It will come as no shock that people today are busier than they’ve ever been. But what may come as a surprise: we’re sitting far longer than we realize, thanks to our personal lives and our work tasks.
With technology, smart phones, Netflix, and digital communications channels – and scrolling social media – we oftentimes spend hours every day sitting. In fact, the video sharing social media platform TikTok just surpassed YouTube in viewing hours with the average user watching videos for about an hour and a half every day.
Research published in 2019 indicated that U.S. adolescents sits for up to eight hours daily, while the average adult sits for approximately six hours every single day. That’s a lot of inactive hours every day, week, and year, and those are pre COVID pandemic numbers.
But it’s not just fun and games that’s keeping us in our chairs. Frontiers in Psychology published another study focusing on the lifestyle shifts due to COVID-19, remote working, and spending more time at home. The researchers reported a 28% increase in time spent sitting all over the world. That means adults in the U.S. are sitting nearly eight hours every single day.
And if that wasn’t enough, a recent study indicated that overall sedentary behavior has dramatically increased, with physical activity among already active people dropping by a third.
Simply put, we were already on our way to being much more sedentary than we used to be, and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated Americans’ sedentary lifestyles in a dramatic way. And while we may enjoy that time off our feet, the consequences could be more severe, including for organizations with remote or hybrid workforces.
Remote Workers Are Sitting More
Remote and hybrid workforces have become commonplace thanks to the COVID pandemic and evolving business climate since early 2020. Organizations across the globe are moving to, or keeping, remote workforces, changing the way employees work, interact, and even move around.
This shift has led to some amazing benefits for the organizations and employees, including greater flexibility with work, better work/life balance, and even greater productivity in some cases. But it has also led to some troubling developments.
Remote and hybrid workforces are sitting much more than they used to. A study in Ireland revealed that more than half of people working from home are sitting down for an average of two hours and 40 minutes longer per day than when they were working in an office.
Another study, published in February 2021 in Occupational Medicine, “followed up with 112 U.S. desk workers who had previously participated in a clinical trial designed to curb sedentary time and boost physical activity.” During the COVID pandemic, these same workers “reported that their sedentary time outside of the workday increased by almost one hour.”
Studies like these can be found worldwide, and the results affect remote and hybrid workforces of every shape and size. Remote working is here to stay, and in many cases, it’s creating less fulfilled, less healthy, and less productive employees.
Sitting On Productivity
Every company wants an active, healthy, and productive workforce. Some companies invest significant resources to ensure this happens, but COVID-19 and remote working has created an environment most organizations weren’t prepared for and sitting is one the greatest risks for organizations to manage.
A study by the University of Huddersfield even recommended that “reducing the amount of time spent sitting down should be part of public health policy following COVID-19.” Employee mental health and wellbeing, the foundation for a productive workforce, was a key contributing factor to the recommendation.
The study looked at the effect of sitting time and physical activity on mental health during the pandemic, and “found that the increase in time spent sitting down had an adverse effect on mental health and even outweighed the benefits of regular exercise.”
The study went on to point out that:
Even people who were active, with around 150 minutes per week of moderate or vigorous physical activity, reported detrimental effects to their mental health. Even more exercise was required to counterbalance this more sedentary lifestyle.
The findings from another study showed that workers were more apt to say their job performance suffered as the total time they spent sitting during the day increased. Compared with people who were sitting for less than two hours a day, those with two to four hours of sitting time a day were 22% more likely to report a worse job performance, and those who sat for at least eight hours a day were 78% more likely to report their job performance suffered.
Ultimately the data, and the experts behind the data, are concluding that sedentary behavior may be contributing to more stress, worsened moods and quality of life, and now negatively impacting job performance.
Getting Your Workforce Active
Experts agree that reducing the amount of time spent sitting has a positive effect on almost all aspects of employees’ lives, including mental health, physical health, and job performance. But just how much do employees need to move?
There’s no silver bullet or exercise routine that’s going to be effective for every workforce, whether they’re remote or onsite. Some experts recommend 60 minutes of exercise if you work more than eight hours in a day, and others recommend less.
All experts agree that physical activity and movement are recommended. And employees are looking to their employers to provide these wellness opportunities for them.
Corporate Fitness Works (CFW) has been partnering with global organizations for more than three decades to provide flexible, customized solutions tailored to fit the specific needs of each organization.
CFW is the only company in our industry that focuses exclusively on the unique needs of the working population, creating programs to keep workforces healthy, engaged, and productive.
We’ve brought that experience and expertise forward with the CFW Fit Streaming and CFW Virtual Fitness Solutions, which bring the atmosphere of a fitness center to global teams in a virtual setting. From small to large companies and beginners to advanced levels, CFW solutions are designed specifically for busy people seeking a healthier, active work-life balance.
Whatever your workforce looks like, Corporate Fitness Works is ready to put over 30 years of experience to work for you to design a tailored solution that meets the needs of you and your teams.
Contact our team now to learn more!