There seems to be never-ending pressure on working people to increase productivity, and for organisations to be constantly seeking ways to deliver competitive results, and to maintain and improve their place in a competitive market place.Long hours with no break, eating a ready-made lunch at the desk, and working from mobile devices in the evenings and weekends, seem to be the accepted, and expected modus operandi – Part of the culture.
Out of hours working and remote working are on the up, thanks to the wonders of mobile technology. Great for work flexibility, but the downside is that people do not ever switch off.
Going into work when unwell – presenteeism – is increasing, with 7 in 10 people going into work despite being unwell, according to a recent CIPD survey. Workloads, and reluctance to put extra pressure on work colleagues, are the main reasons given.
The paradox is that none of these things is good for the individual, or the organisation, in the longrun.
On the contrary. Being constantly on the go delays recovery, reduces immunity, spreads bugs, and is more likely to lead to ongoing stress and strain, that could result in longterm work absence, mental health problems and even heart disease and some cancers. The knock-on effects of stress and strain impact the health of the individual and their family. It spreads to work colleagues, the workplace, and affects the culture of the organisation as a whole.
Stress and strain in this sense are contagious.
So what’s the solution? ……. Create the work-breaks habit.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but a day or two off when needed, is better for the individual, and for the company, than struggling into work and getting on with it. Presenteeism, according to the CIPD survey, negatively affects both engagement and creativity A few days absence however does not seem to. So it’s better off to take time to get well in the long run.
Take a break at lunchtime and leave the desk, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. Preferably go outside, especially during the winter months when it may be the only time to see daylight and catch that essential dose of Vitamin D. A walk to get lunch provides a mental rest, and physical movement that helps the circulation and blood flow, reduces back stiffness and neck strain. The improved blood flow to the brain helps concentration, energy and creativity.
Fix a time when work stops and try to keep to it. Use ‘airplane mode’ for at least some chunks of time, on days off. Brains and bodies repair and recover during rest, so it’s vital to switch off. Small units of time like 5 minutes can be enough.
Walk while you work. Long boardroom meetings can be inefficient and time consuming. Walking meetings can reduce the time wasted on waffle! It’s all that oxygen circulating again. “Walking outdoors trumps treadmills, walking indoors, and sitting still. Walking outdoors creates a free flow if ideas and creativity.” Concludes Marily Oppazzo in her research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology Learning, Memory, and Cognition.
Get social and active. Having non-work related time with colleagues builds trust and confidence, collaboration, and compassion! Start a lunchtime walking group, and walk together, and catch up with the non-work news. The Department of work and pensions’ Wellbeing report in 2014, recognised that an employee is less likely to have a spell of sickness absence lasting more than two weeks, if their employer is supportive about their health and wellbeing. Use a walk to catch up with team members or team leaders.
Our bodies have inbuilt self repair mechanisms, which generally work brilliantly. But cellular repair – body maintenance – takes time. We don’t get much involved in the repair, unless its not happening fast enough! But we should! Taking time to allow our bodies to repair is essential to our longterm health. It’s the ultimate prevention.
Work healthy, live healthy.
Work better, not harder.