The Bad Office Habits Risking Our Health

04 Sep 2019

Category: Company News

Posted by

When you spend long hours at work it’s easy to pick up bad office habits that can risk your health. 

In a study conducted by the TUC, the average UK employee works 42 hours per week. This is two hours more than the EU average and is equivalent to an extra two and a half weeks a year. 

Britain is becoming notorious for a long-hours culture. Which means it’s no surprise that the habits we pick-up while trying to manage our workload can become detrimental to our overall health. 

After all, health and wellbeing are not seen as a priority when we’re at work. We are often too focussed on completing projects or sat in long meetings. 

While sickness and absence are at the lowest levels in the UK, presenteeism has risen. Many people still go to work despite being unwell and not feeling their best. 

In a study by health insurer Vitality, it found that 40% of employees said their work has been impacted by health problems. This is a figure which has increased by a third over the last five years. 

It seems that overwork and stress have become the new normal in our workplace cultures. 

Sitting All Day

While sitting all day is an obvious bad office habit, the risks to our health have been highlighted increasingly by health studies. 

86% of workers sit all day, with few movement breaks. This means our human body which needs movement to burn energy is currently living a highly sedentary lifestyle. 

Even if you’re hitting the gym every night, or going for that early morning run, sitting all day is doing your health damage. 

Just consider the maths, you sleep for eight hours, perhaps exercise for one hour. That leaves you with 15 hours where your body still needs to remain active.

A study of men who are normally active were asked to reduce their steps per day to around 1,350. For two weeks they had to use elevators instead of stairs and drive to work instead of walk. They had to completely reduce their activity.  

By the end of the two-week study, all of the men had become worse at metabolising sugars and fats. Furthermore, their distribution of body fat had also changed. Their fat had moved around the middle.

This study proved the detrimental risk sitting all day can have on our health. 

Even if you are a highly active person outside of the office, sitting all day is doing your health the serious damage. 

So far studies on sitting all day have found links to an array of health conditions. This includes arthritis, colon cancer, diabetes, and early death. This is why many organisations are now investing heavily in wellness incentives. 

Lunch Al Desko 

Having lunch at our desks is one of the more common bad office habits as we try to multitask work with eating.  

The fact is, our lunch breaks are an essential part of our day to refuel our bodies and move around. If we continue to eat at our desk not only do we continue to sit down, but we can also impact our diet. 

Studies have shown that non-focussed eating, such as eating in front of a computer or TV can increase calorie consumption. People who are eating while ‘distracted’ can eat more than 200 extra calories. 

Continuing to do this over a long period of time can slowly begin to add on extra weight. Ultimately meaning, your desk is destroying your diet. 

Intense Screentime 

Many of us regularly have to work on computers and laptops, but this can put a major strain on our eyes. 

The average UK office worker spends 7 hours looking at a computer screen while at work. And this doesn’t include screen time spent on our mobile phones. 

However, research has found that intense amounts of screen time can lead to problems. This includes blurred vision, eye strain, and long-term eyesight issues. 

You may already experience headaches and migraines from intense screentime, but few of us take regular breaks.

While it’s easy to get into the habit of sitting in front of your screen all day, the NHS recommends that you should take regular screen breaks and move away from your desk. 

Sweet Snacks

Snacking is at the top of the list when it comes to bad office habits.  Whether it’s a colleagues birthday or a business success, many of us have got into the habit of bringing sweet snacks into the office. 

From birthday cake to donuts and cookies, the office can become a sweet snack haven. But these unhealthy habits are putting our health at risk. 

A survey conducted in the UK on 2,000 workers office snacking habits found that 47% of us tuck into ‘elevenses’ at work. 

Another study carried out by a Dutch food brand discovered that those extra snacking calories add up to an incredible 100,000 calories per year. 

In the report, it was discovered that peak snacking times in an office occur at 10.30am and 3.30pm.

Unfortunately, the study also found that women were most susceptible to office snacking. With the average woman consuming in just one year, 135 biscuits, 90 slices of cake, 90 packets of sweets and 45 donuts. 

Long Commutes 

While it’s not a bad office habit, a long commute is something which impacts our work.

In the open world we live in our work often requires us to travel long distances. However, this bad office habit can also put our health at risk.  

Research conducted by ACAS found that the average UK commute is 54 minutes. With workers in London exceeding this with an average of 74 minutes. 

According to a study by the University School of Medicine in Saint Louis commuting more than 10 miles by car can lead to higher blood sugar. This increases our chances of higher cholesterol and diabetes. 

While long periods of travel are becoming an accepted norm in today’s workplace it can impact both mental and physical wellness. 

As well as feeling stressed by the commute, it’s also been found that we feel less productive the longer we have to travel to work. 

Research by Vitality found those who commuted to in under 30 minutes gain an additional seven day’s work of productive time each year.  

Reducing your commute could be key to improving your health. Alternatively, finding a more active way to get to work could improve your overall wellness.