July 19, 2015 - Mike Dilke
Personal fitness trackers such as Fitbit and Jawbone and becoming much more popular and some companies are using them to assess the fitness levels of the workforce as reported in this article by BBC news.
It hasn't become compulsory to use one in any workplace yet yet and that would obviously be highly questionable but it is a growing trend.
In 2013, about 2,000 companies offered their employees fitness trackers, according to technology research company Gartner. In 2014, this rose to around 10,000.
Having healthier staff who have more energy to get on with their jobs and have fewer days of sick has got to be a good thing. "A lot of companies view [these schemes] as giving them a competitive advantage," says Ryan Martin, wearable technology analyst at 451 Research.
Most companies who offer this type of thing are in the US where health insurance costs are very often paid by the employer so they pay lower insurance premiums if their staff are fit as well as gaining the more obvious advantages of fewer sick days and more and engaged staff.
The BBC article makes the point that people who measure their levels of exercise, how well they sleep, calorie intake etc are the ones that already lead an active life. Corporate fitness and wellness programmes want to reach the more sedentary part of the population - not just "the worried well".
Companies argue that the workplace is a good way to do this - with the less active types more likely to take part if their colleagues are already doing it. That seems like it might be true as peer pressure is a great motivator.
Making offices a little less sedentary and encouraging people to move more during the work day seems like a good way forward. I am writing this while standing up which I find to be a beneficial way to work sometimes. I don't stand up all the time and mix it up with sitting. My chair is one that I can't lounge back in so I don't get 'stuck' in it and not move for hours. This helps me keep my body and mind more active.
I do wear a Jawbone fitness tracker and enjoy trying to keep moving throughout the day when at work. I think it will become popular in the UK as well and companies here will be keen to reap the benefits of a healthier workforce.
Me at sit/stand desk with a Back App chair for when I want to sit. Trial a Back App chair here.