Brits work some of the longest work weeks in Europe and UK firms are beginning to buck that trend by offering their staff 4 day working weeks.
By reducing lunch hours and annual leave to 45 mins and by 20% respectively Gloucester based outfit Radioactive PR have been able to adopt a 4 day working week and MD Rich Leigh says of his newly reinvigorated staff base “There are two ways to make money in my line of work,” he says, “retain clients and get new ones. Miserable, tired staff can’t do either.”
Last year, more than half a million UK workers were signed off with work related stress or anxiety. Nick White, MD of Iwantastandingdesk.com said “encouraging good mental health in the workplace is absolutely imperative. Britain are notoriously behind trend internationally when it comes to integrating good work/life balance and positive healthy culture into their workplaces.”
“We work with a large number of companies who are invested in their employee’s well-being and frequently report to us that integrating standing desks, reduced work hours and other healthy work space initiatives result in their teams outputting higher quality work and demonstrating incredible loyalty. Not to mention all these measures increase recruitment quality as companies are striving more and more to improve their in-house offering to attract the best talent.”
France recently made it illegal for companies to expect their workers to answer emails out of hours but Britain just hasn’t kept up with our European neighbours and often work long hours often unpaid averaging 10 hours overtime a week and only 34 minute lunch hours.
The EU working time directive sets a limit of 48 working hours a week. Britain is the only EU member that allows workers to opt out of this and work longer hours. Trade unions however believe this is subject to “widespread abuse.”
Videogame companies are one of the worst culprits for insisting on crunch development cycles where staff often report on spending weeks to months not seeing their family’s due to the incredible pressure to meet deadlines. This is frequently regarded as “normal part of the job” but is affecting 76% of the industry despite being clearly unsustainable and damaging to long term productivity. According to research some workers report bouts of depression and low morale following the tech industries notorious crunch periods.
Standing meetings are often shorter, allowing firms to reduce wasted workplace time which research has shown is as damaging to productivity as cannabis smoking.
The Green party and Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress have both campaigned for the implementation of a 4 day working week citing increased automation as an opportunity for companies to spread the benefits of increased profits to its staff base. Should this begin to occur critics might argue that 4 day work weeks as a result of automation might inflate into the development of worklessness as companies begin to realise they need their staff base less and less.
Mark Price former MD of Waitrose believes the increase of the 4 day working week sends the wrong message and suggests that “work is bad and should be done less” he also believes that the public sector can ill afford to reduce working weeks in line with the private sector without increasing taxes to cover this. “I can’t imagine there is much of an appetite for that.”
Should 4 day work weeks be adopted in private sector could that make working for vital public services less appealing and have a negative impact to recruitment in services such as councils and NHS?
Wherever you land on the subject, there appears to be a need to improve our approach to work place health.
Crunch is bad for mental health but can we be more productive by working less? Latest research from Perpetual Guardian, a wealth management firm seems to suggest so as they report an increase in productivity by 24% in firms that take up the 4 days weeks. Following in his firm’s footsteps, Gloucester Managing Director Leigh asks the question “why not give it a try?”.
Professor Stuart Biddle of Loughborough University has undertaken a research study which followed six people over a year as they tried to keep up with regular exercise by attending a gym. His results determined that we would all benefit from building regular exercise into our daily routines instead of attempting to maintain a gruelling gym routine as 9 out of 10 people quit the gym only 6 weeks after joining even when subscribing for a whole year.
Professor Biddle speaking at the British Psychological Society's annual conference at Imperial College, London said "We have got an obesity problem because we have lost those little bits of everyday activity that we used to have, like walking to the shops or to work.”
"People's' engagement with exercise will fluctuate as a result of other events in their lives. Structured exercise at a gym can be too disruptive to everyday life.
"It's important to build exercise into your daily routine - there are many other alternatives to gym membership.”
“Research has shown that standing 3 or 4 hours a day would be activity equivalent of running 10 marathons a year.” Nick White, MD of iwantastandingdesk.com said “This only further cements our opinion that its time people consider spending some of that yearly gym membership money on a quality standing desk that they won’t want to walk away from in 6 weeks’ time.”
Nick Hancock, UK Health Secretary Will today speak at the Annual Meeting of the International Association of National Public Health Institutes to outline his strategy to include prevention as a priority in future NHS budgets and methods.
Integrating technology such as apps that consider lifestyle and location and other prevention methods such as standing desks, free fruit and lend a bike schemes in the workplace are all part of Mr Hancock’s new plan to reduce the burden on the NHS by investing in prevention rather than cure.
Ministers currently spend £97 billion on treating disease and only £8bn on preventing it.
The Sun reports that in his statement Nick Hancock will say “It can’t be right that today, in England, a boy born in the poorest parts of our country will die nine years earlier, and live 19 more years in poor health, than a boy born in the richest areas.
“That’s why prevention matters. That’s why we need a new 21st century focus on prevention.”
The Sun goes on to report that a green paper, titled “Prevention is better than cure”, will outline the vision for a “new 21st century focus on prevention”.
Standing Desks are an excellent measure for maintaining good health and amongst other preventative innovations are encouraged under the governments new plans to improve general health in the workplace.
More than one in five children are considered obese by the time the leave primary school according to new official NHS data.
In just over a decade child obesity rates have risen more than a third and are now at a record high. More than 24,000 children in England are now considered severely obese whilst a staggering 116,000 children are deemed obese.
Statistics captured are from the national childhood measurement programme.
"Obesity is a problem that has been decades in the making - one that will take significant effort across government, schools, families and wider society to address.” - Public Health Minister Steve Brine explained how the government has already removed a high level of sugar from children’s diets by enacting the sugar tax which has funded vital school sports and breakfast programmes and they have bold plans to half the amount of childhood obesity by 2030 by implementing Chapter Two of the Childhood Obesity Strategy such as preventing junk food advertising on television before 9pm.
Children with obesity face four times the risk of developing type 2 diabetes according to a study published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society. Whilst 41 Million children worldwide are regarded as obese according to research. Nick White Managing Director of iwantastandingdesk.com reflected on the growing trend “Without additional activity being including into daily learning hours, childhood obesity is going to become a problem at an educational level. Obesity becoming prevalent means lower activity levels and productivity reducing primary schools educational outcomes.”
Iwantastandingdesk.com offer standing desk schools trials here – Standing desks in schools encourage movement, improve productivity and help fidgety children engage whilst remaining active.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock who tomorrow will announce a new health initiative urging employers to push movement in the workplace, says he believes it’s the duty of schools, GPs, teachers and employers to promote daily activity as he describes standing desks and movement as a “miracle cure” that cuts the risk of many illnesses.
“Our message should be that movement is medicine.” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said at the International Society for Physical Activity and Health Congress in London.
Employers are encouraged to build movement into their workers days by buying them standing desks and encouraging standing for meetings. The health secretary who himself uses a standing desk has made the plea in a bid to counter the ever growing issue of sedentary lifestyles lowering our productivity and importantly our lifespans.
“Research has shown that sitting for eight hours a day could increase the risk of premature death by up to 60 percent” reports Laura Donnelly, Health Editor of The Daily Telegraph
The health secretary has encouraged companies to integrate sit-stand desks such as iwantastandingdesk.com’s range of Jack Desks and to avoid seated meetings where possible.
Mr Hancock explained that not only were these measures designed to encourage benefits to health but also productivity and multiple other gains.
“Workplaces can make a difference; encouraging breaks, offering standing desks, having standing meetings…I know from personal experience that having a standing desk can help you get some exercise and improve your productivity”
Not only schools and businesses but GPs are also encouraged by Mr Hancock to push the benefits of standing and movement. “Doctors should not be afraid to tell patients that they need to be more active,” he told the London summit.
The health secretary has since urged businesses to also offer free fruit to reduce the burden on the NHS and encourage healthy living.
Sources: The Daily Telegraph , Daily Mail
Sitting for hours on end is linked to nine more cancers than we thought, according to the cancer expert who is helping to re-write the exercise guidelines. Charles E Matthews, an epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute, warns we need more physical activity than we thought - but more importantly, we need to sit less.
Just one hour of TV a day puts even the most active of us at a higher risk of not just breast and colon cancer - which we already knew - but also nine other cancers including lung and head or neck.
"Watching TV is the major competitor to going out and being more active," he told the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Austin, Texas. "This is where moderate activity like a brisk walk or things around the house come in. Anything that is not sitting is good."
Now we're not suggesting standing and watching the TV at home but if you've been non-sedentary at work using a standing desk you can afford some rest time watching your favourite TV programme for an hour or so!
Today we dropped off two EIGER Pro Standing Desks to one of the UK's leading employers to trial in their headquarters. They will be used in flexible working areas (hot desks) where most employees are laptop based. This is perfect for the EIGER Pro.
We couldn't believe the size of the car park and it was totally full, implicating that most employees sit down to get to work. The lifts were in full use and every office area we saw was full of inactive computer workers, sat down.
This is the norm but when you see it on such a large scale it's frightening.
When we told a few of the employees they were twice as likely to have a cardio health issue compared to a active manual worker they were shocked. They couldn't believe that the effects of just standing for 3 hours a day over a working year will burn more calories than running 10 marathons!
We've got a good feeling about this company and that active working will be met positively with the help of our EIGER Pro Standing Desk.
UKactive Chair Tanni Grey-Thompson appeared on international news network CNBC to urge the Government to tackle the ‘toxic’ toll of sedentary working cultures by incentivising employees to be active.
The legendary Paralympian and cross-bench peer noted that ‘physical inactivity costs the UK £20bn each year and is the cause of 37,000 premature deaths’ with desk-bound office culture fuelling the mounting inactivity crisis.
Statistics show that sitting at a desk for eight hours a day increases the risk of premature death by up to 60 per cent and is a major cause of a myriad of health problems.
Interviewed on major American news channel CNBC’s mid-morning show, Tanni called on the government to do more to promote workplace physical activity by incentivising active pursuits such as gym passes, fitness equipment and accessories.
Increasingly busy schedules for workers mean it’s tougher than ever to maintain an active lifestyle. Physical inactivity is one of the biggest drivers of ill-health, leading to high absenteeism rates (which cost the UK £29bn a year) and reduced productivity – which all conspire to hit bottom lines.
Tanni also urged the public to try and ‘take on the responsibility to get active’, through small or incremental lifestyle changes. This could be as little as ‘getting off the bus one stop early’ she said, or simply ‘walking between meetings’.
Less time sat at a desk has superb long term health benefits. Standing is a highly effective low level form of activity. So a standing desk makes perfect sense.
Do your job, run your business and improve your health at the same time!
Today we spent the morning with Alex De Palma shooting the all new EIGER Pro Standing Desk in a white screen studio. It's a highly organised affair. Lighting, positioning and a detailed schedule of all the shots we need to showcase the product effectively.
We can't wait to see the results and get them on the website asap!
Your spine is practically begging you to stand. An upright position puts the discs in your lower back in proper alignment and minimizes the pressure they endure. Sitting, on the other hand, forces the vertebrae to crunch down onto each other and put a lot more force, increasing the risk of chronic lower back pain.
When you're sitting, your spine is compressing. In space, you get taller by 1-2 inches, and if you lay in bed, you'll also get taller, because your discs are expanding. But when astronauts return from space or people get out of bed, their vertebrae collapse onto each other and cause pain. This is also happening when you sit for a long period of time.
One big culprit of the pain from a compressed spine is the damage done to the cushioning between the discs.
The muscles have weakened and the vertebrae start collapsing, squeezing the padding and nerves between the discs. This is a huge source of pain.
So less time in the chair and using a standing desk has major benefits for the long term health of your spine.
Ask anyone who has permanent back issues what they’d do to solve them. We guarantee you they’ll reply….anything!
Don’t wait for it to happen before you do anything. Get out of the chair and get standing now!