Although BeUpstanding was initially designed to target Australian based workplaces, the program is available globally. To date, we have had over 160 teams from 35 countries outside of Australia sign up to the program. Most of the teams are from the United Kingdom and the United States, however, we also have teams from the Czech Republic, Malaysia and Switzerland taking part in our program. As part of the sign-up process, users are asked what they are aiming to achieve from the program. In previous blog articles (Part 1 & Part 2), we have examined what our Australian teams responded to this question. In this article, Bachelor of Health Sciences placement student Rou Jing Tham dives into the data from our international organisations.
Data used and key findings: When users sign up to the BeUpstanding program, one of the questions that they were asked is ‘What are you hoping to achieve by your work team taking part in BeUpstanding?’ We explored the responses that we have received so far from our international teams and identified four main reasons: (1) to improve the working atmosphere; (2) to improve health and wellbeing; (3) to increase awareness; and, (4) to change the working environment.
Create a culture of wellness – United States
Improving the working atmosphere and having ‘healthy and happy employees’ was one of the most common aims that our international users identified that they wanted to achieve by participating in the BeUpstanding program. This is consistent with research that has shown that workplace sit less / move more interventions, like BeUpstanding, have shown benefits for indicators of cardio-metabolic health and job satisfaction. Other users wanted to “promote a more active working environment”. In an active workplace, employees can feel more productive and motivated. The BeUpstanding program is able to assist with this through raising awareness and creating a supportive culture for change so that a dynamic workplace is the new norm. Users also wanted to learn about how to connect and engage workers during the remote working conditions imposed by the lockdowns due to COVID-19.
To get the workforce motivated to move more and be healthy – United Kingdom
Improving the health and wellbeing of their workforce was one of the top aims of our Australian-based teams, and a similar finding was observed in our international teams. Some of the physical health concerns surrounding employees that the organisations are looking forward to resolve are ‘obesity, blood circulation, and bad back’.
In this blog, we have previously discussed how physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour could lead to heart problems like cardiovascular diseases. Prolonged periods of sedentary behaviours and inactivity have also been shown to be linked to poor mental wellbeing, including sleep disturbance, mood disturbance and stress. Thus, it is unsurprising that many of the users were signing up to BeUpstanding to try and help address these physical and mental wellbeing issues. For example, many organisations were striving to create a workplace that is ‘healthy and stressless’ both physically and mentally for their employees. Similar to our Australian teams, users who signed up also hoped that the program would help their employees ‘cope better with workloads’ through decreasing the employees’ stress levels.
Raise awareness, improve culture and help facilitate behaviour change– United Kingdom
Despite it being something adults, on average, spend over half their day doing, many people are not aware of just how much they sit or the impacts of prolonged periods of sedentary time on their health and wellbeing. Behavioural change starts with awareness. Raising awareness is one of the pillars of the BeUpstanding program, and thus it is unsurprising that this was also one of the common aims for our international teams signing up to the program. Users also identified the importance of raising awareness on sitting less and moving more during remote working conditions. With many meetings moved online, there is less opportunity for the incidental activities (such as going to the meeting room) that may occur during a work day in the office. Therefore, many of the international organisations identified wanting to ‘increase awareness to reduce time being inactive when working from home’ through the support and resources providing through BeUpstanding.
Provide ideas for employees to sit less and move more while working from home– United States
The physical work environment, whether it be the office, the home, or somewhere else, can have a big influence on behaviour. The aim for some of our international users was to ‘implement strategies to bring more physical activities into their offices’. It was identified that a potential barrier to being able to make changes was ‘not having the suitable equipment’. Environmental supports, such as a sit-stand desk, can help the worker achieve large reductions in sedentary time as well as provide benefits for their heart health, without detrimentally impacting on productivity. However, beneficial change can be achieved without a desk, with the BeUpstanding program designed to provide no cost/low cost approaches to support teams. BeUpstanding uses a participatory approach, where teams collectively decide what strategies they are going to do to sit less and move more.
Conclusion: Overall, it seems that no matter where our teams were located in the world, they were signing up to BeUpstanding for very similar reasons – to raise awareness and to help improve the health and wellbeing of their work team through behaviour change. We look forward to exploring how our international teams go with running the program and seeing if they were able to achieve their aims!