A survey conducted by health and wellbeing provider Westfield Health found a quarter (26%) of workers were already sitting down for more than nine hours per day before the virus outbreak.
HR now predicts working from home could make this issue worse, with 74% of HR professionals acknowledging the link between poor physical fitness and absenteeism.
The Wellbeing Index found professionals in the finance sector were the most sedentary after spending an average of 7.58 hours per day sitting down, followed by workers in travel and transport (7.41 hours) and IT and telecoms (7.22 hours).
This is compared to the national average of seven hours sitting down at home and work.
Two-thirds (65%) of workers admitted to spending more than an hour continuously sitting down at work.
Dave Capper, CEO of Westfield Health, said the Coronavirus outbreak should be the impetus needed for Britain to address its short and long term health challenges.
He said: “This needs to be the health scare catalyst that fires the UK towards being healthier, both for our personal health and economic health as a nation.
“We know that absenteeism is costing many UK businesses hundreds of thousands of pounds a year and days off for physical and mental health are on the rise.”
Almost two-thirds (61%) of those surveyed said they were worried about the impact a sedentary lifestyle has on their health.
Capper added: “Employers have an obligation to make sure this doesn’t happen. Though there's a lot to think about at the moment, helping your people stay active not only boosts the immune system, but can lead to greater productivity and a significantly happier workforce.”