Work Health Balance: How workplace productivity can be increased

Published: February 23, 2018 1:59 PM

In spite of working the longest hours globally, Indian employees are amongst the most optimistic in the world. It is time for employers to do their bit to provide employees with reasons to stay healthy, optimistic, and productive in today’s challenging jobs.

Work Health Balance, workplace productivity, employees, employers, employee efficiency, millennial Indian employees, long working hours, Google, Uber, Procter & GambleCoupled with questionable lifestyle choices while at work, Indian employees are settling into unhealthy, sedentary lifestyles.

With an average 52-hour work week, millennial Indian employees have the longest working hours amongst their global peers. Spending nearly a third of their entire week at the workplace, and dealing with the stresses and pressures of their job has enormous negative impacts upon their health. Coupled with questionable lifestyle choices while at work – unhealthy snacks, an overindulgence in caffeine, and a tendency to not hydrate sufficiently – Indian employees are settling into unhealthy, sedentary lifestyles. In the medium and long term, these physical demands they are making upon their bodies are bound to show themselves in a variety of ailments and symptoms.

Research has shown that globally 77% of productivity loss at organizations can be traced to health-related factors. USD 63.2 billion is the estimated annual cost to US businesses due to sleep deprivation alone; and 90% of business leaders agreed that wellness directly impacted work performance and productivity. In such circumstances, employers should be expending considerable time and effort in ensuring that they are providing a positive work environment for their employees, as this will increase productivity and satisfaction for them.

Walk into most offices in India, and you’ll see a familiar sight – rows of workstations, monitors brightly lit, and several men and women intently peering into their screens. For many employees, the source of office-related health maladies have much to do with how they spend their time at work. Their posture and placement of their hands, eyes, shoulders, and wrists relative to their monitors are the source of sprains, headaches, and dry eyes. People who sit for most of the day are 54% more likely to die of heart attacks; the threat of disease is greatly reduced for those who occasionally move from their seats, according to the Pennington Biomedical Research Center and the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Further, according to WebMD, between 50% to 90% of people who work at a computer screen have at least some symptoms – blurred vision, dry and red eyes, eye irritation, headaches, or neck and back pain.

The entire office setup often unintentionally promotes other unhealthy habits. Few healthy eating options might encourage employees to eat heavy meals and fried foods, and their lack of activity might compound the impact of such a diet. One of the best pieces of advice for being healthy at work entails taking frequent breaks, as the frequent movement aids circulation and prevents sore and fatigued muscles. However, most offices lack open spaces, which discourages frequent breaks. While people who are health conscious might do some light exercises at their workstations, the prospect of attempting calisthenics while being visible to colleagues would make many strong people balk.

How, then, can employers ensure a working environment that is conducive to the overall physical well-being of their employees? The most important aspect of such a conducive and productive place for work would be in the implicit design of an office space. An open office area, with ergonomic seating and well-designed workstations, could help employees combat the physical and mental fatigue of working long hours at their seats. A well-equipped cafeteria could ensure healthy snacking options for everyone, while also giving them a nice space for taking a break and catching up with their peers over a refreshing glass of fruit juice. A gym within the office premises can certainly provide the perfect avenue for exercising and healthy activities, helping employees get a dose of energy for subsequent work.

To encourage frequent breaks and a more productive time at the office, a small snooze room or sleeping area for naps on the job are quite handy, and many of the world’s leading companies – Google, Uber, Procter & Gamble, amongst others – have now ensured a convenient and comfortable space for their employees to catch a power nap. It is imperative for employers to immediately move to provide such amenities and facilities in their office.

Offices should be designed with employee well-being in mind. And if finding, procuring, or furnishing such an office for your company seems to be too expensive, consider acquiring office space from premium serviced office space providers. These providers have exceptionally well-designed offices, with great amenities and facilities that promote a better work-health balance. In spite of working the longest hours globally, Indian employees are amongst the most optimistic in the world – it is time for employers to do their bit to provide employees with reasons to stay healthy, optimistic, and productive in today’s challenging jobs.

(By Rahul Agrawal, Founder & CEO, Workspace)

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