Walking our way to a healthier, more productive workplace
Gemma Ryde, Lecturer in Physical Activity and Health at the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, considers how the Step Count Challenge can support workplace productivity and improve wellbeing by increasing activity and reducing stress.
As a researcher in the area of workplace physical activity, I am often faced with workplaces saying ‘can you show me that productivity will not be impacted if employees are away being active’. Employees themselves also face challenges from social norms in the workplace that assume if you are not at your desk then you are not working. Even though I personally feel that being active helps me to work better, I still struggle with what others might think if they knew I was away from my desk being active during work hours.
These questions led to a new research project as part of the Step Count Challenge that looked at how it might influence productivity, stress and work engagement. We found that the Step Count Challenge can help increase employees' step counts which is supported by our previous work where we looked at step data over four years of the challenge, but also have a positive influence on their productivity and stress. This is an important finding for workplaces and employees who might be concerned that productivity might go down. It is also interesting that stress levels can be improved potentially as a result of the teams aspect of the challenge. These are the main findings from this research and what this might mean for workplaces and employees thinking of taking part in the Step Count Challenge:
- Increase your step counts – this might seem obvious but it’s good to show the challenge works! This is great for those who spend a lot of time sitting at work or who are trying to get more active
- Be more productive – so taking a break from work to be active is not as selfish as you think.
- Don’t feel guilty about not being at your desk. Just say you are on a productivity boosting break!
- Feel less stressed – staying connected with colleagues through activities like the Step Count Challenge can be good for our wellbeing and help to beat stress