Promoting Physical Wellbeing in the Workplace: Providing Working Adults with a Tool to Reduce their Sedentary Behavior

Open Access
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Michal AdarRenate De BruinDavid Keyson

Abstract: Whether it is from the office-office or the home office, creating a physical work environment is essential for both improving work performance as well as for the physical and mental wellbeing of employees. But as jobs are becoming increasingly less active, and working adults are spending almost a third of their lives in the office, most of their time is now spent sitting behind a desk. This time in sedentary behavior is increasing rapidly on a global scale and has become a great area of concern, as research has proven that this behavior is linked to an increase in all-cause mortality. To reduce the sedentary nature of the workplace, many companies are now replacing the standard desk with sit-stand desks (SSDs). SSDs are height adjustable desks that allow the user to work in either a sitting position or a standing position. Unfortunately, even as more companies are implementing these desks in their workspace, many studies indicate that there is a lack of utilization among working adults, with many only transitioning the desks to a standing position once a month or less.This paper presents a user-centered design project examining how to reduce the long-term sedentary behavior of desk-based working adults by motivating them to utilize their SSDs to make more transitions between sitting and standing. The project involved an agile design approach based on a cyclic process where a range of design techniques and research methods were used to look deeper into the practices and habits of working adults and better understand why this lack of use occurs and how it can be changed. These design techniques and research methods include a literature study, auto-ethnographical research, and 11 interviews with both active and non-active SSD users. An analysis of the differences between active and non-active users,led to the hypothesis that to reduce the SB of desk-based working adults, the use of SSDs in the workplace should be normalized by ensuring that working adults understand the benefits and proper use of SSDs while also offering the key tools: (1) reminders of when to transiting between sitting & standing; (2) social support; (3) awareness of effects on body & mind ; (4) task-based transitions. . This hypothesis was then used to initiate an empirical research through design process. Through this process, the final concept, BMDesk Application and Controller, was created. The BMDesk showcases an interactive digital platform and controller which utilizes the previously defined design opportunities to aid desk-based working adults in becoming more in tune with their physical and mental state while also providing them with the support they need to reduce their long-term sedentary behavior by utilizing their SSDs. The platform provides the user with an interactive tool that (1) gives them control over setting up their workday and defining how many sit-stand transitions they want to make and how long they want to remain in each position; (2) triggers a light reminder indicating to the user when it is time to check in and (3) provides a step-by-step body and mind self-evaluation included in the digital application; (4) based on the self-evaluation, the application provides a personalized tip and option to “learn more” about how the user can alter their position to relieve them of any physical or mental pain they are experiencing; (5) allows the user to choose if they actually want to change position and provides an additional reminder after a preset amount of time in the case they do not switch; (6) uses a two-way LED infrared sensor to automatically track the number of transitions and how long the user is in each position; and (7) allows the user to connect with the coworkers or friends to setup challenges or select times to standup together.

Keywords: Sedentary Behavior, Sit-Stand Desks, Behavior Change

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1002600

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