HR & Management

Virgin Media office staff stand for two hours a day to improve health

3 min read

24 April 2015

Former deputy editor

Sit-stand desks in the UK could become commonplace in the near future if things go well for the University of Chester and Virgin Media. The duo is working on a wellbeing experiment that encourages office staff to stand for two hours each day to improve health.

The trial is taking place at the Sheffield contact centre of Virgin Media, where Chester University’s professor of applied exercise science John Buckley is hoping to put an end to sedentary lifestyles in the office.

With his research team, Buckley will analyse the impact a more active working day, which in this instance requires Virgin’s office staff to stand for at least two hours per shift, will have on productivity and wellbeing. Results will determine how Virgin Media manages its workplace in the future.

Buckley, said: “The simple act of standing for even as little as two hours per day can increase muscle activity to have a significant impact on health and wellbeing. This unprecedented study with Virgin Media will allow us gain a more comprehensive understanding of the benefits working on your feet can have on health and performance.”

Two groups at the Sheffield office volunteered to use sit-stand desks that allow users to adjust the height of their table. The first group will use the flexible furniture for six months and will then switch with the second group which will also participate for six months.

Read more on health and wellbeing:

A study from the British Heart Foundation in March revealed British office workers, 45 per cent of women and 37 per cent of men, are spending fewer than 30 minutes on their feet.

The sedentary habits could result in diabetes and cardiovascular issues, according to the report, and 78 per cent of people admit they feel they sit down too much each day. Taking things to the extreme, 31 per cent even delay toilet trips to stay in their seat for longer.

Health has been a big concern in British businesses in recent weeks, as it was revealeda third of employees expect their employers to combat obesity.

Maurice Daw, chief people officer at Virgin Media, said: “We are always looking for new ways to improve our people’s health and wellbeing. The results of previous studies are impressive and we are looking forward to working with the University of Chester to explore the longer term benefits achieved from this way of working.”

The companies drew upon other studies that claimed a person could burn up to 30,000 calories by standing for two-three hours a day at work, which amounts to half a stone of fat.

Posturite is responsible for the sit-stand desks, which will also be introduced to a number of other Virgin Media sites across the country.