Construction Cost & Project Management

Does QS stand for Quite Sedentary?

May 7, 2019

By Poole Dick Ambassador Andrew Thorp

“What you’re doing right now, at this very moment, is killing you.”

We watch TED talks quite a lot in our Poole Dick team meetings, and we always appreciate a good ‘grabber’ opening. Nilofer Merchant began her 2013 TED talk with this rather dramatic statement, which led her into the theme of wellbeing in the workplace.

There’s a good chance you’re reading this in a seated position, because that’s the way we spend a lot of our lives, especially at work. Merchant’s talk is entitled ‘Got a meeting? Take a walk’; it’s a plea for office workers to abandon the traditional practice of seated meetings (often very long ones!) and have discussions on the move.

Steve Jobs was an advocate of the mobile meeting and if you chat to someone on a smartphone you’ve probably paced up and down quite a bit. It seems to free up the mind. An executive coach in my town likes to take his clients on a walk in the countryside while they discuss business (weather permitting).

Employee wellbeing has come to the fore in recent years. There’s a moral aspect to looking after your people, but research has also revealed commercial benefits in a healthy workforce, in terms of productivity, creativity, staff retention, etc.

At Poole Dick we’ve invested heavily in our office environment but we recognise there’s more we can do to encourage health and wellbeing.

We did an employee survey recently about exercise habits and although some seem to balance work with physical activity, for many it’s a struggle. Of course, motivation is a major factor. Having a personal fitness trainer is not just beneficial in terms of tailored programmes; it’s also about having someone to report to. “Sorry Jeff, I just can’t be bothered this morning,” just doesn’t cut it!

Taking the stairs instead of the lift or escalator sounds like a good idea, but again why make life more difficult? Making it more fun might be an option instead. Psychologists were behind an experiment in a Stockholm metro station to encourage commuters to choose the stairs. Overnight they turned each step into a piano key, so it played a tune as people stepped on each ‘note’!

But in the absence of such behavioural manipulation, what can we do to encourage more physical activity at work?

• Experiment with stand-up desks.
• Go speak to someone across the office rather than send an email.
• Have meetings on the move.
• Keep meetings short (experiment with a ‘no chairs’ policy).
• Park further away than you need to.
• Take the stairs (musical or not).
• Check your posture when you sit. Avoid hunching, sit straight.
• Do exercises at your seat. Keep your neck mobile, roll your wrists and ankles regularly.
• You can work muscles by contracting them and then releasing repeatedly.
• Show a lead and organise some group activities like yoga, tai chi, or just a simple lunch time walk.

And don’t forget diet too – plenty of water, limit the caffeine, bring your own lunch.

Our survey revealed several Poole Dick employees with athletic backgrounds (surprisingly in some cases). Perhaps it’s not too late for them to make a comeback. After all, they said Tiger Woods was past it!