On the Move

The productivity and engagement of staff should be a top priority for businesses simply because it drives the profitability of the company and there are many innovative businesses globally who look for unique ways of doing this. Stand up desks and fit balls are now more common in the workplace than ever before but a finance company in the US has taken it to a new level.

This company undertook a year long study of their finance workers using a treadmill desk. They found that the productivity of 40 treadmill users dropped at first as they struggled to master typing and manipulating a mouse while walking at speeds of up to two miles per hour. That speed doesn’t seem fast on paper but try typing while moving and I bet it seems a little trickier.  Despite the initial productivity drop, within four to six months, all three measures of performance – quality and quantity of work, and quality of interactions with colleagues – rose steadily, according to weekly surveys of participants.

Treadmill desks, standing conferences and walking meetings are all gaining attention, with research showing that being desk-bound at work for long periods poses a health and safety risk to workers. The research also shows that extended sitting was a separate risk factor from not getting enough daily physical activity.

For tasks like solving problems or taking calls, walking can be useful because it increases blood flow to the brain, but there could be downsides too. The Wall Street Journal wrote about treadmill desks last year and discussed the possibility of falls and injuries and painful shocks from the machines build-up of static.

Of course, there are some types of jobs that are not well suited for a treadmill desk including those that involve fine-motor tasks such as threading a needle or using tools that might sever body pieces.

If a treadmill desk has not appeared at your workplace as yet, there are other things you can do to reduce your sitting time.  Standing to talk on the phone, using an adjustable desk that allows sitting or standing, walking to speak to a colleague rather than emailing or simply taking regular breaks away from your desk are all good ways of reducing your sitting time.

Are you using an innovative way of moving more at work or home?