The Benefits of Micro Breaks

micro breaks with standing desks

What are micro breaks? Rather than take a long lunch or 15 minutes during the day, imagine a short five-minute rest from work that could involve a variety of activities. It’s like the joke: “I told my doctor it hurts when I do this. My doctor said, then don’t do that.” It’s actually that simple. Stopping what ails you helps your body bounce back. You can also apply micro breaks to specific deskwork related issues.

A Break from Wrist Pain Relief

Typing and data entry tasks 8 hours a day can inflict long-term pain on wrists, including the lasting effects of carpal tunnel. Take 5-second micro breaks every 30 minutes. If you use extra padded wrist supports for your keyboard and mouse, you may extend your typing periods to 45 minutes before taking a micro break.

Simply Stand Up

Sitting glued to your computer terminal eventually leads to back pain and leg pain. Standing up for 5 to 10 seconds every 30 minutes keeps your muscles from becoming frozen in their sitting positions. If you feel that 5-10 seconds is an absolute loss of productivity, incorporate a standing desk into your routine. Recent Smooth Lift standing desk technology makes it easy to rise and sit easily throughout your day, making micro breaks effortless.

Take a Break and Stare

Long periods staring at your computer monitor means your eyes are probably adjusting too much to the screen’s illumination and possible glare. Most likely you will feel eye strain and headaches later and not relate it to your long day engaged with your flat screen.  Take micro breaks to literally stare off into space for 5-10 seconds every 30 minutes to help your eyes adjust to something more than digital two-dimensional space. Do you notice dry eye? Working at a computer actually reduces how much we blink, which can lead to eye dryness.  Your eye refresh micro break will do wonders.

Need More Micro Break Ideas?

Three Ways to Reduce Back Pain at Work

Reduce Back Pain with Standing Desks

Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work.  In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.

Excluding more obvious causes of pain, such as traumatic injury and heavy lifting, most long-term back pain is attributed to our office workstations. Poor posture, poorly positioned equipment, such as the placement of our keyboard and mouse, and the excessive periods which we sit during the work day all contribute to chronic back pain. Here are simple solutions to help reduce back pain at the office.

Moving Throughout the Day

Maintaining flexibility versus continuous sitting is a remedy for most office-related backaches. Long periods of sitting exert pressure on the back muscles and spinal discs, which you may not feel until you get up. Then the sharp pain sets in. Take periodic breaks throughout the day. Walk around the office and stretch. Sit-Stand Workstations also encourage regular movement, maintain blood flow, and offer all the benefits of low-impact flexible movement without exertion.  Learn more about how sit-stands help back pain and provide other health benefits. 

Proper Workstation Arrangement

The impact of poorly arranged computer equipment is subtle and seems completely unrelated to back pain. However, you will begin to feel the difference by using these ergonomic tips:

Monitor placement-Position your monitor so the top of the screen is at eye level. Use a monitor stand if necessary. Place the monitor about arm’s length away.

Keyboard placement-Keep your keyboard directly in front of you when typing.  Keep your arms bent in an L-shape and elbows at your sides. Use a keyboard tray to position your keyboard correctly if needed.

Keep your mouse close to you- When you place your mouse on a desk, the tendency is to reach for it, causing pains in our arm, which can lead to pain in your back as your body tries to compensate for the difficult position in which you are working. The shorter the reach the better when mousing.

Improving Your Posture

Sitting correctly is one of the most important actions you can take against office-related back pain. Make sure your office chair is at the correct height. Ideally, your forearms should be straight and level with the floor as you type at your keyboard. Here are other tips for posture:

  • Don’t cross your legs
  • Don’t slouch
  • Either keep feet flat on the floor or use a footrest
  • If you find yourself frequently changing your position in the chair, use a backrest to keep a consistently secure and comfortable sitting posture

 

Should Kids Be Using Standing Desks?

Standing desks in classrooms

As standing desks become a part of offices and home offices for promoting wellness, their application for classrooms to benefit the health of students has also become a growing trend.  Combined with a push to offer healthier school lunches and increase the opportunity for fitness at school, sit-stand desks have been viewed as an additional benefit for classrooms. Here are just a few of the advantages.

Boosting Focus

Standing increases blood flow to the brain without the intense rigor of physical exercise, which means enhanced focus in the classroom. By simply standing while learning, this moderate fitness for a one week period is equal to a child walking five miles. The use of stand up desks was also associated with significant improvements (7-14%) in executive function and working memory capabilities.

Improving Classroom Behavior

In a recent study by Texas A&N University, standing while learning increased classroom attention and engagement by 12%. That translates into seven more minutes per hour of engaged learning, which is otherwise lost in disruptive behavior by students and teachers managing that behavior.

Improving Overall Health and Fitness

The percentage of children with obesity in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s. Today, about one in five school-aged children (ages 6–19) has obesity.*  Research shows that standing helps burn 17-35% more calories than sitting. Standing also helps prevent Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and improve BMI—all critical factors in combating an epidemic of childhood obesity.

Advocating for Standing Desks at Your School

Speak to your child’s teacher about supporting a sit-stand initiative. Approach parent/teacher organizations and any administrators or committees involved in supporting health at school.

Do Your Homework

Be prepared to present all the health benefits of standing desks in the classroom. Learn more here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4929187/

Get Students Involved

Engaging student councils at school gets kids actively involved in the health of their fellow students and helps support your arguments for standing desks in school.

Launch a Fund-Raising Initiative

Schools will always be supportive when it comes to improving student health, but budgets will inevitably be a roadblock. If your plan is approved by administrative committees, creative fund-raising efforts can help generate the money necessary to bring sit-stands into the classroom without impacting school budget constraints.

Learn more about flexible and easy to use standing desk technology: Standing Desks Options

 

 

* https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm

 

Programmers and Sit-Stand Workstations

programmers and sit-stand desks

As a programmer, you can spend 7-10 hours a day focused on coding, which also means all that time seated at a traditional computer workstation. The unhealthy impact of chronic sitting can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Standing is an ideal solution for healthier work at a computer. However, if you decide to stand at work, what equipment should you consider that specifically fits your profession?

Sit-Stand Workstations That Adjust Easily

A static sit-stand desk forces you to either stand entirely while working or take a break, while some adjustable sit-stands may require interrupting your task to make the manual changes to height. When as a programmer you are engaged with a piece of intense code, that may not be an option. Select a sit-stand workstation that easily adjusts from sitting to standing positions, so no focus on a task is lost. Smooth Lift Technology sit-stands feature that intuitive adjustability so you need only rise while grasping the lift adjustment lever, then grasping the adjustment lever once again to lower the desk back to a seated position. Make sure your sit-stand also has a good spectrum of height adjustment options, which is especially important for tall programmers.

The Flexibility of Multiple Monitors

As a coder you definitely need more than one monitor, so converting to a sit-stand desk shouldn’t mean a compromise.  Make sure your standing desk offers the option for multiple-monitor arms.

Storage Space

Changing over to a standing desk also shouldn’t mean giving up on other advantages of a standard computer workstation, like storage space. Storage space and work surfaces are still essential, so having a standing desk designed with added work and storage spaces allows you to incorporate a hot cup of coffee, notepads, pens and your smartphone into your standing workspace.

standing desk with workspace

Cord Management

One of the big advantages of a static workstation is that all the wires running to your electronics stay still. With a standing desk, continual movement up and down can lead to stress on power cables, tangled cords, and sometimes accidental unplugged peripherals as you change position. Check your sit-stand for cord management design features so that wires move seamlessly with your changing position.

How Long Should You Stand at a Standing Desk?

standing desk usage

You’re already aware of the benefits that a standing desk can offer. Your question now is, how should you use it?

How long you should stand is open for debate. However, some ergonomic and health experts generally agree on 20-minute intervals. Briefly standing for 5-20 minutes every hour causes muscle contractions in your back and legs. These contractions stimulate enzyme production that breaks down the fat in your bloodstream.  Starting out you may find that standing that period of time may be tiring. Listen to your body and sit down as needed.

Using Your Standing Desk For Fitness

Developing a routine around standing and sitting is one way to help improve your standing stamina. Start out standing for five-minute intervals, if that is all you can take. Then gradually increase the length of time standing. Having the right equipment helps transitioning from sitting to standing and back again much easier. Your standing desk should effortlessly rise and fall to accommodate changing positions without you having to strain.  Setting an egg timer to help you regulate your sitting and standing sessions is also helpful for developing a disciplined regimen.

standing desk fitness

Get a Sit-Stand Desk with Smooth Lift Technology for effortless transitioning.

Learning How to Sit

Learning how to sit properly, once you sit, is also an important part of a sit-stand regimen. Slumping forward, also know as “vulture neck” can put a strain on neck and back muscles and cause pain. Poorly positioning your legs and feet under your desk can also lead to painful cramping.

When sitting, be sure to sit up straight (your mother was right after all). Keep your shoulders back and balance your body weight so it is evenly distributed on both your hips. In other words, be aware if you are unconsciously leaning to one side in your office chair and make the correction. For additional support, you can add an ergonomic backrest to your chair. Lumbar backrests maintain the normal curves in your back while sitting and help train your body on proper posture.  For your legs, be sure to bend your knees at a right angle, with feet flat on the floor. You can also invest in a footrest to offer additional support.

WHY MSD’s are Costing Companies Billions in Worker’s Comp

Neck pain

While safety and health managers do their best to eliminate accident risks in the workplace, from minimizing the potential for falls and other mishaps, the less conspicuous costs incurred from MDS’s, or muscular-skeletal disorders, are causing a significant impact—and employees may not even realize it. Many workers may assume that pains in their shoulder, wrists, neck, back and elbows may be “part of the job” until the increasing severity of these conditions leads to debilitating results. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA,  MDS’s account for more $15 billion a year in worker’s compensation costs.

Training Managers to Become Ergonomic Watchdogs

Identifying pending MSD situations, even when an employee isn’t complaining, can avoid costly consequences for the business and painful consequences for the employee.  Look out for these red flags:

  • Employees holding their backs or straining when they get up out of their office chairs
  • Employees stopping work to massage or shake their wrists
  •  Employees rubbing their neck or shoulders frequently
  • Look for vulture neck-the drooping of the head and neck forward due to improper monitor height

Recommended Solutions to MSD’s

Ergonomic office chair back rests are specifically designed for use with desk chairs and provide the added support to the lumbar, minimizing back strain.

Wrist supports position the hands properly and protect the wrists to prevent strain from repetitive motions like mousing.

Ergonomic keyboard trays position the arms and wrists at the proper angle and distance to prevent strain from the repetitious actions from daily typing.

Monitor risers elevate the computer screen to the proper height to prevent “vulture neck.”  Vulture neck may eventually lead to chronic neck and shoulder pain.

Get more information on implementing ergonomic practices that reduce MSD’s and keep employees happy and your office productive.  Workplace Well-Being Guidelines.

Adding a Sit-Stand Desk to Your Home Office

home office sit stand desk

The daily office grind, doesn’t change if you are managing a small business out of your home or working full-time from a home office. Much like a desk job in a corporate setting, sitting down all day can compromise your health.  In fact, as Marc Hamilton a physiologist and professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. indicates: “a man who sits 60 hours at a desk job but still works out for 45 minutes a day five times a week still has a sedentary lifestyle.”

Making the Change to a Sit Stand Workstation

Sit-stand desks are a healthy option to the traditional workstation in that regular standing and sitting throughout the day provides the flexibility and movement that can encourage calorie burn and minimize the weight gain that comes with a excessive sitting, and the great benefit of having one in your home office is that you don’t need to make a request to HR. Newer sit stand designs come fully assembled so they are easy to set up. Most importantly new Smooth Lift Technology makes it easier to transition from sitting and standing and back again throughout the day.

Customizing Your Home Office with Sit-Stand Workstations

Personalizing your home office to fit you is one of the great benefits of working from home.  Select a Sit-Stand that has full adjustability. The Lotus Sit-Stand features 22 different height settings and 17″ of vertical adjustment so that you can position your workstation for personal comfort.

So Many Computer Cords to Manage!

The high-tech nature of the modern home office may mean tangles of computer cables. Choose a sit-stand with cable management options so your home office looks uncluttered. The Lotus also features a device charging slot which allows your entire workspace to move freely with you-no cable strain or tangles.

Working with More Than One Monitor

If your home office profession requires multiple monitors, you will need to find a sit-stand workstation that accommodates that need. The Lotus offers the option of a dual monitor arm kit that transforms your sit-stand into a multi-screen workstation-perfect for programmers!

Learn more about Lotus Sit-Stand Desks.

 

The Best Lunchtime Workouts for the Business Professional

tehrene-firman

Guest Post by Tehrene Firman. A health & fitness freelance writer, formerly of Dr. Oz

Making sit stand workstations part of your workout

Making time to work out sounds easy enough, but sometimes it can feel like another job — aka something no one wants on top of their typical 9 to 5 workday. You’ve tried morning workouts to no avail, and exercising after a long day makes you laugh just thinking about it. So what’s a business professional to do when they want to squeeze in some gym time?

 

It’s easy to forget about the actual “break” part of a lunch break, but it’s time to take advantage of that unused time. Instead of spending your golden hour chowing down some food while typing away at the computer, lace up your sneakers: Early afternoons are primetime for workouts. Your energy levels are at a high, and you’re probably getting a little antsy in your seat anyway. Wave goodbye to your desk and take up one of these lunchtime workouts that will have you feeling like a million bucks the rest of your day.

 

  1. Hop on a Treadmill or Elliptical

If you have a gym nearby, head over for a quick session on the treadmill or elliptical. As long as there’s no wait time for a machine, you can be in and out as fast as you need to be. Perfect for those days you only have 30 minutes, you’ll still feel the burn and reap the cardio benefits in a short amount of time.

 

  1. Sign Up for an Express Class

Many fitness studios have jumped on the lunchtime workout bandwagon, putting classes on the schedule that are 45 minutes or less. Depending on your area, it’s easy to find something worthy of your break — from a high-intensity boot camp class to some relaxing yoga on particularly stressful workdays.

 

  1. Hit Up a Rowing Machine

The treadmill and elliptical are great and all, but the rowing machine is often overlooked at the gym. Not only does rowing burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time, but it also gives you a 2-in-1 cardio and muscle-building workout. Plus, unlike running, it’s low-impact and won’t put any unnecessary pressure on your knees.

 

  1. Give the Stair Climber a Shot

Yeah, yeah, we know. But hear us out: Climbing a set of revolving stationary stairs isn’t as awful as it sounds. Anytime you step foot on a stair climber, you’ll get your bang for your buck: It’s almost impossible to be lazy on this machine, and you can burn hundreds of calories in just 30 minutes.

 

  1. Challenge Yourself to Some Real Stairs

If you don’t have a gym nearby, turn your office into your playground. Whether it’s stairs inside your building or outdoor stairs nearby, you’ll definitely work up a sweat in no time if you decide to lace up your sneakers and give this idea a shot. Want to really take things up a notch? Do some jumping jacks every time you get to the top.

 

  1. Go for an Outdoor Run

If you love running, you’re in luck: Hitting the pavement is probably the easiest way to squeeze in a workout over your lunch break. It’s quick, you have total control over how long you go and the intensity level, and you get to breathe in some fresh air. Not a runner? Go for a walk instead.

 

  1. Sign Up for a Cycling Class

If you’re the type who wants to avoid getting sweaty during lunchtime workouts, you might as well skip ahead now. Cycling classes are a great way to get your heart rate up midday, but you’ll definitely need to take some time to shower afterward. Luckily, getting that natural high from spinning to some of the best pump-up jams makes it all worth it.

  1. Try a Standing Desk

On those days it’s nearly impossible to take a break, there’s a solution that will help you move around without all the fuss: a standing desk. (And no, not the kind you have to tear your entire office area apart for.) You can upgrade your set-up in seconds by topping your current desk with Fellowes’ new Lotus™ Sit-Stand Workstation, which easily rises and lowers depending on your needs. Alternating between sitting and standing positions throughout the day is the perfect way to stay active, and having a healthy workspace that moves with you is the best way to do it.

Santa’s Workshop Increases Productivity for Holiday Season

 

Santa's management strategy

As the Christmas season grows more demanding each year, Santa’s Workshop strives to continually improve efficiency and productivity. New products have been introduced to minimize fatigue and injury in the workshop, as well as streamline the operation overall.

Elves Turn to Ergonomics for Admin Duties

“With a lot of toys, comes a lot of data,” says Santa. “All that information has to be processed.”  In the administrative offices of the workshop, elves complained of back pain, wrist pain and neck strain, leading to lost productivity and days out of the workshop recovering. Santa implemented company-wide back rests for all admin elves as well as the latest in office keyboard managers to reduce incidents of wrist pain.  Also the latest and greatest monitor arms put screens at the proper height and distance from elves to make computing duties easier.

Improving Workshop Air Quality Concerns

“Elves aren’t immune to colds and flu, and being at the North Pole doesn’t help,” Santa indicated. He implemented a commercial air purification system to keep the workshop free of airborne germs. The system features a true HEPA filter, which  captures 99.97% of airborne contaminants including viruses and allergens. The activated carbon filter also reduces odors, which is helpful for those elves stationed near the reindeer stables.

Archiving Past Holidays-Storing Records On-Site at North Pole

As a global one-night only distributor, Santa found reviewing past performance crucial for future productivity. Storing all past archives off-site led to long delays in records retrieval, “especially when you are headquartered at the North Pole,” indicates Santa. “It got to the point where we were just stuffing records in stockings and toy chests. That’s no good.” Converting to on-site archiving reduced costs and made records readily available for review.

Naughty List Record Destruction

Santa’s Naughty & Nice spreadsheet is an ever-changing dynamic.  “Those who were once naughty and now are nice don’t deserve that bad record following them around.” Santa explains.  “We keep auto feed shredders at every list review station for maximum identity theft protection. Because they are automatic, productivity is increased as the elves spend less time shredding and more time making toys.”

BYOD: The Risks and Rewards of Personal Digital Devices in the Workplace

using privacy filters in public

As the lines between personal life and work life blur, so too do the usage of our digital devices for both.  Many companies are embracing the BYOD trend (Bring Your Own Device) for its many benefits, including the reduction of inefficiencies that come with juggling corporate and personal devices.  Digital technology supplied by employers mean doubling the number of devices an employee may have to carry with them, along with the inconvenience of having to switch from corporate devices to personal as needed. Employees using their desktop or laptop computers  on work-from-home days to check emails and follow up on assignments improves productivity. And business travelers using their personal phones and tablets to conduct business on the road improves the efficiency of communication between on-the-go employees and the home office.

BYOD Policy Basics for Business

  • Implement cloud platforms for remote business operations so lost or stolen devices do not compromise important data
  • Provide privacy filters to help prevent visual security breaches
  • Provide and train employees on remote data management applications, including software that allows for remote wiping of data, scanning for malware and data leakage and archiving company information

Studies including Harris Interactive, Osterman Research and  Gartner Research have revealed key details to the BYOD trend.  In a study by Harris Interactive, it was revealed that nearly two-thirds of companies have no policies regarding the use of personal mobile devices at work, and 33% tolerate personal devices for business. In a Osterman Research white paper, the majority of both iPhones and Android phones used for corporate business were owned personally rather than by the corporation.  And Gartner research estimated that almost half of the world’s companies will no longer provide computer devices to employees in the near future, 40% will offer a choice between corporate or personal devices and only 15% will remain outside the BYOD model.

Why Companies and Employees Like BYOD

Companies save when employees use their personal devices. The average cost of supplying mobile computing devices is estimated to be $600 annually per employee. Also employees are more likely to upgrade their personal devices to the latest and greatest technology, offering faster performance and greater security.

Employee prefer their personal devices. A Unisys report found that 44% of employees find a job offer more attractive if they can use their personal devices on the job.

Risks to the BYOD Trend

With rewards come risks. When defining their BYOD policies, companies need to take in account the potential hazards of personal devices. The Harris survey revealed the following:

  • 31% of employees connect to their company’s network from an unsecured free or public Wi-Fi
  • 46% share their personal devices with others
  • 25% have been victims of hacking or malware on their personal devices
  • 52% of laptop users are simply ignoring the problem of shoulder surfing, potentially exposing sensitive, corporate information when accessing their devices in public

As it appears that BYOD may become a business practice more than a trend, companies need to review and implement policies that both protect sensitive company information while still offering the flexibility of the modern work/life balance.

Sources

http://www.welivesecurity.com/2012/04/04/byod-infographic-for-security-not-a-pretty-picture/
http://www.pcworld.com/article/2036980/half-of-companies-will-require-byod-by-2017-gartner-says.html