Who knew sitting all day could be as bad for you as smoking? Until a few years ago when I read an article in Runners World, I didn’t.
I soon learned that people who sit all day are more likely to develop cancers, depression, and diabetes: and those with pre-existing conditions are shown to get worse. The findings hit close to home: no matter how fit you are, the more you sit the worse off you are. After learning about the detrimental effects, I decided it was time to make a change at WrightPlan’s offices. Today, we’re a standing desk only facility.
We implemented the change slowly, starting with timers. Every 20 minutes, we got up to walk around. George, our development lead, started by propping his keyboard up on a music stand, and Ryan, our senior developer, used an Ikea jerker desk. When WrightPlan moved offices, we purchased a suite of desks, anti-fatigue (wellness) mats, and tall stools. Since then, we haven’t looked back.
The impact to our health and work culture have definitely been undeniable. Overall, staff productivity has increased, but more importantly we all just feel better. As a runner, I used to get knee pain: since the changeover, I’ve seen a significant improvement. It’s not just a great lifestyle choice of course, but a smart business investment as well. Benefits to a healthy workplace include an increase in employee morale and ability to cope with stress. I can see this with our staff for sure. I’ve also noticed a change in our impromptu meetings. Before when someone would come in to my office they sat down and felt compelled to stay longer. Now, our meetings are both shorter and more efficient. We all stand and get to the point!
As a business owner with a family who travels a lot, a little more time can go a long way. And though making time to stay active in the midst of a busy schedule can be tricky, it’s important… especially when I’m travelling across time zones and lacking in energy and sleep. I always try and get in a run in the morning, and if I’m travelling with runners, we get out and run around the city. It’s a great way to take in the local scenery. Recently at the SC&RA annual conference, they organized a 5K fun run at 6:30 in the morning. It was great! When I’m flying solo, there’s usually a treadmill in the hotel I can use.
A healthy lifestyle is part of the office culture at WrightPlan. I’ve always got green tea (some of us still do coffee!) and fresh produce on hand for our team, and each member of the team gets some activity in throughout the day however they can. Ryan rides his bike to work almost every day (even through Canadian winters!), and I squeeze a run in at lunch if I don’t have time in the morning. Outside of work, we’re all making time with our families to stay active, too: Jeff, for example, has started going to the gym with his son, who has aspirations to play college football. See this candid shot of our team! From left to right: George (lead developer), Ryan (senior software engineer) Ty (software engineer).
My advice if you’re trying to encourage a healthier workplace is to start small, think big, and get the whole team involved. It’s definitely a juggling act to fit it all in, but the proof is in the productivity. Here’s to your health!
Michael Cox is a runner, a father, and WrightPlan’s CEO.