Wave Office LTD is based in Crawley and specialises in office refurbishment, furniture and stationery. Covering the South East, London and beyond. They are providing Office Chairs & Desks, Meeting, Reception & Canteen Furniture & Full Office Refurbishments.
February is the British Heart Foundation’s, National Heart Health Month and we are all encouraged to learn as much as possible about looking after our hearts
Many deaths and preventable disabilities in the UK are caused by heart related illnesses, but making some simple changes can improve your chances of avoiding these diseases.
A good diet is vital for overall health, but it is even more important when it comes to health of the heart. However, if you work in an office environment, sticking to healthy food choices can be particularly difficult. Birthdays, celebrations, leftovers and general “pick-me-ups” are all good excuses for people to bring unhealthy food into the office.
Saturated fats raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease. Foods such as cakes, biscuit and dairy products are all generally high in saturated fats.
Sugar raises your heart rate and any unused energy will be stored as fat, which can increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Salt raises blood pressure and increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Try to encourage staff to make healthier choices by offering nutritious meals in the canteen, providing fresh, low sugar snacks throughout the day and ensuring that low sugar drink options are available.
Education is an extremely important factor in helping people to make informed choices about their diet. The British Heart Foundation has some great resources on their website that you could use to provide staff with information about well balanced diets and portion control.
The heart is a muscle and requires regular exercise in order to stay strong and healthy. Unfortunately, spending the majority of the working week sat at your desk means that fitting regular exercise in to your day can be difficult.
With some small changes to equipment, alongside motivating tasks or challenges organised by management, it can be easier and more fun than you think to get a good amount of movement into your working day.
For example, sit/stand desks or monitor risers can be a great way to get staff on their feet throughout the day. Step challenges are also a fun way to build morale as well as keeping employees active. If you don’t already have teams within your business, divide your workforce up as evenly as possible and supply everyone with a pedometer. Give every team a week to complete the most amount of steps and think of a healthy reward for the winners.
Mental and Emotional Health
Employers should also strive to look after the mental health and overall wellbeing of their employees as stress can have a detrimental impact on heart health. Employers should make sure that their staff are aware of the help that is available to them if they find themselves struggling emotionally or mentally.
You could create information leaflets, posters or emails to let people know about support available to them within the business and outside agencies that can help. Workshops are also a great way to get people involved and educated or finding a new hobby which can help people to care for their wellbeing outside of work.
Training and Education
For every minute that somebody in cardiac arrest doesn’t receive defibrillation, their chances of survival drop by 10%. Having a defibrillator and trained staff on site could save a life. First aid training should be provided regularly and as many staff as possible should be invited to attend.
Employees should also be made aware of the risk factors that can cause heart disease and illness such as high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking. Information and support in controlling these risk factors can help staff to take back control of their health and avoid more serious conditions in the future.
Snow, rain or ice , as well as lower light levels or glare from the low sun are all conditions that can make the winter commute very hazardous.
Driving in these types of weather can be extremely stressful and require a lot of concentration. However, there is some sensible advice to be followed to try to make your commute as safe and calm as possible.
Give yourself extra time: Rushing is a main cause of mistakes and feeling under pressure to arrive on time can cause you to speed. In winter, this can be even more dangerous than speeding in normal conditions. Remember that in snowy and icy conditions in particular, you should drive slower than you normally would, traffic is likely to be heavier and slower moving and you may need to take a detour. All of these factors may add time to your journey that should be allowed for.
Clear your car properly: All windows and mirrors should be completely clear of any ice, snow or fog and you should make sure there is no snow left on the roof of your car as this can drop on to the windscreen when you are driving. Driving your car when windows, mirrors and windscreens are not clear is an offence that can add three points to your license.
Keep speed down and stopping distances greater than usual: Corners should be taken extra slowly and remember that safe stopping distances are doubled in wet conditions and can be up to ten times greater in icy conditions.
Keep steady and in control: Try to avoid heavy acceleration, braking and steering in bad weather conditions. Carry out any maneuvers slowly and with great care. Make sure that you are always aware of your surroundings as pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and other cars can be harder than usual to see.
Keep an emergency kit in the car: Winter weather can be unpredictable and it is not unheard of for people to become stuck due to impassable roads or breaking down with long recovery times. This is why it is vital that you keep a winter emergency kit in the car. This should include: Torches and batteries, warm clothing and blankets, hi-vis jackets, jump leads, food and drink and a spade.
Cold weather brings lots of worries for employers and employees alike. Main concerns include travel, absenteeism, illnesses and general health and safety. In this post, we aim to give a little practical advice to help you to handle the biggest business concerns that cold weather brings.
What temperature should my workplace be?
There is no legal lower limit for indoor working temperature, but the Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations of 1992 state that the minimum temperature in the workplace should not fall below 16°c, reduced to 13°c if the work requires a high level of physical activity. However, these are only recommended guidelines and not legal requirements. The regulations go on to state that the temperature of workrooms should provide reasonable comfort without the need for special clothing.
Employers are required to do what is reasonable and practical to keep employees warm and safe. Extra risk assessments may need to be carried out to ensure that employers are doing everything that they can to ensure their employees are not at risk of illness or injury.
When the weather begins to affect the workplace, the HSE recommends the following measures in order to keep the working environment warm:
Provide adequate heating with the addition of additional heaters if required
Reduce any drafts and reduce exposure to the cold by minimising the length of time that tasks are carried out outdoors or in colder areas
Provide ample break time for employees to spend time in warmer areas, eat warm food and make hot drinks
Provide appropriate floor insulation or footwear if employees are expected to stand for extended periods of time
What if the weather makes it difficult or impossible to reach your workplace?
If heavy snow or ice is making your journey extremely long, difficult or dangerous, the most advisable thing to do would be to talk to your manager about working remotely.
Employers should prepare for such events with clear guidelines in place to avoid confusion among employees. Employers and employees should both act in a responsible manner at these times to protect individual safety and the interests of the company. By being prepared for such events ahead of time, risk of confusion is lowered and safety concerns are clearly communicated.
Conditions such as asthma, arthritis, psoriasis and cardiovascular disease can all be aggravated by the cold weather and those who suffer from these illnesses should be encouraged to take extra precautions to protect their health.
Working indoors in periods of cold weather can encourage the spread of illnesses such as cold and flu. This is because indoor environments are generally less ventilated in the winter months and people’s immune systems are normally weaker. Consider installing hand sanitizing dispensers around the office to help to control the spread of germs.
Norovirus is another highly contagious illness and is so common in the winter months that most people know it by the name of “the winter vomiting bug”. The bug is easily spread in unventilated environments where people spend a lot of time in close proximity to one another. Those who have had the bug should remain off of work for at least 48 hours after their symptoms have cleared and should remember to properly clean and disinfect their desk and equipment upon their return.
Employers should be aware that asthma can become worse in cold weather as the sensitive airways of the sufferer can become aggravated by damp or cold conditions outside. Indoors, sufferers are at risk from heated air and indoor pollutants.
Hot desking can have many benefits for your business and can be especially useful for companies that have smaller offices or for organisations who promote flexible working. However, there can be a variety of barriers to the successful implementation of hot desking. Here we aim to highlight the biggest of those hot desking problems and provide some tips and insight into how you can avoid any big issues.
Have a system in place that allows employees to “reserve a desk”
Some days will require more desk based work than other. Having the option to make sure a desk is available when needed is a great way to help the implementation of hot desking seem less scary and more functional for staff. It also helps to keep tensions and competition for space low and makes it easy for people to plan their working day efficiently.
Reservation systems could be as simple as having an office manager or receptionist place a note or dry-wipe board message on a desk stating that the space is reserved for “x”, accompanied by the time the desk is reserved from and to. For larger organisations a desk reservation software may be more suitable.
Whichever reservation method is chosen, it is crucial that all staff are briefed on the system, how it works and the importance of following it.
Make sure ample storage solutions are available
If your company is looking into hot desking, its is vital that suitable storage solutions are not forgotten. Adequate and functional storage can be the difference between the success and failure of your hot desking system.
It may be a good idea to ask your employees to fill out a questionnaire about the items they regularly bring in to work and what type of storage they feel would suit them best. For example, if people regularly bring a gym kit or change of clothes to work, larger storage options such as lockers should be made available.
An effective and secure filing system is also important when people no longer have a personal desk to occupy. There are many mobile pedestal options now available on the market and these can be a great solution for storing documents and other items that staff require to carry out their job effectively. Alternatively, a move towards a paperless office could also be implemented around the same time as the start of your hot desking plans.
It’s also a good idea to place coat racks and hooks near each set of desks to allow people to keep bags, coats and other bulky items away from their working area but within sight and reach.
Have awareness for how others work
Some companies organise their hot desking system into different zones or departments throughout the building. For example, you may choose to have a silent working area, a more relaxed area and a zone for people who regularly make or take calls.
Alternatively, staff should be encouraged to respect others around them, such as stepping outside to speak on the phone if other colleagues are working quietly.
Keep desks clean and tidy
This is an important factor of hot desking success. Firstly, staff will become frustrated if they have to rearrange or tidy a desk before they can use it and secondly, colds and other illnesses are easily spread when desks, keyboards, phones and mice are shared by many people, so good hygiene is paramount for staff health.
Make it quick and simple for staff to keep desks clean and clear by placing a bin next to each desk or set of desks and antibacterial wipes within easy reach for wiping down the desk and shared accessories. You could also consider placing sanitising hand gel dispensers near each set of desks to help to stop the spread of germs.
Create spaces where staff can relax, socialise and collaborate
Hot desking offers a range of benefits, however, having alternative spaces that allow staff to break away from their work are crucial to the success of a desk sharing environment.
Staff need time to relax, meet with other colleagues and eat and drink in order to be productive, alert and creative. Depending on the way you choose to implement your hot desk system, it may not be possible to achieve these things at a shared desk. Without accessibility to spaces that cater for these types of activities, staff will quickly become frustrated with the system and become rapidly demotivated and unproductive.
Interior design trends are clearly showing that kitchens are becoming the new domestic hub. This trend is now spilling over to the work place and it’s easy to see why.
A well designed kitchen area, breakout space or canteen, provides a much needed break from screen time and allows employees to rest, recharge and socialise with colleagues. These areas are fast becoming the collaboration hubs of the office, where creative ideas are conceived and cross-department relationships are formed.
Kitchens and breakout areas provide employees with space for a no-obligation rest, chat or meeting. It’s an environment where ideas can be sparked, problems solved and morale boosted, all without any pressure. If these things happen in this space, it’s a bonus, but the space is primarily accepted and respected as a space that allows time away from work. However, it is often found that without the same pressures that are found in meeting rooms or behind desks, ideas and problem solving become much more creative, inclusive and frequent, even without a set intention or agenda.
What makes a great space?
The best functioning kitchen and breakout areas are equipped with modern appliances and conveniences such as coffee machines, microwaves and refrigerators which allow staff to bring in healthy meals from home and easily recharge their bodies while they rest their minds.
Furniture is also hugely important to the functionality and enjoyment of these spaces. Comfortable lounge areas with sofas and soft seating are important for those who want to sit down and recharge. Ergonomic chairs and tables are ideal for staff who wish to work away from their desk in a less formal environment. Large tables and comfortable seating provide a space for groups to gather and chat or collaborate, whilst smaller tables and high quality canteen chairs are great for those who simply want to sit and eat.
Acoustic pods and booths can be invaluable in this type of environment as it means those who prefer a little more quiet can still enjoy the culture and opportunity that these spaces provide, without having to completely isolate themselves from the experience.
Kitchen and breakout areas are no longer seen as small conveniences, but more as areas that capture and create a positive company culture that should be accessible for all. So, with that in mind, it might be time to start planning a refurb!
Here’s a great case study for a kitchen area that we completed for a global Sat Comms company to give you some inspiration.
Most staff will be waking up to dark mornings and leaving the office in the dark. It’s cold and rainy, so commutes are even more miserable and there’s less to do during leisure time outside of the office. Christmas is only a few weeks away and some may be stressed with the cost and organisation associated with it. And to top it all off, it’s cold and flu season.
So, what can be done to lift spirits and make sure that staff well-being is cared for over the winter months?
Provide healthy snacks
This is important in keeping people alert and productive and stopping the afternoon slump. Comfort eating is common at this time of year and usually there’s no shortage of sugary snacks on offer in the lead up to Christmas.
Fruit is ideal for getting a sweet hit and vitamins all in one. Iron rich foods are also great for providing energy and keeping people alert. Sugary and caffeinated drinks should be kept to a minimum, so consider stocking up on herbal teas or naturally flavoured water.
Holding walking meetings, taking the stairs and getting outside on breaks (if it isn’t too cold or wet) are great ways to incorporate movement into the working day. Moving helps to keep you alert and productive, as well as stimulating the release of endorphins to keep spirits up. You could also consider putting together a “deskercise” information sheet with instructions on how to keep active whilst working at a desk.
Encourage short breaks
Following on from the previous point about keeping active, encouraging staff to take a few minutes break in between tasks is a great way to keep people focused. A few minutes every hour to take the eyes away from a screen and allow the brain to relax a little also helps to keep stress levels down and generally help people to feel less pressured.
Keep the blinds open, even when it’s cloudy as any natural light is beneficial. Consider investing in lighting that more closely mimics natural daylight. This is important for keeping the body clock on track and keeping us refreshed and productive despite the cold and dark outside.
Educate staff on the importance of vitamin D
In the winter, there is less sunlight available which means our Vitamin D levels will naturally decrease. This can lead to a more deflated mood and further exaggerate any existing aches and pains. Good quality vitamin D supplements are easily available over the counter and can easily help to restore any depleted levels.
Offer help and support
Set up exercise or well-being workshops throughout each month or offer access to mental health support – this could be as simple as making staff aware about the type of help that is available and local places they can go to receive support or further information.
Consider offering physical health checks to staff to make sure their basic health is looked after. You could also set up awareness classes around smoking and drinking as these habits are generally increased around this time of year and are often popular new year’s resolutions which are rarely followed through without the right support and awareness. Also, stress the importance of people going to have their flu jab, and perhaps offer it free of charge to employees.
Organise a few fun activities throughout the winter
Keep morale high and invest in a few fun days out or evening social gatherings throughout the winter months. Generally people tend to hibernate at this time of year, once the Christmas party season is over. This can affect well-being, their performance at work and team morale. Get staff involved with organising something they would all like to do together, and help them to fund a few activities.
On Stress Awareness Day, we look at some ways that stress at work can be managed
Don’t stay silent
If your workload is too overwhelming, talk to your manager or a colleague. Explain to them why you’re struggling, especially if the problem is out of your control. This helps to keep the people around you informed, which in itself should relieve some pressure. A manager or colleague may be able to offer a solution that you hadn’t thought of, or even take some of your workload off your shoulders.
Take breaks and try to relax
Stress slows down and distorts the cognitive functions of the brain. This has a direct impact on productivity and quality of work. While it may seem that you have no time to take breaks, not taking them can actually be counterproductive. Even just a few five minute breaks taken between tasks, or after working for a certain amount of time can help to keep your brain alert. Use this time to look away from your work, (particularly if you use a screen), get up, stretch and move and also make sure you are snacking healthily and keeping hydrated.
After an intense or particularly stressful workload is finished, try to take some proper time to recuperate. For example, if a job has taken weeks to complete and has been particularly stressful, consider taking the minimum of a long weekend off. This way, you will have something to look forward too whilst you are doing the work and a great way to wind down before starting a new project.
Try to get outside
Even if it’s a quick, brisk walk around the block during your lunch break, a change of scenery and some fresh air can help to calm you down and refresh your brain. Exercise is a great stress reliever and it also releases endorphins which improve mood. If you can’t get outside, try to leave your desk and walk about the building, use the stairs instead of the lift and even consider parking your car further away from the entrance of the building.
Try not to take work home with you
Don’t check your emails after you leave the office, unless it’s company policy. When at home, try to spend some time on yourself. A nutritious meal, a soothing bath or shower and a herbal tea or decaffeinated hot drink can all help you to unwind. Try to end screen time from devices and TV at least an hour before you intend to go to sleep. In this time, you could escape into a book, meditate or write your emotions down in a journal. The NHS also has a list of apps that they recommend in order to help with a range of mental health issues, including stress and anxiety.
Although teachers are not necessarily sat down for as long as office workers, they are still just as susceptible to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)
Standing for extended periods of time, bending or crouching down to low desks and chairs, or sitting on chairs designed for children can all put strain on a teacher’s body.
MSDs are one of the leading reasons for extended periods of time off across a range of professions throughout the UK workforce. The economical impact of extended absence is huge and in the case of teachers, the academic impact on students also needs to be considered.
Research shows that:
75% of teachers suffer neck and shoulder pain
53% have suffered with knee problems
33% have had trouble with their hips
82% experience MSD related pain at least once a week
What do teachers need to be aware of?
Teachers should pay special attention to how much time they spend on their feet, particularly if they are stood in one place, such as next to the whiteboard, for long periods of time with little movement.
Spending a lot of time standing, particularly in one position, can increase the risk of:
Painful swelling of the feet and legs
Lower back pain
Problems with the feet
Standing properly can help to alleviate pain and strain. When standing, feet should be shoulder width apart, with weight evenly distributed across both feet. Knees should be slightly bent, the back kept straight and shoulders pulled back.
When interacting with students, teachers should note how often they are crouching and bending down. These actions can put huge strain on the body and should be avoided where possible.
Achieving good musculoskeletal and postural health is all about making sure that the teacher is properly supported and comfortable throughout the range of tasks they must fulfill each day.
The Jollyback Teacher’s chair is a great addition to any classroom. It prevents the need for teacher’s to crouch and bend by allowing the teacher to sit at pupil height in an ergonomically supportive chair. The castor base and adult height handle, make the chair easy to move without the need for bending or lifting.
A supportive, ergonomic chair for working at their own desk should also be made a priority by teachers and their employers.
Musculoskeletal disorders and back pain account for 31 million of lost working days due to absenteeism. The costs to the economy are huge and perhaps that’s why prevention or intervention for these issues tends to focus on adults in the workforce rather than children.
However, research shows that increasing numbers of children are experiencing neck and back pain. 72% of primary and 64% of secondary school students reported that they had experienced back pain at school. There are currently no legal regulations regarding back and postural health for students that schools are required to follow.
Children spend approximately 30% of their waking hours at school and much of this time is spent seated. Freedom from back pain and good postural health has been shown to have a positive impact on concentration and the ability to learn.
Luckily, there are some simple things that you can do to care for student’s musculoskeletal health
The 30:30 Rule: for every 30 minutes spent seated, encourage students to stand up, move and stretch for 30 seconds
Limit the amount of time that students are sat cross-legged on the floor. Try to keep this time to around 10 minutes and encourage students to sit with their legs out in front of them
10% of a person’s body weight is recommended as the limit of safe weight for backpacks. Try to encourage students to repack their bags each night so they only bring what they need. Alternatively, consider the provision of lockers where students can store belongings that aren’t required for their next lesson.
Make sure everybody has a clear view of the front of the classroom, the white board and where you are standing to teach. Students should not need to twist, strain or stretch to clearly see these elements.
If a student is regularly hunching over their work in order to read or write, consider the quality of their eyesight and consider reporting this to their parents
Research from Westfield Health has found that almost half of employees regularly turn up to work too tired to function effectively. Despite this, 86% feel that they are not able to openly communicate with their manager about how their tiredness is affecting their performance.
34% of survey respondents said that their mental well-being has suffered because of their tiredness, whilst 55% stated that their fatigue extends beyond the office and affects their home life too.
37% state that tiredness has made them forgetful at work and 30% said it has made them short tempered with colleagues. Worryingly, 22% have found themselves actively drifting off to sleep at work and 13% have drifted off while driving. Furthermore, 30% have had an accident, made a serious mistake or felt extremely stressed at work due to fatigue.
Currently, 86% of employees feel that their employers or managers do not recognise the negative impacts and dangers of fatigue and only 9% believe that their employer would find fatigue a valid reason to call in sick.
Director of Well-being at Westfield Health, Richard Holmes, states that “the importance of rest time both at work and home should be taken seriously and encouraged by employers, and fatigue should be considered just as important as any other physical illness or injury”.
So, what can be done?
Try to break your work schedule down into smaller chunks. This makes larger tasks seem less overwhelming and also allows you to use the Pomodoro Technique which can help you to stay focused and less stressed.
Make sure you get up to move around as much as possible throughout the day. This is good for keeping your mind alert and a gentle outdoor exercise such as a short walk during your break time is proven to have a positive impact on mental health.
Try to slowly cut down on sugar and carbs and swap caffeinated drinks for herbal teas or water. This helps to keep energy levels steady throughout the day rather than providing an artificial peak caused by sugar or caffeine which results in an energy crash later in the day.
Make sure your work space is set up ergonomically. A good ergonomic chair and setting your monitor screen to the correct height, as well as the addition of a footrest are all great ways to keep your body free from aches, pains and strains. An ergonomically correct posture will also keep oxygen flow and circulation at an optimum to help you to stay more alert and focused. Freedom from aches and pains helps you to feel less tired and aids in keeping added stress from pain at bay.
Try to get as much rest at home as possible. Develop a good night time routine with screen time ending at least an hour before you plan to go to sleep. Also, unless it is required by your employer, do not bring your work home and don’t check or respond to emails whilst out of the office.
Consider taking a long weekend if you have enough holiday time to use. Regular, shorter breaks can often be better than one extended summer holiday. Try to use this time to relax and unwind as much as possible and make sure that you do not spend the time checking up on work.
Finally, if you feel able to, talk to your manager or employer about how your fatigue is affecting you both personally and professionally. You may, for example, be able to reach a flexible working agreement to allow you some extra time to rest, or you oculd ask for the opportunity to start and finish earlier so that you don’t spend any more time than necessary commuting.