The survey of 1,000 office workers by office supply company Fellowes found that 24% were uncomfortable at their desks, and 25% said that their working environment has a negative impact on their productivity.
Workers also found themselves being distracted because it was uncomfortably hot (37%), having problems with IT (42%) or through the bad habits of their colleagues (30%). Half (50%) reported that they are unproductive for up to an hour every day as a result of such distractions. Fellowes estimates that this costs the UK 21 million working days every month, or £3 billion a year.
When it comes to possible solutions, 63% of office workers suggested that standing up at work and being more active has helped them to increase productivity. Four in 10 (40%) of those polled believed working from home or remotely would be more productive, while 61% thought they would be more productive with a four-day week.
Stephen Bowden, chartered ergonomist at Fellowes, highlighted the negative link between concentration and discomfort. “One of the main causes of presenteeism is distractions that come in physical, psychological and social forms, which reduces the ability of the person to concentrate on and complete the tasks at hand,” he said. “When it comes to distractions from your work area design you should try to pre-empt discomfort with a change of posture instead of being prompted by discomfort.”
He suggested that an understanding of the body can help to ease such discomfort. “The human body is designed to move throughout the entire day, so normal everyday movements such as standing up from sitting can help manage aches and pains,” he said. “While working with your computer simple ergonomic tools can support one’s posture, such as foot supports, back supports, wrist supports, screen risers and sit-stand solutions.”