I’m really struck by Nilofer Merchant’s great HBR blog post, ‘Sitting is the smoking of our generation’. Her point is well made: obesity in the USA is now a far bigger killer than smoking, and we’re spending many more hours sitting than preceding generations.
Q. What’s the USA average number of hours spent sitting per day? A. 9.3 hours.
Crikey. That’s one heck of a lot of perching on the old posterior. And I’ll bet that over here in old Blighty we’re not that far, er, behind (oh dear, here we go). Think about it: once we’ve walked to the car/bus stop/station, we sit down. OK, in Greater London that’s if you’re lucky and either very late or very early. Then get to the desk. Sit down. Go to a meeting. Sit down. Back to the desk. Sit down. Slip out for a coffee with a colleague. And sit down (with a large latte and a muffin – yummy). Back to the desk. And – you get the idea. What about those of us who work at home a lot? Even more sitting, for hours and hours at a stretch (what stretch?!).
Has it always been thus? Well, no – not quite. I’m old enough to remember working life before computers on every desk. We walked around, took the stairs, went to see people more, but even so there was a fair bit of sitting on our bottle. Yet now we IM or email people – even if they’re mere yards away. Go back a generation or two and things were even more different: more work was manual.
So that’s it then: something else we can blame our jobs for. Or is it? Nilofer has a novel suggestion: walking meetings. Yes, that’s exactly what they are: instead of sitting at the desk/in the boardroom/in the café, people meet up and walk, and talk – at the same time. I really like this idea, and want to give it a try. Not sure how clients and contacts will respond though! If all else fails, I will take my cue from Nilofer if her walking meeting gets cancelled – walk anyway. Great for clearing the head.