Don’t just sit there…

It is not a newsflash that health and wellness are hot topics these days. From health reform, holistic medicine, fitness and diet trends to campaigns such as Let’s Move we are increasingly aware of how life choices and environmental conditions are impacting our health. For a society that is constantly connected and on-the-go, it may seem hard to believe that our health and well-being is being impacted by the amount of sitting we do each day.

Schroeder Solutions, in collaboration with AIS (Affordable Interior Systems) and the Wellness Council of Wisconsin, recently completed a Work Well campaign to bring attention to the health impact of prolonged sitting and the benefits of height adjustable office furniture in the work environment. But this is only one of the issues affecting the health of today’s workforce. Many businesses and organizations are examining policies, procedures, amenities and office conditions in order to find ways to better promote wellness in the workplace.

While the finalists of the Work Well campaign – The Starr Group, The Journal Times and Lawrence University – will be able to continue their healthy office efforts with the addition of a complementary workstation or private office, we wanted to encourage other companies to join us in this Work Well movement. If you are looking for ways to improve your work environment, then consider the following list as opportunities to Work Well.

Natural light – Creating connections to the outdoors and penetrating workspaces with natural light impacts the mood and productivity of employees.

Proper lighting – In addition to natural light, office environments need to provide a variety of light levels to support different work functions. The proper light levels prevent employees from straining their eyes, which supports comfort, productivity and efficient work functions.

Workout area/workout classes – Providing access or opportunities for physical exercise (whether at the office or in collaboration with a local fitness center) sets an example for your team and demonstrates your commitment to wellness. It communicates that you care about the well-being of your employees.

Bike trails or hiking paths close by – Some companies choose their location based on wellness amenities such as bike trails and hiking paths. This provides opportunities for exercise as well as access to the outdoors, both benefitting employee health.

Healthy food/snacks available – While coffee carafes and soda machines have been a staple in office environments for years, healthy food options are gaining momentum. The bagels, donuts, cookies and other treats may be hard to resist, but more and more people are craving healthy food alternatives. Stocking the office kitchen or break area with a supply of healthy snacks makes a statement, provides a choice and encourages a healthy lifestyle.

High quality water – How easy is it to forget to drink water? While coffee and soda offer flavor and caffeine, water keeps the body hydrated. Provide a quality water option, so employees can refuel properly.

Pleasant colors – Environmental factors impact mood and productivity. Selecting the right color combinations for specific work areas can make all the difference. There is a psychology behind color selections. See how color can impact your team.

Pleasant scent – Aromas are selected and branded for retail and hospitality environments all of the time. The right scent can influence purchasing habits and evoke feelings. Think about a scent that can improve your work environment.

Full service kitchen – Sometimes people just want to make their own lunch or snack. By providing a full service kitchen you are not limiting your employees to eating out, microwaveable meals or other unhealthy alternatives. Providing options and a sense of control supports your team.

Good temperature control – He is too hot; she is too cold. One side of the building is a sauna, while the other side requires people to bring in a space heater. Creating an office environment with the proper temperature control makes it a happier, healthier place to be.

Natural plants – Remember a connection to nature makes the work environment a better place. Real plants provide that connection and support air quality.

Artwork – The right art selections can inspire and put a smile on someone’s face. Art can also create opportunities for conversation and socialization. Happy workers are healthier workers, so try adding a little art into their lives.

Adjustable/Ergonomic office furniture – Remember, this conversation began with the negative impact of sitting on the health of today’s office worker. A variety of furniture options, both desking and seating products, address the diverse ergonomic needs of your workforce. Different body types and sizes as well as providing the flexibility to sit or stand while you work can be addressed with the right furniture selections.

Scott Gierhahn is founder and president of Schroeder Solutions in New Berlin.

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