Our Say: Encourage workers to take a stand

SMALL STEP: PETstock Ballarat's Amiee Whelan, Brad Scott, Warwick Dabner, Jessie Guilfoyle lace-up for a lunchtime hot lap on Tuesday.
SMALL STEP: PETstock Ballarat's Amiee Whelan, Brad Scott, Warwick Dabner, Jessie Guilfoyle lace-up for a lunchtime hot lap on Tuesday.

WHEN you look out the office window on a grey Ballarat winter’s day, going for a lunchtime walk can start to lose its appeal. This is where office leaders can make powerful small steps on a complex, multi-pronged problem.

Sit-stand desks could be a cost-effective way for Australian offices to increase productivity and reduce soaring obesity-related health issues, according to a new Deakin University study. The report found a 20 per cent uptake for sit-stand desks and support in Australian offices would cost $185.2 million or about $344 per person but offset by massive health saving with less absenteeism and increased productivity.

But if the prospect of sit-stand desks is about as appealing as a game of office musical chairs, there are still plenty of simple office adjustments that can make a stand on the bigger health landscape. It could be an office prompt to stand up or take a short walk every hour, or trying walking or standing meetings (both can be inside from the brutal winter chill).

The little things we all can do.

Ballarat company PetStock are already setting the tone nationally with hot laps – braving the chill as a team –  and squat o’clock sessions. PetStock marketing general manager Dion Collar told The Courier it was a cultural buy-in to ensure the whole business got involved. PetStock has noticed the healthier differences and other businesses have started to take note of the hot lapping pack on Ballarat streets.

But there are other ways workers can take a stand as well. Jane Martin, from national health body alliance Obesity Policy Coalition, told The Courier last week simple changes all add up – particularly if community leaders were adapting the message in the same direction. This could be in reconsidering fundraiser drives, like chocolate boxes, in offices which are so eemingly vital at three o’clock under work stress.

Instead of waiting, hoping or crying for the government to take action or implement a sugar tax, small offices changes can be empowering and, in turn, shows governments we are demanding support to eat well and move more, like they want us to do.