Yep, you read that headline correctly. A third-world country has something to teach the U.S. and all Western cultures about healthy office living.
Just this month, the Philippines’ Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) issued Department Order No. 184 which requires any employer to provide standing breaks for employees whose jobs require them to sit for long periods of time.
Under the new law, employers must provide their employees with 5-minute breaks for every two hours of sitting and “encourage workers to reduce sedentary work by interrupting sitting time and substitute it with standing or walking”. Additionally, employers must also “conduct awareness raising on the health effects of prolonged sitting and sedentary work.”
So, what can that teach us?
#1 - It’s time to get serious about office health in the U.S.
Workplace safety organizations in the U.S. (like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ie. OHSA) have been focused on workplace safety and healthy working conditions for more dangerous working environments; however, they’re grossly behind the times when it comes to healthy working conditions for office workers.
If employers expect their employees to work behind a computer for an extended amount of time every day, they need to supply them with ergonomically optimized setups and encourage movement throughout the day. Here at UpDesk, we agree with DOLE’s assessment and encourage anyone who sits during their work day to move around for even 5 minutes, preferably every hour.
#2 - One size does NOT fit all
Flexibility in the workplace is becoming more important than ever, and employers can not expect “cookie-cutter” office furniture to fully accommodate their employees in keeping their overall health and productivity in mind.
Employees need specialized workstations designed to fit them individually. Adjustable height desks, ergonomic keyboards, monitor supports/risers, and anti-fatigue standing mats are all great to help keep employees motivated and comfortable in a working environment.
#3 - Walking is man’s best medicine
Along with offering unique workstations, employers need to inspire their employees to take a break at various times throughout the day. If you’re a manager, encourage your team to take a short walk around the office, park a bit further away from the office building and walk, or use the stairs instead of the elevator.
The concept of “walk-n-talk” meetings has become popular in several offices across the globe or simply pacing back and forth while on the phone has proven effective.
#4 - Motivate others
Employers can provide healthier alternatives in the workplace that, not only benefits employees while they’re at work, it may even translate into their lives outside of the office walls.
For example, certain employees may exude more energy at the end of the day because of the increased movement and optimized workstations.