The leading cause of absence from work is back pain. It costs the economy PS5Billion a year (PS554 for each employee). This is a common problem that affects many people. Therefore, it’s important to make changes. How can we stop office back pain? A poorly designed office is more likely to cause discomfort for employees.
Badly designed offices are places where people feel unsafe.
- You are rooted in the same place throughout the day.
- Do not have access to exercise facilities
- They must sit down in order to complete their tasks.
- Do small, repetitive movements throughout the day.
- Make use of handheld technology.
- Do not feel pressured to arrive early or stay late.
- You can eat at their desks.
- Poor postures are not a good idea.
- Experience mental stress.
- You are too tired to exercise at night.
- Over time, you will gain weight.
All of these factors not only impact employees’ productivity and mood, but also their health. Employers should take a close look at their workplace environment to not only reduce absenteeism or other incidents but also to protect their employees.
We are determined to show that it is possible to make an office more productive and healthier. We know that back pain is a leading cause of workplace absence and costs the economy PS5Billion a year (PS554 for each employee). It’s well worth the initial investment. These are 13 things you can do to create a pain-free workplace.
1. Water is vital – make sure your office has more water
All employees are legally required to supply safe drinking water. Are we drinking enough water? Experts believe that back pain can be caused and exacerbated by dehydration. A study by Dr. Toby Mundel, and a group of scientists from New Zealand’s Massey University showed that participants who were dehydrated had higher pain ratings.
Although we cannot guarantee that water will prevent back pain, we know that staying hydrated has many benefits, especially for those working in offices that are often required to work long hours. Insufficient water intake can cause:
- Dry lips, mouth, and eyes
Consider putting up posters and reminding people to drink more water.
2. Counting steps: Make breaks count
The majority of office work is sedentary. Studies show that sitting for more than six hours per day can increase your risk of developing diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and other musculoskeletal conditions (MSDs), including back pain.
This effect can be reversed by small, frequent movements. Encourage employees to take frequent breaks and to get up more often. To encourage employees to take breaks and get up more often, you could give out pedometers (step counters), or hold competitions to see who can accumulate the most steps.
3. Reach for the stars – Stretch your arms!
Numerous studies have shown the physical benefits of stretching at work.
Hire a pilates or yoga instructor to help staff learn stretches to incorporate into their daily lives to improve flexibility, reduce muscle tension, and decrease the chance of musculoskeletal injuries. Get more inspiration by downloading our Workstation Exercises helpsheet .
4. Turn a dusty meeting space into an exercise room
You can transform an area in your office into a basic gym if you have it. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on expensive equipment. Some of the most effective exercises require very basic tools, such as planks, press-ups, and sit-ups. Simple, low-cost equipment includes:
- yoga mats
- gym balls
- Skipping ropes
To encourage staff to make use of this space, email them weekly exercise suggestions for all abilities. Even a short workout can help prevent back pain.
5. Ergonomic seating can save you money over the long-term
For office back pain, good ergonomic task seats are essential. These chairs are designed to support the spine properly and have moving parts that can adjust to different bodies.
Chairs that are ergonomically designed don’t need to be costly. They can actually save you money over the long-term, according to us.
6. Tech neck-busters – straighten up your habits
Your employees who use smartphones, tablets, and laptops for work are at greater risk of developing what has been called ‘tech neck’. To use these devices quickly, many people adopt a head-hanging posture that can cause back pains, aches, and other long-term problems.
7. Liberate your desk jockeys
Our computers don’t have to be sat down. You can work just as well standing up.
We created a desk that could be adjusted to adjust from a sitting position to standing. This allowed users to move easily between the two. The desk can be adjusted from a sitting to a standing height so users can move around throughout the day. This increases activity and reduces the chance of developing back pain.
8. Step up your interior design
Your office layout directly impacts people’s daily habits and behaviours. What can you do to get people moving more? Put the photocopiers and printers upstairs. You can also put the water cooler farther away. It might seem counterproductive at first, as it takes up valuable time. These small steps can add up and lead to happy, healthy employees. Isn’t that worth it?
9. Wellness programs – A concerted effort for better office life
A wellness program addresses all aspects of office life. It usually involves a consultant visiting to assess the workplace and making recommendations on how to improve it. The core question of any wellness program is: How can we make the workplace more productive, happy, and healthy?
10. DSE Assessments – A few simple changes can transform an office
DSE regulations must be followed by all organisations where people frequently use display screen equipment (computers/laptops/tablets etc.). DSE is not a mere formality. An expert can quickly assess the situation and identify potential problems before they become more serious and costly.
DSE is about prevention. For minimal expenditure, your organization could save a lot of time, money, and resources in the long-term.
11. Nutrition – fuelling performance
Being overweight can cause and worsen back pain. Your spine will feel more pressure the more weight you have. Office life isn’t conducive to weight loss. If we sit down all day, eating sugary or fatty snacks all day, our bodies are more likely to retain that fat.
Employers can’t control what employees eat but they can encourage healthy eating. You might offer a fruit snack to all employees so that when they feel the need to snack, they can choose to avoid sugary treats such as chocolate bars.
12. Good Microbreaks
Microbreaks keep your body moving. Even merely standing up for a stretch can increase your pulse rate and improve blood flow.
Encourage staff to talk to each other instead of chatting via email or messaging. It’s fine to take a short walk around the building or take a few minutes to get some fresh air. These conscious decisions make us more alert and active, and they also help us to get rid of bad postures that can lead to back pain.
13. Agile working policy
Agile working has become a popular concept in office life. This concept revolves around the notion that office jobs can be done anywhere, so why should people be confined to their desks?
Remote working and flexible hours can not only improve work-life balance and mood, but also encourage more physical activity. The idea of a static desk is what keeps us so sedentary. Imagine if we could move around the office from one workspace to another throughout the day. Imagine if we could work remotely from our homes, and be able to go to a cafe in the morning.
Staff who travel for work are expected to be healthy, fit, and comfortable. Provide lumbar roll and encourage frequent stop-offs. Agile working goes beyond being able work when and where you want. It’s also about stimulating your mind and constantly changing the workplace dynamic to encourage innovation and prevent stagnation.