Do Office Chairs Stifle Creativity?

Imagine an office without chairs? Impossible! Chairs are an integral part of any workplace. And it has been shown that the average worker spends about eight hours in their chair every working day.

This has given rise to many innovations to make office chairs more comfortable. Today, we have chairs that are more flexible and can adjust to different heights and positions for maximum comfort. And they eradicate the discomfort and or back pain and injuries from sitting for a long period of time – physical inactivity at work.

Surprisingly, sitting in these chairs is not all it takes to promote creativity and exercise among employees. It rather exposes one to the risk of obesity and cardiovascular diseases, and also decreases productivity. The emergence of social media and other channels of digital communication enable people to do their job and even reach out to their colleagues that are a few meters away from the comfort of their chair. This has caused a high level of sedentary lifestyle among workers. People now prefer to share ideas and information through their electronic devices rather than interacting with their colleagues.

This sharp decline in physical activity at work stifles creativity and increases the healthcare package of many companies.

Stanford research on creativity and exercise

In 2014, some group of researchers conducted four experiments to prove the effect of walking on creativity. In one of the experiments, there was a 60% increase in the creative output of the participants that were walking compared to those sitting. It was also found that the participants were able to create more novel uses when they walk than when they were sited.

Research by Andrew Knight and Markus Baer

In an experimental study carried out by Andrew Knight and Markus Baer, 54 groups were made to carry out some creative tasks in a non-sedentary work setting. The study found that such working environment was able to foster group intimacy and openness where the different groups were able to interact freely and share ideas and information.

Company’s profitability vs. redesigning

Profit is essential to a sustained business growth. Successful companies are always open to innovations and improving their standards to maintain profitability. And redesigning their office model happens to be one of those channels. Today, some companies have redesigned their working environment to accommodate more walking activities and lesser sedentary workflow, which also supports creativity and exercise in the lifestyle of their employees. Apple recently gave all its employees a standing desk as part of its measures to promote creativity and exercise while averting the dangers of physical inactivity at work

Health risks of a primarily sedentary lifestyle

The dangers of a sedentary lifestyle can never be overemphasized. Physical inactivity at work poses a great danger to the health of employees, which also leads to increase cost in health care for the employers.

It has been shown that workers with primarily sedentary lifestyle are prone to suffer diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and are susceptible to lung, colon and endometrial cancer.

Most duties at work are performed while sitting down and to promote a healthy lifestyle, employers must ensure that their workers are not physically inactive at work. This would not be achieved by just providing adjustable or standing desks. There is a need for walking breaks or a scheduled time for everyone to walk around.

Priyansha Mistry
Currently editor at The HR Digest Magazine. She helps HR professionals identify issues with their talent management and employment law. | Priyansha tweets at @PriyanshaMistry

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