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How to... 5 easy steps towards a varied workday

Conceptual image of businessteam working cohesively. Interaction and unity

Do you experience discomfort or perhaps even pain throughout the day? It may well be your static working position behind it all. Read on to find out five simple tips for how you add some variety to your workday. 


1. Walk-and-talk

If the day’s meeting doesn’t require any sedentary aids, such as a slideshow or post-it brainstorm, then agree with your colleague to hold your meeting while taking a walk – maybe even outdoors. This will create variety in the form of movement rather than sedentary work, and will hopefully give your brain some fresh air. The physical variation and new surroundings can encourage you to think “outside the box” during the meeting, as well as help you concentrate when you come back to your next sedentary task. 

Walk-and-TalkMake telephone calls on the go or deliver messages to your colleagues face-to-face instead of sending an e-mail. If your colleague is sitting on a completely different floor, this is a clear opportunity to loosen up your body and maybe even raise your pulse for a little while. Mental and physical variation helps reset your focus if you are getting tired of a long, drawn-out task. 

Read NHS' articles about moving more


2. Does your workplace invite movement?

The concept of workplace nudging involves influencing a desired behaviour change amongst people. In this context, you can nudge yourself to achieve more variation and movement in your workday by arranging your workplace in a certain way. This could include positioning the printer, dustbin or coffee machine at the opposite end of the office, so that you have to move a little to use them. You could also put a sign up on the lift that encourages people to take the stairs instead. Persuade your boss to place yoga mats or exercise bands in the kitchen, and plan an internal competition about who can achieve a certain goal first. 


3. Exercise


Set an alarm on your phone to ring every three hours. When it rings, it’s time to do your regular exercises, which can include a varied programme that targets different muscle areas and joints. Two minutes are enough to achieve the movement and relaxation that you need to avoid physical discomfort and pain. The most important thing is that you move a couple of times throughout the day. Get inspiration about the exercises you can do here:

Video: 10 Best Stretches for Office Workers


4. Working posture

If you have an opportunity to choose something other than an office chair to sit on at work, take advantage of this. For example, by sitting on a Pilates ball or a balance chair, you naturally activate certain muscles that you otherwise don’t use when sitting reclined in an office chair. Activating muscles and joints means you prevent and ease any tension or pain. 

Working postureIf you don’t have access to seating alternatives at your workplace, you can also settle for varying the position of your office chair. Investigate your chair’s different functions – it most likely allows you to sit at several different heights, angles and positions, depending on the setting. If you have a height-adjustable desk, then remember to take this opportunity to add a little variety throughout your workday. For example, raise the table before you go to breakfast or before you go home for the day, so you are automatically nudged to stand up and work when you return to your workstation. 


5. Let your assignments dictate the variation

If you’re going to read a long text, then print it out and read it on the sofa. If you’re going to brainstorm a new idea, take the pencil and notepad with you into the kitchen and sit at a barstool. If you have multiple phone (meetings) in a day, then consider for how many of them you can take the opportunity to take a walk. You can also make a rule that every time you perform a specific task, such as read e-mails, then you stand up. Using these methods, you vary your position and surroundings, which increases your physical and mental performance.

Read about everyday ergonomic risks

There are so many ways that you can achieve variation and movement in your otherwise sedentary workday. Be creative and set yourself up for a painless workday. 

Good luck with creating your own variation!


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