The future of work is a constantly debated and hot topic. With the current transitions to remote and hybrid work models, we are seeing just how much is left unanswered. As robotics and automation become more and more common in the workforce, we need to look at what the future holds for human workers. The current trends? More desk jobs. This is not inherently an issue. Desk jobs allow for a lot of flexibility, especially if businesses incorporate hybrid and remote workstyles. The issue comes down to our health. While we have made great leaps in technology of both the software and hardware that sits on our desk, we have made little progress on taking care of those sitting at our desk. The bottom line: The health and wellness of workers will inevitably diminish if we continue treating desk jobs as sitting room only occupations.
The future of work has to involve a way for us to improve the impact that desk jobs have on our bodies. While going to the gym and drinking a nutritious shake seem “healthy” on paper, they are simply supplementation for a lack in healthy movement and nutrition throughout the rest of the day. The issue with supplementation, as some may know, is that it does not sustain us, but simply adjusts for the things we lack. We cannot thrive by exclusively eating vitamins, just as we cannot function adequately if we sit for hours without breaks. Future thinking leaders should reformat the goals for companies with desk work employees.
Firstly, there is much to be said for result driven work. The concept of working 8 hours a day should not be a punishment for those completing their work in 5 hours.
Secondly, we need to facilitate movement throughout the culture of the company. This means scheduling specific breaks for movement, having meetings in standing and walking, and incentivizing employees to use the gym with time off instead of just a discounted membership. The absolute ideal, which most companies will be unlikely to hit, is an average of 4 hours of sitting during an 8 hour work day.
Lastly, we need to address leadership on all levels of the company. Any employee should be allowed to lead and take initiative, however small. This is how culture is created and maintained.
We are not machines. If we want to move into a more dynamic future of business, the future needs to be full of dynamic movement. You won’t get to the future sitting down.