Is sitting killing your call center agents?
Did you know that 50-70% of people spend six or more hours sitting every day? And that 20-35% spend four or more hours a day watching TV? According to Genevieve Healy, PhD, we have become so sedentary that 30 minutes a day at the gym may not counteract the detrimental effects of eight, nine or ten hours of sitting a day.
“For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking,” claims Martha Grogan, cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic.
The same as smoking?
“The Sitting Disease” refers to the dangerous bundle of physiological effects of extended sedentary behavior that is so common today. And with most call center agents sitting at their desks for their shifts, how can an organization help to combat that?
How to combat the sitting disease in the call center
Larry Swanson, author of Scared Sitless: The Office Fitness Book, has a few suggestions. “There’s a steady stream of new office-fitness furniture–products like treadmill desks, standing desks, and active seating–that can help call center agents to stay active at work. And there’s a growing awareness that you should at least stand up when you answer the phone, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and to otherwise re-introduce movement into our workdays.”
Beth Kanter, a Master Trainer and Speaker, recently gave a talk on walking meetings for the Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network. In it, she quotes a statistic that sitting over nine hours a day increases the risk of premature death by 40%–higher even than smoking.
- Hack a standing desk (the image to the left is the model I used to hack my own desk for $22)
- More standing desk hacks
- Encourage agents to take a walk, but don’t call it a break
- Encourage walking lunch breaks
- Hold standing meetings (even over the phone!)
- Give bonus points for doing sitting stretches
And since the call center atmosphere revolves around metrics and tracking, another suggestion is to encourage the use of fitness tracking applications, such as FitBit, to support helping everyone to find more opportunities to stand and walk during the day. If your team members are as competitive as I am, they’ll find creative ways to get to the top of the leaderboard!
How Spoken combats the sitting disease
Spoken’s CEO was determined not to let our company’s rapid growth get in the way of our team’s health. Two years ago, at a company meeting, Spoken CEO Howard Lee gave the entire company Nike Fuel bands to spur a bit of friendly competition—and to remind everyone to keep moving during the day. Last month, at the 2015 annual company meeting, he included a surprise on the team-building scavenger hunt: a stop at the local Brooks Trailhead store, where every team member received a custom fitting and a new pair of Brooks running shoes.
“We’re growing really quickly, and that means that everyone is pitching in, with long hours and working through weekends,” said Lee. “But our people and their health has to come first. The C-suite needs to put their money where their mouth is and give everyone the time, freedom and tools to combat the dangers of sitting all day.”
What can you do to lengthen your agent’s life span?