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Design An Office That Won’t Kill You
 

Research shows the typical office design is pretty bad for your health. Here are a few tips for creating a healthy space for you and your employees.

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Sitting seems to be among the safest of activities, but new research shows it can actually kill you. The unsettling study found that spending most of your time sitting, and then attempting to make up for it with a few hours at the gym here and there, isn't really that healthy.

But what are you supposed to do with this depressing insight? You've likely done all the basics to keep yourself healthy despite your long hours at the office, but you're not about to trade your career as an entrepreneur for the life of a lumberjack or personal trainer.

Luckily, best-selling author and fitness nut Tim Ferriss has suggestions – a lot of them. In a ridiculously detailed blog post this week, he lays out how to resolve this sitting issue, and he also reveals everything his company does to promote a healthy working environment. Here are some highlights:

  • Create alternate desk types. "Every person in our office has a choice of three desk setups," write Ferriss. Employees can choose between a standing desk, a desk with an exercise ball for a seat, or the standard set-up. "We’re happy to report that, after working in this environment for more than three months, a majority of the people in our office have chosen to use standing desks or exercise ball chairs. Many folks, including myself, periodically switch between the two," says Ferriss.
  • Don't neglect ergonomics. Tendinitis won't kill you, but it sucks and discourages you from being active, so don't slack off on things like ergonomic keyboards and mice. Ferriss also offers employees "hand grippers (typically around $20) for relieving stress and improving grip strength. A tennis ball is a cheaper alternative."
  • Get lots of natural light. "Our office has almost no walls; it’s primarily set up in an open-floor layout. The walls that we do have are made of glass, which allow us to write notes on them. This way, we don’t need any whiteboards," he says.
  • Dump the conference room. "When the New York weather allows and a meeting topic doesn’t require taking extensive notes, we have walking meetings. This is an easy way to integrate more exercise into the day," says Ferriss. (Wired founder Kevin Kelly's blog has mentioned this technique as well.)

Check out the original post for more info. It is incredibly detailed and offers links to all the products Ferriss recommends. One thing Ferriss doesn't mention, which is surprising considering he's the author of lifestyle business bible The 4-Hour Workweek, is allowing your team members flexibility in terms of when and where they work (within the demands of the business of course).

How much easier would it be to keep fit if they could choose to take an extra hour at lunch to hit the gym and make the work up in the afternoon, or leave early to take advantage of good weather for a bike ride home and telecommute the rest of the day?

What do you do to keep your office from killing you and your team?

IMAGE: Corbis
Last updated: Mar 13, 2012

JESSICA STILLMAN is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist.
@EntryLevelRebel




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