Health for desk-based employees

Mental health for employees is one of the most discussed topics in the current era, however the physical fitness, especially for desk-based employees is often ignored.

In the modern world physical fitness is considered as the main health concern by the medical and fitness professionals; however, employer often unintentionally ignores this.

The NHS has highlighted that physical fitness and exercise results in lowering the risk of early death up to 30%.

Employees sitting in one position and not taking shorter breaks to get away from screen can result in tiredness and affect the eyes, leading to poor physical and social health. This can then lead to poor health and potentially serious diseases or health issues, including coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.

For the directors, HR, operations and finance teams this cause issues for the people it is responsible for, impacting the businesses through hidden financial losses in terms of absences, replacement hiring, training, loss of experience, etc.

What needs to be done?

There are some simple rules which can be applied at workplace to ensure that people are getting enough time to get away from screens to avoid tiredness and can focus on their physical, social and mental wellbeing.

Generic Mailbox

At lot of organisation emails can be sent to a generic mailbox, with multiple receivers, and are considered acceptable.

People should consider, when sending an email to a generic mailbox, whether it is really meant for everyone in that mailbox. If not, then the most important part is to consider sending the email to just the specific people needed to receive the message.


Sometimes meetings arranged and people, who don’t need to attend, being added. This can be from senior members of an organisation and can make people feel obliged to attend when they aren’t needed.

This takes time from their day and adds pressure on the time they have to carry out their work, potentially decreasing the time available to having a short break and taking some exercise.

Consider if everyone on the invite list needs to attend, or if their time is best spent doing their own tasks for that day.

Preparation of meeting notes or updates

Senior management can sometimes feel that preparations for meetings, including presentations and notes, need to be done by people who might not even attending the meeting or don’t have the knowledge to prepare sufficient documents.

If preparation is required, ensure it’s done by those who know the information and are likely to attend and be involved in the meeting.

Lunch Breaks

Employees, HR and senior management should ensure that employees are taking proper breaks away from work desks, as this can help in refreshing and gaining energy back.

Breaks will also help avoid tiredness from sitting in the same place, through effective interaction in time away from focusing on their daily tasks.

In turn this will help people have energy for the entire time they are in the workplace.

Smarter Working

Smarter working is a key tool which lot of workplaces are now considering. This takes employees away from typical eight-hour jobs in an office and gives them flexibility to make themselves more effective, such as working from home, flexible working hours and dedicated time off during the day.

This also helps people have a better work/life balance and in turn a better outlook to the organisation they work for.

What can these changes do?

All together these minor changes can help in regaining up to*:

  • 11 hours a week from unproductive emails management
  • 7.75 hours a week from unproductive meetings
  • 4 hours a week from preparing meeting notes or updates

*Employees generally have to recover this time by doing more than their allocated hours or reducing times on lunch or other breaks.

By making these changes, it can result in avoiding the tiredness experienced by desk-based employees due to improper breaks, unpaid overtime and helps in reducing their work-based mental stress, resulting in a focus on their physical, mental, and social health.

Studies had shown that workers with effective work-life balances have better physical health and stay longer with organisations.

This results in saving hidden costs and time within the HR, as well as the operations, functions and to the organisation itself, reducing sickness levels, early retirements, regular hiring, frequent training, and loss of experience.