Is Your Business Doing Enough To Promote Screen Breaks?

Using screens in the workplace is associated with a wealth of problems, from neck, shoulder, arm and back pain to fatigue and eye strain. A high proportion of people who use display screen equipment in the workplace report aches, pains and general discomfort, and while the HSE says most of these conditions don’t indicate a serious problem, it makes sense to avoid them.

Employees who are taken care of and feel comfortable during the working day are much more likely to be productive. The key to working comfortably at a desk or in front of a screen lies in taking regular breaks, making staff change their posture rather than sitting in the same position day in day out.

A simple plan of action funded by the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health could be an answer to this problem.

The industry body teamed up with Derby University academics to explore options that would encourage workers to take more breaks. They found that planning for breaks made the biggest change in screen workers’ behaviour.

During the study 195 people were split into groups. Group one was simply asked to take more breaks, group two told to draw up a plan for taking breaks, group three was given an hourly prompt from a buzzing device, while group four had a buzzer in addition to a formal break plan.

While the study found the buzzer didn’t increase break-taking by a significant amount, participants reported that the simple act of wearing the device encouraged them to get up more.

The key to enhanced break-taking seems to be the simple task of advanced planning. However, there were additional increases in taking postural breaks in offices where employees understood the benefits and were backed by senior management. There were also improvements when management made changes to the environment to support increased breaks.

If you like further information on break-taking and the benefits for screen workers, the OHBM team can help. Small changes to your workplace can lead to big improvements for your business.

Is Smartphone Use Causing Stress Within An “Always On” Culture?

Every year, 400,000 people in the UK claim work related stress is making them ill, according to Dr Alasdair Emslie, president of the Society of Occupational Medicine, as reported by the BBC. He says changes in technology are contributing to this stress. It’s not a surprise when you consider the “always-on” state many of us currently exist in, both in our work and personal lives.

Smartphones are a fantastic invention in many ways. They allow us to stay connected, do business from anywhere and everywhere and in theory increase our level of productivity. But is this “always connected” approach to business causing the work-life balance to go awry? Some experts think it is; that the increased demands of smartphone connectivity is making employees feel as though they’re unable to cope.

Increasing smartphone use

Ofcom reports that the amount of time we spend connected to media is rising. In fact, smartphones have caused our daily total media consumption to grow from 8 hours 48 minutes in 2010 to over 11 hours in 2014.

Many of us check our smartphones first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Three quarters of people are even reported to take their phones into the loo with them. Literally the only break from smartphones is sleep. Checking work emails and calls at all hours of the day isn’t giving employees the time and space they require to switch off, or spend time with their families or pursuing other interests.

Plus, according to a PwC report called The Future of Work – A Journey To 2022, we’re not working more productively even despite all of this extra data and connectivity.

The business consequences

If employees are expected to be constantly connected to their smartphones for work purposes, companies may well witness an increase in stress levels. Stress goes hand in hand with increased employee absenteeism, as well as unhealthy practices like drinking, smoking, and eating junk food.

On top of this, there is the problem of overworking. The European Working Time Directive caps the working week at 48 hours with an 11 hour break within every 24 hours. Employees won’t be operating under this legislation if they’re glued to their smartphones morning, noon and night.

Legislation and occupational health surrounding smartphone use is a serious issue for modern businesses – have you considered it carefully enough?

OHBM is a professional Manchester-based occupational health advisor. Please do get in touch with us for a free overview of your business’ occupational health.


A Professional Occupational Health Advisor For Manchester Businesses

If you’re concerned about the wellbeing of your staff but not sure how to implement an occupational health plan, rest assured at OHBM we offer a straightforward approach. Our occupational health advisors operate in the Manchester area and beyond, helping boost the productivity of your workforce.

It’s quite simple really, poor health and wellbeing amongst the workforce leads to staff that lack the motivation to do the job properly. They will have a lower level of output than happy, healthy staff and take more time off sick. Health problems like stress can cause severe issues in your business, and mental problems can lead to unhealthy practices such as binge drinking and overeating. Altogether, this can have a severe implications on your business’ bottom line.

At OHBM we make it our mission to help you tackle this problem. Our occupational health advisors have been operating in the field for many years, providing an expert approach to improving employee health and wellbeing.

We offer a variety of services, including:

  • Clear advice about how your business can work within government guidelines to improve employee health.
  • Ad-hoc information for senior management within office hours – just give us a call.
  • Stress management, sickness absence management, drug and alcohol screening and more.

Start the ball rolling today with a complimentary review of your workplace. Get in touch with an OBHM occupational health advisor here.