Half of British workers would be more active at work if they knew about the effects on long-term health. Australian experiment shows initiatives can reduce sitting by 30+ minutes a day. Nearly a quarter of workers do not have space to accommodate movement.

New research commissioned by Lendlease and LCR, joint developers of International Quarter London, has found a sedentary working culture is still rife in Britain, despite widely documented advice about the long-term health consequences of inactivity in the workplace.

The new study of 2,000 British employees conducted by YouGov, found that awareness of the health implications of prolonged inactivity and desire for change among workers, is yet to translate into meaningful long-term behavioural change.

With half of workers (50 per cent) revealing they would be more active at work if they were informed that it would improve their long-term health, the findings suggest the problem lies in a combination of cultural and environmental factors, which together are acting as barriers to increased activity.

The research has revealed three in five (60 per cent) employees would not feel comfortable keeping active by standing, leaning against a wall or pacing for a few minutes during a meeting that lasted longer than an hour; and when asked why, the majority (83 per cent) said they were deterred in case management or clients perceived this as “strange”.

Compounding the issue, Britain’s offices are not equipped for workers to easily incorporate activity into their working day. Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of employees said their workplace did not include space to accommodate movement, and a similar proportion (23 per cent) pointed to a lack of furniture or fixtures that allow employees to stand comfortably or lean during meetings.

The study suggests information on its own is not enough to enact change, and the key to increasing activity is through creating office environments that encourage movement and integrating workplace initiatives that are backed by senior management.

Aligned to these findings, Lendlease recently conducted field research in Australia, in conjunction with Baker IDI Diabetes & Heart Institute and University of Queensland, to trial intervention strategies to reduce workplace inactivity – with significantly positive results. Experimenting with management-led initiatives and activity trackers, the study reported an average decrease in the time sitting in a work day by over half an hour.

Lendlease has collated the findings from both studies and its experience from around the world into a new report - Fit for purpose: steps to tackling Britain’s sedentary working culture. The report seeks to address the key barriers to increasing workplace activity and help UK businesses nurture healthier, happier and more productive working environments.

Lendlease’s global workplace experience is being brought to Britain for the first time at International Quarter London. In partnership with LCR, the £2.4 billion development will deliver the capital’s first entire business district that places employee health and wellbeing at its core.

Jonathan Emery, European Managing Director, Property at Lendlease said: “We know from our clients, and our own business, that innovative workplaces have the potential to influence productivity, engagement and motivate workforces. That’s why we’re committed to investing in research like this to inform our design innovations and help us to continue creating healthier working environments.

“Lendlease has pioneered some of the world’s best places to work, and we’re bringing that experience to Britain for the first time at International Quarter London. Working with our tenants we’re focussed on creating real cultural shifts in the way they work to optimise employee wellbeing and as a result drive better performance. A move to International Quarter London offers businesses the opportunity to press reset. We believe creating a new workplace that places focus on employee wellbeing from the outset can be the catalyst needed to implement wider organisational change long-term.”