Slumped in a chair, staring at a screen all day, eating rubbish. Not just your average couch potato, but almost every worker in IT. It's time to get up and move, says Colin Beveridge.
So the latest government proclamation wants us all to do more exercise as our individual contribution to reducing the burden on the National Health Service.
Fair game, I suppose, it is a classic win-win situation because we would all gain from the new keep fit regime. But, as with most government initiatives, it appears that this is yet another half-baked scheme that hasn’t been completely thought through.
It’s half-baked because it simply focuses on physical well-being rather than taking the holistic view of personal health, which naturally extends into our emotional and psychological fitness.
This isn’t rocket science. Even the Romans recognised the benefits of a healthy mind in a healthy body and expressed the sentiment clearly in the phrase Mens sana in corpore sano. It must have some eternal significance if we can still remember these words at a distance of millennia.
So it’s obvious then that if we really want to keep ourselves, and our businesses, fit that we need to be doing more than regular morning sessions of physical jerks. Especially in the IT department, where many of us expend tremendous amounts of nervous energy, day in day out.
I honestly believe that we should put a government health warning on the contracts of all IT staff: Danger! IT can damage your health!
I am quite surprised that the corporate lawyers and insurers haven’t already thought about mandating such a warning because our working lifestyles are far from healthy. Have you ever stopped to consider just how many serious health issues face IT workers?
The list really is frightening.
For a start, we are a largely sedentary profession, spending much of our time at desks and workstations. And when we do break free from our keyboard shackles, our major non-desk time seems to be spent in meeting rooms with other similarly placed refugees.
At this rate it won’t be too long before IT goes completely pear-shaped, physically speaking and not just metaphorically, unless we get to grips properly with the double-whammy risks of prolonged inactivity and nervous exhaustion. We owe it to ourselves, especially when it seems that our IT careers are getting shorter and shorter with each passing year.
Perhaps the first stage is to do a new kind of IT satisfaction survey? By that I don’t mean the usual survey of how satisfied our customers are with the IT service. What I am suggesting is that we survey how satisfied are our IT people with their lifestyle.
The results might well surprise and shock many businesses, but that doesn’t mean that we should shy from the exercise. It sounds like an ideal opportunity for an intranet survey.
So, before we get our PT kit on to keep Mr Blair happy, let’s find out how healthy and happy we are in our work. And, perhaps most importantly, let’s find out too what we can do to eliminate some of the frustrations and obstacles that cause us dis-ease.
Colin Beveridge is an independent consultant and leading commentator on technology management issues. He can be contacted at [email protected]