What happens to employees in an unhealthy office environment
Singapore residents spend more than 50 percent of their lives in office spaces, with little awareness of how these daily habits and unhealthy office environments affect their bodies and overall health. Crouching over computers, getting little exercise or fresh air, and leaving various health symptoms unchecked in order to continue working are all contributing to decreased vitality in the population. The results appear in high rates of back problems, diseases, and common illnesses.
Harvard Health Blog likens extended daily hours of sitting to an early death. Even regular activity does not offset the negative effects of all-day sitting on the spine and muscles. According to GSK Consumer Healthcare, Singaporeans took an average of three days of medical leave in 2016 and reported pain in their necks, backs, and legs. Dr. Yeo Sow Nam, a pain management specialist at Mount Elizabeth Hospital, notes that minor pains such as body aches and headaches, when unreported and unchecked, begin to have a cumulative impact. This means that these symptoms must be reported as soon as possible, as well as prevented with ergonomic office furniture and healthier office habits. Heart Disease
Office workers don’t get enough heart-strengthening exercise. Describing the prevalence among baby boomers in Singapore toward heart disease as a “lifestyle disease,” Dr. Carolyn Lam of the department of cardiology at National Heart Centre Singapore suggests a cure of walking more, taking stairs and eating appropriate portions of food. Sixty-two percent of Malays were reported to have hypertension in 2016, as compared to 58 percent of Chinese and 43 percent of Indians. The same study reveals that Singaporeans suffer from heart failure 10 years earlier than in other countries on average.
Many office employees do not take days off when ill, for fear of it affecting their performance at work or upsetting their bosses or families. When sick employees work in a contained environment full of interacting colleagues, this causes common illnesses such as the cold to spread like wildfire. Diseases like Influenza and respiratory viruses can stay infectious for up to a week, which can easily turn them into office-wide pandemics.
How do I make my office healthier?
Taking steps to create healthier offices shows both instant and long-term payoff. Investing in ergonomic furniture, employee gym memberships, daily employee activities and outings, and healthy meals, as well as proper insurance, healthcare and health education for all workers, will increase productivity.
The bar for health is often set too low, with employees not getting proper long-term health support. Workers who reported health problems or symptoms but did not attend a doctor to treat the issue were reported as being 15 percent less productive. Pain sufferers cost the Singapore government more than $8.4 billion per year. When properly cared for, given the freedom to take sick leave, and encouraged to address any health issues right away, not only will the workforce be more productive, they will cost their office and the economy less overall.
To read more about office health, unhealthy office environments and for tips on how to make your office healthier, visit here.