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15 Simple And Quick Office Stretches To Boost Work Efficiency

15 Simple And Quick Office Stretches To Boost Work Efficiency

If you work in an office, the chances are you’re spending a minimum of 8 hours sitting down – that’s 40 hours a week.

I mean, think about it. You might drive to work, sit down at your desk for at least 6 hours at work, drive home, and sit down to watch TV or read a book. Am I right?

And if you think that’s without it’s health risks, you’d be seriously mistaken. So next time you’re feeling a bit fidgety or you’re on your lunch break, try these 15 office stretching exercises. They’re simple, quick AND they’ll give you that energetic boost you need to increase your productivity – it’s a win-win situation!

1. Neck & Shoulders

Office Shoulder Stretch

    Hunching over your desk can strain the cervical spine and stiffen our shoulders. Try reaching your arms behind you, interlocking your fingers and lifting you arms. You should feel this stretch in your chest and shoulders.

    2. ‘Cow’ & ‘Cat’ Pose

    Cow and Cat Yoga Pose

      This is a yoga pose which aligns your spine and helps to improve extension and flexion in your back. Start on all fours (if you can find an empty space) and switch between arching your back like a cat and lifting your head and tailbone towards the ceiling.

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      3. Back of the Legs

      Office Leg Stretch

        If you don’t sit properly (and let’s be honest a lot of use don’t) you could be reducing the ability for blood to circulate properly, especially in your legs. Remaining seated, extend your legs and reach down towards your toes.

        4. Overhead Stretch

        Office Stretch

          This one should be easy, as it’s a natural stretch that we all do when we’re feeling a bit stiff and tired. Simply raise your arms above your head, interlock your fingers and push away from yourself. Feeling better yet?

          5. Wrist Stretch

          wriststretchdesk

            This one’s for those of you who spend all day typing! Simply stand up and place your wrists on the desk so they face away from you, and apply pressure until you feel the stretch. Hold for a few seconds, and then follow with some wrist circles.

            6. Thighs, Flexibility & Balance

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            xblack_dress_pant_yoga_pants_9.jpg.pagespeed.ic._TZX6z7B9x

              When you spend all day sitting down, you lose a lot of your mobility and balance. Using the desk for support, stand up and raise your leg behind you, grabbing hold of the ankle (or your shin if you cant quite reach). Lift the leg as high as you can keeping your knee bent at a right angle. Hold for a few seconds then repeat on the other leg.

              7. Single Leg Squat

              Single Leg Squat

                Start by standing tall on one leg with your other leg extended out in front of you. Slowly lower yourself into a seated squat position. Repeat and remember to swap sides!

                8. Low Lunges

                Low Lunge

                  You should feel this one in the front of your hip. Start on your knees, then bring one of your legs forward so your knee is at a right angle. Stretch your other leg back with your shin (or knee) on the floor, then lean forwards ever so slightly to feel the stretch (if you don’t already!).

                  9. Stress Ball Squeeze

                  Stress ball squeeze

                    An oldie, but a good way to improve productivity (and bust stress!). It’s also a good way to get movability your hands and forearms.

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                    10. Eagle Arm Twist

                    Office Back Stretches

                      Stay seated and extend your arms in front of you at shoulder level. Cross your right arm over your left, raise your forearms and twist your palms inwards. Hold, and then repeat with your left arm over your right.

                      11. Forward Bend

                      Forward bend

                        Stand several feet behind your chair. Raise both arms overheard and ‘hinge’ forward from your hips, keeping your back straight. Hold on to the back of the chair to keep steady for a few second, then rise back up to stand straight.

                        12. Standing Leg Raises

                        Leg Raise

                          Start by holding onto the back of your chair (be careful if it has wheels!). Lean forward slightly and stick your butt out and hold your tummy in while kicking alternate legs towards the ceiling and lowering back down again with control. This will not only help to strengthen the leg muscles (which waste away when sitting), but also help lengthen the back.

                          13. Seated Hip Stretch

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                          seated hip stretch

                            Sit towards the middle of your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Place one ankle on the opposite knee and sit tall. Maintaining a straight back, tilt forward at the waist until you feel the stretch.

                            14. Spinal Twist

                            Seated Twist

                              Keeping seated with your knees in line with one another, place your left hand on your right knee and twist your entire upper body to the right, looking behind your shoulder. Hold, then twist back and repeat on the other side. This keeps your spine flexible.

                              15. …Now You’re a Pro Do This!

                              Office Yoga

                                It’s okay, you don’t really have to do this – and quite frankly I don’t even know how that’s humanly possible! It does look impressive though…

                                Featured photo credit: Alisa Matthews via flickr.com

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                                The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

                                The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

                                It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

                                Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

                                “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

                                In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

                                New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

                                There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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                                So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

                                What is the productivity paradox?

                                There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

                                In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

                                He wrote in his conclusion:

                                “Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

                                Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

                                How do we measure productivity anyway?

                                And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

                                In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

                                But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

                                In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

                                But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

                                Possible causes of the productivity paradox

                                Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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                                • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
                                • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
                                • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
                                • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

                                There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

                                According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

                                Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

                                The paradox and the recession

                                The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

                                “Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

                                This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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                                According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

                                Looking forward

                                A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

                                “Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

                                Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

                                “Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

                                On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

                                Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

                                Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                                Reference

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