In a shocking revelation, data compiled by Banner, a leading workplace solutions provider, has unveiled that the average office worker has become an unwitting “sitting expert.”
The statistics indicate that office-based employees are projected to spend an astonishing 1,300 hours seated at their desks this year alone.
This figure increases exponentially, with over 10,000 hours amassed just eight years into their careers, and a staggering 53,000 hours by the time they retire.
Despite growing awareness of the impact of sedentary lifestyles on health and well-being, the research shows that desk-bound employees are estimated to dedicate approximately 70 percent of their working day to sitting. This extended period of inactivity is closely associated with various health issues, including backaches, hip pain, and chair discomfort. Notably, searches for these symptoms have seen a noticeable surge.
Pro at sitting five times over in our careers
Jason Thomas, Strategic Sales Manager at Banner, expressed concern over these findings, stating, “As it’s often cited that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert within a given field, most of us will be a pro at sitting five times over by the time we retire. With numerous health issues associated with long-term sitting, this is a growing concern for employers across the UK.”
Encouragingly, the data also highlights a growing interest in potential solutions to combat the negative effects of prolonged sitting. Searches for “standing desk” and “ergonomic chair” have risen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, indicating that workers are becoming more proactive in addressing the health implications associated with a sedentary work routine.
What responsibilities do employers have here?
Thomas further emphasised that employers have a vital role to play in fostering healthier workplaces. Recommending practical measures to instigate change, he stated, “To encourage a healthier workplace, employers should make sure office and home work-stations are set up with health and wellbeing in mind. It’s great to see standing desks and under-desk treadmills being more widely adopted in recent years, but there’s more that can be done.”
He suggested implementing cultural shifts such as walking competitions, no-chair meeting rooms, discounted gym memberships, and lunchtime yoga classes to motivate employees to embrace a more active work routine. These efforts, he argued, could lead to a healthier and more productive workforce while reducing long-term absenteeism.
Thomas concluded, “A healthier workforce will improve productivity, long-term absenteeism and demonstrates that as an employer, you have your employee’s back – so to speak!”
In a world increasingly dominated by screens and sedentary roles, the data from Banner underscores the urgent need for individuals and organisations to take proactive steps towards improving employee well-being, productivity, and overall quality of life in the workplace.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.