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Move your way during the working day

Dr Sarah Morton from the Physical Activity for Health Research Centre at The University of Edinburgh tells us about a new toolkit designed to help people move more whilst working from home.

Published: 05/05/2023

Over the past few years many of us made the shift to working at home – and for lots of us, we are still spending at least some of the working week at home. This has been great for many reasons – many people have found they have more time to spend with family and friends, more leisure time – you might even have picked up a new hobby, or perhaps you’ve simply enjoyed not having to navigate the rush-hour commute! While all those things have had a positive impact on our lives, there are also some negatives that have emerged as a result of working at home. The issue that our research has been most interested in is elevated sedentary behaviour – or put simply, in the context of working at home, too much desk-time.

Spending too much time at the desk without moving away from it can have a negative impact on short and long term physical and mental health, and wellbeing. You may have noticed that on those days when you are working at home you don’t move so much in comparison to when you are in the office.  When working at home we’ve lost those short walks to the printer, the coffee run to the local café, moving around/between work buildings to meet colleagues. In fact, you might not even have to move from your home-working desk at all for some things – think about all of those back-to-back online meetings! So, with that in mind, our research set out to better understand this behaviour, and over the past two years we have been working with stakeholders who have an interest in workplace wellbeing, and employees and line managers who are working from home to find out how we could support those working at home to move more during the work at home day.

Through our research and drawing from behaviour change theory we have developed a toolkit that includes a number of strategies to support more movement when working at home. For more information about our research, please have a read at our last blog. The toolkit has been designed to be delivered over four weeks with a different theme being the focus of each week. Ideas include making plans to move during online meetings, scheduling active breaks, using technology to set reminders to move, and doing a ‘home-to-home’ commute on your work at home days. These can be followed over four weeks, or you can ‘dip in’ and use the strategies that appeal to you. All of our suggestions have been developed to fit into the working at home day without the need for any special equipment. Once you have completed the four weeks – it’s over to you to consider which of the ideas fit best into your work at home day and to make plans to stick with them for the long term.

Our toolkit is currently being hosted on the Actify platform, and can be accessed for free here: Actify.