3 min read

In case you needed another reason to take your ergonomic health seriously, take a look at Emma. 


Picture: Matt Alexander/PA WireSource:AAP 


Emma is a life-size model of what a team of health experts have determined the average office worker could look like in 20 years' time if they aren’t more mindful of ergonomics. Complete with a hunched back, varicose veins, swollen arms, legs and face and a rotund stomach, Emma displays the damaging effects of sedentary behaviour in the office. 

To create this mannequin, researchers interviewed 3000 office workers and collated a range of prominent health issues shared by majority of these workers, all as a result of poor posture and inadequately set-up workstations (poor ergonomics, lighting and air quality, etc.) 

The report titled The Work Colleague of the Future examines the long-term health of office workers and concludes that the most recent and damaging trend in the workplace is sitting still.  


“We’re regularly spending hours at our desks with little movement, and our bodies are starting to atrophy in response. It’s accelerating not just musculoskeletal disorders and weaker limbs, but blood clots, heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.”  - William Higham, The Work Colleague of the Future 


This study stresses the need for employers and employees alike to start making radical changes to their work environment or they run the risk of suffering with long-term chronic health conditions and ultimately a weaker, inefficient, and unproductive workforce.  

The recommendations to prevent sedentary behaviour in the workplace are already out there. However, Emma serves as a shocking visual reminder that we should be taking this health advice more seriously.  


The report challenges employers to better facilitate for active breaks and active work spaces to help employees incorporate more physical movement into their work day – But how? 

The general recommendation for adults (18 years +) is to minimise the amount of time spent sedentary and to break up long periods of sitting. In the workplace where long periods of sitting is expected, the Heart Foundation recommends standing up from your desk and moving every 30 minutes.  

An effective and healthy workplace takes into account two main categories: healthy practice and healthy environment. Healthy practice refers to physical movement and healthy habits undertaken in the workplace. For example, active work breaks, walking in the office and sitting ergonomically. Healthy environments refer to your surroundings, for example good lighting and air quality and a clean environment.  

For the purposes of this blog, we’ll take a closer look into healthy practice and how making simple changes to your workstations can enable you to adopt more healthy habits that prevent sedentary behaviour and encourage active work.  


Source: Design Boom 

As we mentioned earlier, it’s advised by health professionals that long periods of sitting should be broken up every 30 minutes to relax your muscles and encourage blood flow. When there’s a lot of work to get done in a day, constantly interrupting your workflow for a quick stretch may feel unproductive and tedious – but it is necessary for your physical health.  

To combat this, sit to stand desks are the perfect solution to encourage movement without breaking your concentration or causing too much of a distraction. Whether you’re looking to elevate your existing desks, or replace them entirely with sit to stand desks, you should be looking at Sylex Ergonomics 

Sylex’s Arise range features height adjustable, sit to stand desks that allow you to easily transition your position from seated to standing within seconds.  Sit to stand desks are available as additional accessories or complete desks depending on your budget and workplace layout. To transform any existing desk into a sit to stand desk, we would recommend the Arise Deskalator. This unit simply sits on top of your existing desk to allow you to change your position throughout the day. 

For a more permanent sit to stand desk solution, we would recommend the Arise Basix which uses dual motors and an electric control panel to raise the desk from a seated to standing position as you need. To make keeping active easy in the workplace, this desk also features a sedentary alert system that alerts you when you’ve been seated for too long and should stand! 


If you want to take it a step further, exercise furniture has become more and more popular in the workplace, particularly for those working from home. Exercise office furniture is exactly what it sounds like – it's a combination of exercise equipment and office furniture, so you can kill two birds with one stone.  

The Spindesk is an exercise bike with an optional desk tray that allows you to reap the physical benefits of an exercise bike, including weight loss, muscle strengthening and improved blood and oxygen flow, whilst you work. 

Source: Sylex SpinDesks in use at local library

These pieces of exercise office furniture not only prevent sedentary behaviour in the office but allow you to passively maintain a healthy level of fitness which contributes to improved memory and brain functioning and a strengthened immune system – all helping improve your overall health and helping you work more productively. 


Office furniture designed to not only allow for movement but actually encourage physical exercise can play a huge role in maintaining a healthy and active office place. 

For Emma, a number of her health issues are now permanent, namely, her hunched back and varicose veins, however, it’s not too late for most employees to make the necessary changes now to prevent a similar fate. 

If you don’t know how to start creating your active office, get in touch with our team of ergonomic specialists today! 

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.