Office Jobs Are Worse For Your Health Than You Think

Office jobs come with a load of emotional and physical health risks that go well beyond neck or eye strain. While perhaps not as risky as being a pro wrestler or a skydiving instructor, office jobs can still jeopardize our wellness in ways that can be long-lasting. Here are some lesser-known ways that office jobs can be hazardous to your health.

While you'd think it'd be more common amongst physically demanding jobs, office workers are among the most prone to accidental falls, according to Corporate Wellness Magazine. Freshly mopped floors, reaching for high items, or tripping over cluttered floors are just a few of the culprits responsible for office falls, with sprains and strains of the wrists or ankles being among some of the most frequent injuries.

Additionally, a sedentary lifestyle can lead to premature death. According to Insider, 86% of adults in the U.S. sit for the duration of their workday, and unfortunately, exercise outside of work is still not enough to offset the health risks of such a lifestyle. Overall, office workers are more susceptible to health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and muscular-skeletal disorders.

Office jobs can compromise air quality and sleep

Not only that, but the air conditioning system in your office can pollute the air with product chemicals, mold, and potentially toxic bacteria — making the recycled air you're breathing far dirtier than the air outdoors, which can negatively impact the lungs (via Insider). But the AC isn't the only item in the office that can affect lung health. Toner particles in the air from laser printers can be inhaled, potentially leading to lung disease.

Experts at Insider also report that office workers who stay inside all day may experience a decrease in sleep quality. A 2019 scientific review published in Somnologie found that exposure to natural sunlight leads to an "increase [in] sleep duration," and this is harder to obtain when a person is cooped up inside an office all day.

But office jobs can also affect our mental health as much as they can affect our physical health. In fact, Insider reports that long commutes, difficult bosses, and forced motivational staff meetings can all increase rates of depression in office workers.

How working in an office can impact your mental health

Boredom, in particular, can pose a significant risk to our health and longevity. According to Medical Xpress, researchers from the University College London issued a survey to over 7,000 civil servants aged 35 through 55 in regards to how often they experienced boredom. Following up with the same participants 21 years later, researchers found that those with high levels of boredom were "37% more likely to be dead".

But it's not just what goes on in the office that can be affecting your wellbeing — in some cases, it can be the office itself. While open floor plans in an office may be helpful in attempting to build community, they can also be the cause of illness (via Insider). Not only that, but a 2016 study conducted by the British Psychological Society found that shared desks and open floor plans were largely disliked and made introverted employees uncomfortable.

While the nature of an office job may not be entirely within our control, keeping our health in mind can help improve our well-being. According to the South Dakota Department of Health, stretching between three and five times a day, eating lunch outdoors, and investing in ergonomic equipment like office chairs that adequately support posture, are just a few of many small changes you can make that can have a big impact on your health.