5 easy tricks to a varied workday

Woman with neck and shoulder pain at work


Do you experience discomfort or even pain throughout the day?

It may be your static working position behind it all. Read on to find out five simple tips for how you add some variety to your workday. 


1. Walk-and-talk

If the meeting does not require any equipment, such as a slideshow or board, talk to your colleague about having your discussions while taking a walk. This will create variety in the shape of movement rather than sedentary work and hopefully give your brain some fresh air. The physical variation and new surroundings can encourage you to think "outside the box" while helping you concentrate when you come back to your desk. 

Try to make telephone calls on the go or deliver messages to your colleagues face-to-face rather than sending an e-mail. If your colleague is sitting on a completely different floor, this is a clear opportunity to loosen up your body and maybe even raise your pulse for a bit. Mental and physical variation helps reset your focus if you get tired of a long, drawn-out task. 

Read NHS' articles about moving more.


free ergonomic checklist



2. Does your workplace encourage movement?

The concept of workplace nudging involves influencing desired behaviour change amongst employees. In this context, you can nudge yourself to achieve more variation and movement in your workday by arranging your workplace in a certain way. This could include positioning the printer, bin, or coffee machine at the opposite end of the office so that you have to move a little to use them.

You could also put a sign up on the lift that encourages people to take the stairs instead. Persuade your boss to place yoga mats or exercise bands in the kitchen, and plan an internal competition about who can achieve a specific goal first. 


3. Exercise

Set the alarm on your phone to ring every three hours. When it goes off, it is time to do your regular exercises. They can include a varied programme that targets different muscle areas and joints. Two minutes are enough to achieve movement and relaxation to avoid physical discomfort and pain. Get inspiration about possible exercises for you to do here:

Video: 10 Best Stretches for Office Workers


4. Working posture

If you have the opportunity to choose something other than an office chair to sit on, take advantage, for example, by sitting on a pilates ball or a balance chair. On these, you naturally activate specific muscles that you otherwise do not use when sitting in a traditional office chair. Activating muscles and joints means you prevent and ease any tension or pain. 

If you do not have access to seating alternatives at your workplace, you can also settle for varying the position on your chair. Investigate your chair's different functions, as it most likely allows you to sit at several different heights, angles and positions, depending on the setting. If you have a height-adjustable desk, then remember to take this opportunity to add a little variety. For example, raise the table before you go to breakfast or go home for the day, so you are automatically nudged to stand up and work when you return to your workstation. 


5. Let your assignments dictate the variation

If you are about to read a long text, print it out and read it on the sofa. If you are going to brainstorm a new idea, take the pencil and notepad with you into the kitchen and sit at a barstool. If you have multiple phone calls in a day, consider how many of them you can while walking.

You can also make a rule that every time you perform a specific task, such as reading e-mails, then you stand up. Using these methods, you vary your position and surroundings, which increases your physical and mental performance.

Read about everyday ergonomic risks.

There are countless ways that you can achieve variation and movement in your otherwise sedentary work. Be creative and set yourself free for a painless day. 

Good luck with creating your variations!