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JPA Workspaces2024 Jun5 min read

How Physically Active Workstations Are Revolutionising Office Employee Wellbeing

Studies have shown a great correlation between workplaces and employee health. In Gensler’s recent study, over 90% of employees in high-performing workplaces reported that their workspaces had a significant impact on their wellness and job satisfaction. Furthermore, research by McKinsey demonstrated that employees facing challenges in mental health and well-being were four times more likely to leave their companies compared to their counterparts. Encouraging physical activity in the workplace therefore plays an important role in talent retention and employee satisfaction at the workplace. 

With UK Companies losing up to £6.6 Billion in physical inactivity costs and the average office employee in the UK being sedentary for approximately 9 hours a day, incorporating active workstations presents itself as a solution that offers multiple benefits to both the employer and the employees. Active workstations offer ergonomic furniture options with height adjustment capabilities, allowing for comfortable working while sitting, standing or walking. They are highly convenient in hybrid workplaces where furniture is shared by employees with different height ranges.
That said, here is how physically active workstations are revolutionising the workplace and employee wellbeing.


  • Productivity Boost

Active workstations have been proven to increase workplace productivity. Not only do physically inactive employees lose up to 4.5 work days annually in presenteeism and absence, but they also experience 27% more sick days.

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When designing your active workstations for higher productivity, ensure to avoid noisy machines that can cause acoustic distraction. Knowing which equipment to use for which task can also allow you to maximise physical activity without compromising productivity. For instance, treadmill workstations are better adapted for making those long phone calls or holding virtual meetings, as an alternative to walking meetings, rather than for typing emails or reports. A more stationary sit-stand desk can offer a good break from sitting while equally allowing you to proceed with more involving computer tasks.

Additionally, the use of flexible workstations can further enhance productivity by influencing how a space is utilised. For example, incorporating larger, height-adjustable tables promotes movement during meetings, discouraging prolonged discussions and fostering quicker, more focused gatherings. This approach not only encourages physical activity but also contributes to a dynamic and efficient work environment. 
The key is to approach the design process by reverse engineering, considering how the space will be utilised and tailoring the design to fit those practical considerations.

Wellness spaces, such as yoga or fitness areas, are becoming integral components of office design. Incorporating these spaces requires careful planning and specific furniture to support such activities. However, implementing such changes may also necessitate a cultural shift within the company, especially for those transitioning from traditional office setups to environments that promote physical activity. 


  • Physical Health

Sitting for over 6 hours at a desk generally impairs vascular function, and a ten-minute break after prolonged sitting can go a long way in restoring vascular health. Any form of movement, including fidgeting in the seat, or sitting on a bouncy yoga ball for a while when working can make a huge difference. 

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Moreover, using a standing desk can burn 24 more calories in 3 hours compared to sitting, while a thirty-minute walk can burn nearly 100 extra calories per day. Installing active workstations such as sit-stand desks can allow employees to adjust seamlessly from sitting to standing breaks every hour, reducing muscular strain that often causes back and neck pain.  

“What is interesting is that when individuals work while standing, they become more approachable, fostering an open and inviting atmosphere. This encourages a more collaborative approach to work right at their desks, offering a completely different perspective on the work environment. Sitting down may create a closed-off feeling, whereas standing up brings openness and contributes to a more comfortable office ambiance." Says Aimee Curtis, Head of Business Development at JPA Workspaces.


  • Mental Health

The UK loses over 70 Million work days as a result of mental health. Additionally, poor mental health is the largest driver of productivity loss, causing 1 trillion dollars’ worth of losses globally. Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report reflects that on average, 39% of Europe’s workforce experience stress in a day. There is a need for stress management outlets in the workplace, and active workstations can help with that. 
In addition to incorporating physical activity within the workplace through initiatives such as bicycle and treadmill workstations and stress-relief tools, integrating collaborative and recreational elements like dart boards, table tennis, or even designated yoga studios can contribute significantly to enhancing mental health in the workplace. These features not only provide employees with opportunities for enjoyable breaks but also foster team spirit and encourage interactions among colleagues.


  • Improved Workplace Culture and Experience

A study by Gensler showed that fitness initiatives could increase work experience scores by 14% and workplace performance by 12%. Incorporating active workstations in the workplace is a reflection of the company’s value for their employee health. Consequently, it can contribute to boosting morale, improving workplace culture and talent retention, and ultimately increasing employee engagement by approximately 3.8 times.  

Active workstations can create a positive work environment for productivity and collaboration by improving the mental and physical health of employees. Introducing pedometer programs and activity trackers in the workplace can further help employees build community and a sense of belonging from shared goals and values. 
However, it's essential to recognise that a cultural shift is equally important. Mere placement of recreational amenities like a table tennis table or a pool table in the office may not guarantee usage unless employees are aware of its acceptability and the rules of engagement.


  • Cost-Effective Solution

Compared to other health initiatives in the workplace, physically active workstations are relatively more affordable than offering gym memberships to address sedentary behaviour in the workplace.
Starting small by incorporating shareable under-desk bikes, elliptical machines and foldable treadmills can allow companies to break down the initial cost into more practical investments in the workplace. With a £34 return projected for every £1 invested in employee wellbeing initiatives, companies can later invest in more advanced electric workstations over time.

“In consulting with clients about the implementation of furniture or workspace design, we encounter the challenge of interpreting their varied preferences and goals. The process involves engaging in conversations to understand their objectives, situation, and desired outcomes. For larger projects, some clients may conduct independent surveys, but our role is to guide them through the visualisation and iteration process.” commented Agris Veinbergs, Head of Design at JPA workspaces.

Get Started with JPA Workspaces

The popularity and demand for physically active workstations have incredibly increased post-pandemic, as the UK workforce progressively appreciates its benefits in the hybrid workplace. With over 50 years of experience in sustainable furniture solutions, JPA Workspaces has honed expertise in creating employee-centric workspaces that promote well-being and productivity. Contact us today to learn how we can design your office spaces for physical movement inclusion and occupational health promotion. 

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