louch Shacklock

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In 2013, The average of sickness days per employee was 7.6. The public service sector recorded the highest absence levels, with employees off sick for an average of 8.7 days. The employees taking the least amount of time off sick came from the manufacturing and production sector, with only six days a year per employee.

Despite the increase, employers have been actively managing the rate of absence, with 85 per cent of the survey’s 618 employers reporting to have adjusted working patterns this year, 20 per cent more than in 2012. Small changes include adapting working hours from the traditional nine to five, and comprehensive training for line managers on tackling absence and conducting effective return-to-work interviews.

Reports, suggest that the current social climate could be affecting how employees approach work. Changing demographics, including more people with caring responsibilities and the abolition of the default retirement age, means more people are looking to work untraditional hours. Offering more flexible working opportunities also helps to respond to the needs of the UK’s ageing workforce, in which older employees will increasingly need and want to work in different ways and with different hours as they move towards retirement.

Two-fifths of respondents also noted that a tougher economic situation is prompting an increased focus on employee well-being and promoting good health at work. With 40 per cent of employers spending more on well-being initiatives compared with the previous financial year, this emphasis on healthier workplaces looks set to increase.

Stress and musculoskeletal injuries continue to top the list of causes of absence and, despite nearly 40 per cent of employers increasing their focus on stress management over the past 12 months, stress-related absence has seen a steady rise over the last year for the UK’s workforce. Methods to identify and reduce stress in the workplace, such as staff surveys, flexible working options and employee assistance programmes, are gaining prominence in workplaces across the UK. However the CIPD’s latest figures suggest more needs to be done to tackle increasing sickness absence rates.

We would like to thank the Nottinghamshire Fit for Work Service for supplying us with the data via the latest CIPD report.

With one in five workers admitting to not leaving their desk all day, not even for lunch, it’s no surprise that many office workers suffer from bad posture and the physical implications of sitting all day long. When asking, the top five excuses for not walking around and leaving the desk were:

Poor weather (31%)
Not enough time (26%)
Lack of fitness (12%)
Don’t feel safe (11%)
Too tired (11%)

Bad posture puts stress on the muscles, joints and ligaments in your body which can cause neck, back, and shoulder pain, reduce lung and muscle function, and cause cardiac problems. Even getting up to grab a glass of water every 30-40 minutes could reduce the negative effects of sitting still all day long.

However, if you are going to sit, your posture needs to be correct. According to the British Chiropractic association, when sitting at a desk:

Your feet should be flat on the ground
Knees should be bent with a downward slope from hips to knees
Eyes should be level with the top of the computer screen
Lower back and shoulder blades should touch the backrest
Elbows should be level with the desk.

Plants and Productivity

In the 1980’s, NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America studied plants as a way to filter and purify air, including:Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum), Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) and Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’), just to name a few. More recent research carried out by the University of Exeter found that plants can increase well-being by 47%, increase creativity by 47%, and increase productivity by 38%.

Water and Concentration

The European Food Safety Authority recommends that women drink 1.6 litres of fluid a day (8 x 200ml glasses) and men drink 2.0 litres of fluid per day (10 x 200ml glasses)

Common signs of dehydration include headaches, lack of energy and feeling lightheaded.

Noise and Creativity

Research published by the University of Chicago Press exposed groups to different levels of background noise (50 decibels, 70 decibels, 85 decibels, and total silence) and found that the 70 decibel group exposed to a moderate level of ambient noise significantly out-performed those in their creative tasks.

Light and Focus

Poor lighting at work can result in symptoms such as eyestrain, migraine, headaches, lethargy, irritability and poor concentration.

The CIBSE Code for Lighting recommends:

750 lux for mechanical workshops and supermarkets
500 lux for general offices, CAD work stations and conference/meeting rooms.
300 lux in rooms used for tasks such as filing

(400 lux is equivalent to sunrise or sunset on a clear day)

Temperature and Comfort

The law does not state a minimum or a maximum temperature but the HSE suggests that it should not drop below:

16°C in offices
13°C if the work is more physical

The CIBSE Guide A: Environmental Design, suggests that air-conditioned offices should be:

21-23°C in winter and 22-24°C in summer

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