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Inactive office workers spending 34 working weeks a year sitting at their desks

REIGATE, August 8th, 2008 – With a packed summer of sport in store, culminating in the Beijing Olympics this month, you’d expect many office workers to be inspired by their sporting heroes and motivated to get fit and healthy. However, research from Canon UK, world-leader in office imaging solutions, in fact shows the complete opposite – Britain still has an inactive and workaholic office culture. The recent study revealed that the average office worker spends five and a half hours sat at their desk during the working day – the equivalent of a staggering 34 working weeks per year* (74% of each working day).

• Canon research shows that the average office worker spends five and a half hours sitting at their desk every working day, one in five spend 7 to 8 hours sat in the same position
• Late working culture still rife with only a third of employees not working beyond their contracted hours and time with family and friends being most often sacrificed
• Canon teams up with health experts to launch ‘Healthy Office Working’ guide to help employees keep fit and healthy in the office

The research, which was carried out for Canon UK by ICM, also showed that only a third of office workers are not regularly working beyond their contracted hours. As a result time with friends and family, exercising and doing household chores are the most likely pastimes to be sacrificed.
Despite the well documented benefits of a successful employee work / life balance, such as increased productivity, improved recruitment and retention and lower rates of absenteeism, it seems that bosses are not doing enough to help their staff achieve a happy medium.  Indeed, with one in five office employees spending between seven and eight hours at their desk every working day, there is little time for anything else. 20% of workers don’t consider their health when in the office, despite spending the majority of their time there and a quarter of workers find it hard to eat healthily during office hours.  Only 19% use the tea run as an opportunity to take a break from their desk and just 28% regularly leave their desk to pick up documents from the printer – an ideal opportunity to stretch and exercise.
To help educate and support these inactive office workers, Canon has teamed up with health professionals from the fields of dietetics and ergonomics to develop an ‘Office Olympian’ guide. The guide includes independent expert advice on a range of topics such as keeping active in the office, healthy nutrition advice and perhaps most importantly, correct posture for employees who spend long periods working at a computer.
Clare Luther, a state registered Occupational Therapist who specialises in back pain, posture education and ergonomics comments: “Over the last few decades there has been a significant increase in computer work and desk-related tasks where most people are required to sit for long periods of time whilst working. The impact that this activity has on employees’ health is multi-factorial – physically and psychologically. In addition, there’s a financial cost of time lost at work due to poor workstation layout and poor posture. Canon’s ‘Office Olympian’ guide is a great starting point for businesses who want basic information about how to improve their workforce’s health.”
Laura Crossley, a registered Dietitian and member of the British Dietetic Association (BDA) added: “Many people are spending over a third of their waking hours in the office on an average work day and it doesn’t make sense to just switch off from the health risks during these hours. A combination of being active and maintaining a healthy diet during work hours will help workers stay fresh, healthy and productive.”
“Canon’s products and solutions are designed to improve efficiency and productivity within an office environment but technology is only half the battle”, comments Tracey Fielden, Head of Office Marketing. “A healthy and productive workforce is equally important and our research paints a rather worrying picture of inactive workers, putting in long hours and missing out on important time with friends and family. We want to create a culture of ‘Office Olympians’ who follow a simple but effective training regime such as taking regular breaks, walking to a communal MFP and eating healthily. With that in mind, we have produced an easy to read guide which provides simple and practical tips on how to make your workplace a healthier place.”

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