Getting employees moving is the first pillar of an Active Workspace™ — not only will your employees be more healthy, but they’ll also be more productive. Here are three ways to promote movement in your office.

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With the exception of professional athletes, most workers are tethered to their desks all day and aren’t given the opportunity to move around.

For employees, this is a decidedly unhealthy situation. Movement — from a two-minute stroll around the office to sit-stand workstations that increase energy — can bring improvements in circulation, mental health and capacity, chronic back problems, cardiovascular performance, and more. For employers, a lack of employee movement renders an unproductive, inefficient staff that’s more likely to call in sick and become a burden to the company's health plan and bottom line. Small- to mid-sized businesses are especially at risk when employees call in sick, with 40 percent of them seeing a drop in efficiency.

Fortunately, this cyclical situation can be eradicated. By implementing an Active Workspace™ where movement — and the energy, productivity, and health benefits it creates — are ingrained in everything from office design to a company's culture, businesses can reignite their staff members by helping them get moving.

How to Get Your People Moving

From moving items like trash cans and printers to centralized locations, introducing water stations that keep people hydrated and promote more frequent bathroom breaks, or encouraging your employees to take the stairs, movement in the workspace doesn't have to be radical to be transformative. An Active Workspace is one that combines functional improvements with cultural directives. But to get started, employers need to understand why and know how to get their employees moving.

  1. Plan with employees in mind. Start by encouraging an open dialogue about changes needed within your workspace to help you understand the patterns and inclinations of your people. With this information, make a few small changes initially to test and evaluate the results before jumping in to major overhauls. The best Active Workspaces are those where the individual's and the company's needs are met at every level — not just one. Moreover, starting small and receiving feedback helps you decipher which adjustments benefit your employees and your company the most without overreaching your budget or squandering opportunity.
  2. Build your space for activity and functionality. You don’t have to construct a totally different space right away or lease a brand new office to promote movement. Simply introducing dynamic furniture that accommodates workflows, such as sit-stand desks or adjustable chairs, is a great and efficient start. That's because an Active Workspace isn't just about aesthetics — it's about functionality and activity. And if you have the room (and the budget), think about adding on-site gyms or exercise rooms to your office. Whatever you can do that encourages activity in the workspace and the work day goes a long way in boosting your employees' health and your company's efficiency.
  3. Think outside 'the box.' Even if you don't have room for an on-site yoga studio, you can still promote active experiences in the workspace by thinking — figuratively and literally — outside the box. For instance, by building interior walking trails or giving employees the freedom to pick their seats for the day, you allow employees to enjoy new spaces and move around in the office as their day-to-day workloads change. Most importantly, an Active Workspace doesn't have to be relegated to the office. Small- to mid-sized businesses, in particular, can ensure that they promote company movement outside the office to foster health, boost productivity, and stimulate their people, such as sponsoring employees who walk or run in community fundraisers or allocating a "walking hour" after lunch.

Creating movement through an Active Workspace may not be that difficult, but it results in some major changes that benefit everyone. Stay tuned as we dive deeper into the other three pillars of the Active Workspace in future blogs: Flexibility, Simplicity, and a Collaborative/Balanced culture.

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