Physical activity and sedentary behaviour in a flexible office-based workplace: Employee perceptions and priorities for change.

Research paper by Heidi M HM Olsen, Wendy J WJ Brown, Tracy T Kolbe-Alexander, Nicola W NW Burton

Indexed on: 19 Apr '18Published on: 19 Apr '18Published in: Health promotion journal of Australia : official journal of Australian Association of Health Promotion Professionals


Many Australian employees now regularly work from home in some capacity. This new way of working has not been widely studied in relation to the potential implications for employees' health-related behaviour or workplace health promotion. The aim of this study was to explore office-based employees' perceptions of the impact of flexible work on physical activity and sedentary behaviour; and preferences for associated interventions. Three focus groups were conducted with office-based employees (n=28) six months after the introduction of a flexible work policy. A semi structured interview format with open ended questions was used with summary statements to check understanding. Sessions were audiotaped and dominant themes were identified. Findings on intervention preferences were interpreted using a social cognitive framework. An overview of results was provided to a group of managers (n=9) for comment. Employees reported that physical activity was not impacted, but sedentary behaviour had increased, with flexible work. Intervention preferences focussed on occupational sedentary behaviour, self-regulation, prompts and social connections, and not the physical work environment. Managers agreed with employees' preferences and also wanted interventions to be sustainable. Self-directed interventions with social components and targeting occupational sedentary behaviour were more acceptable than physical activity interventions in this flexible workplace. Health promotion for workplaces with flexible work practices may benefit from prioritising strategies that promote self-regulation and social connections rather than being linked to the physical worksite. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.