Is your office fit for work?

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Back in July politicians across all of the main political parties were challenged to respond to the ever-growing burden of ill-health on the UK workforce.  The challenge came from Fit For Work UK, a coalition of employers, healthcare workers, policy makers and patient groups.  Fit For Work UK has warned that, by 2030, around half of UK workers will have at least one chronic health condition which will affect their productivity at work, leading to an impact upon the ability of the UK economy to remain competitive.

With this in mind, we’ve read some interesting figures which show that 1 in 5 office workers have admitted to not leaving their desk all day, not even to eat their lunch.  Staying put for long periods is not only bad for morale and health; it can also have a huge impact on productivity.  We often talk about the links between good office design and productivity – over the years a huge amount of research has been carried out into the health and psychological benefits of working in a well-designed office and every single element of office design contributes to how well a team works.

There is a wide range of things you can do to make positive improvements to the design of an office – improvements that will not only contribute to the health and wellbeing of your staff, they’ll help to improve productivity too.

If you spend long periods sitting at your desk – don’t.  Don’t sit for more than 30 to 40 minutes at a time before getting up, stretching, walking around or getting a drink.  An ergonomic office chair is a worthwhile investment because if you do spend long periods sitting, an ergonomic chair will help you achieve the best possible posture.  Take time to make sure the chair is properly adjusted and that your desk is at the correct height to enable you to sit with your feet flat on the ground and your elbows level with the desk top.

The addition of a few plants in the office will not only improve the look of your office, plants can help to increase productivity, improve wellbeing and encourage creativity.  Drink plenty of water and by plenty we mean either 8 x 200ml glasses for ladies or 10 x 200ml glasses for men.  Drinking lots of water will boost your energy and reduce headaches.

Getting the office lighting just right can be tricky and most offices have been much improved by the demise of the dreaded fluorescent strip light.  The recommended levels for office lighting are 300 lux in rooms which are used for jobs such as filing, 500 lux for general office work, meeting rooms or conference rooms and 750 lux for workshops or supermarkets.  Bad lighting at work can lead to a whole host of unpleasant symptoms including migraines, irritability, eyestrain and poor concentration.

Last and by no means least is the temperature of the office.  If you’ve ever worked in an office that’s far too hot or cold you’ll know how difficult it can be to concentrate and work productively.  The law doesn’t state a minimum or maximum temperature at work but the HSE recommends that the temperature shouldn’t drop below 16˚c in normal office environments.  For air-conditioned offices, the recommended temperature range is 21 to 23˚c during the winter and 22 to 24˚c during the summer.

Posted September 23, 2014

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