Stand up for the sitters
Are you sitting comfortably? Hopefully not because today is 'On Your Feet Britain' - a campaign run by Get Britain Standing, aimed at urging us all to avoid the dangers of sitting too much.
For some, in roles which require moving as a matter of course it's business as usual, but for people who regularly sit for long periods of time it's a hard habit to break.
What about those for whom the choice whether to sit or stand is restricted by the nature of work? Thinking of those who work in contact centres the very nature of the role is to help customers, often with complex needs, handling one enquiry after another in quick succession. No other function is subject to such stringent levels of productivity checking, with terms such as idle rates used to indicate 'more productivity required please.'
Despite helpful hints about standing every so often and taking regular breaks, it is arguably less practical when demand for your time is high, and your working environment is designed in the sitting position. The trading currency term used, 'seat' is synonymous with … well just that.
This is where organisations need to prioritise the health and well-being of their staff, not to mention customer satisfaction levels, by innovating and adopting new technologies like headsets which allow people the freedom to move as they work, and perhaps desks which are designed for standing. Victoria Beckham, that well known style icon has a desk to die for - a treadmill that allows her to keep fit and multi-task all at once - unlikely that we will see such large scale investment for the masses, however something worth aspiring to.
'Sitting is the new smoking' is a phrase coined by health experts here and in the USA as they warn of a plethora of illnesses and diseases including diabetes heart disease, and colon cancer, caused by our sedentary lives.
Gavin Bradley Director of Get Britain Standing says, “You can run marathons and cycle to work but if you sit for 8 hours at work you cannot undo the damage that this causes.”
This week the food industry was accused of brainwashing the public on obesity risks, as leading doctors wrote in the Journal of Sports Medicine. They claim that our change in diet contributes more to obesity than lack of exercise. So it's not just the seats but perhaps the goody vending machines that need refreshed.
It seems that our European colleagues are more advanced in some aspects of well-being. Standing desks are already much more common in Scandinavia, where staff have the right to work standing up. In the UK they are usually seen as treatment tools for patients who already suffer from back problems, rather than a way to prevent issues in later life.
Get Britain Standing aims to change that. Bradley has a vision that within 20 years, more than 20% of the workforce – one in five staff – will spend more of their day working at a standing desk. Not only would that make them happier and healthier, it would make them more productive too.
As customer service becomes more fragmented with home-working models, multi-channel and a growing need for specialists on the move, we have an ideal opportunity to innovate and to match the needs of a sector restless for change to a mobile customer base requiring expertise whenever they need it.