Towards the end of last month, Behavioural Futurist, William Higham scared the living daylights out of us all when he introduced ‘Emma’ to the world. For those with active jobs, Emma might not have been quite so terrifying but for sedentary office workers, she provides a harrowing look into the future.
Emma is a lifesize model of what the average office worker could look like within the next 20 years which, for many, will be within their professional lifetimes. The report was commissioned by office equipment supplier, Fellowes and was aptly titled, The Work Colleague of the Future.
Looking like something straight off the set of House of Wax or some other sleep-depriving horror film, Emma displays a whole host of gory symptoms linked to modern office life.
• A hyper-hunched back due to long periods of sitting
• Eczema due to the effects of poor indoor air quality
• Varicose veins as a result of poor blood flow and inactivity
• Dry, red, irritated eyes from so much time spend looking at screens
• A rotund stomach and swollen limbs due to extremely low activity levels
Ouch… that’s quite the portfolio of health problems our placebo office worker has got going on there – and they’re just the ones you can see! Thankfully, Emma is just a model but experts warn that if drastic changes aren’t made to our working environments now, this is the reality many of us could be facing.
The report also revealed a raft of pretty scary statistics which show how many office workers are already dealing with serious health issues including:
• Sore eyes (50%)
• Back problems (49%)
• Headaches (48%)
• Stiff neck (45%)
• Vision problems (32%)
• Weight gain (30%)
• Sore legs (18%)
Higham likens these issues to the physical ailments that emerged during the Industrial Revolution, such as low immunity, repetitive strain injuries, malnutrition and underdeveloped bones as a result of little to no breaks and spending so much time in factories with no natural light.
Suitably horrified? Good – us too. So, what can be done to fend off the curse of Emma?
• Invest in a height adjustable desk so that you can stand at regular intervals during the day
• Avoid using any technology devices for the first and last hour of your day (at least)
• Make sure your desk, chair and computer monitors are set up correctly to support good posture
• Get as much fresh air as possible to counteract the effects of poor indoor air quality
• Bring some plants into your workspace to help purify the atmosphere
• Sit by a natural light source whenever possible to support the absorption of vital vitamins
• Take regular breaks and be as active as possible outside of the office
Do you have any of your own tips on how to improve your health and wellbeing in the workplace? Leave them in the comments below or come and share them with over on Twitter or Facebook.