It’s been called The Big Slump. That 3pm energy dip some of us suffer every day. But there is help out there – forget sugary treats and cups of coffee, it’s all about creating good energy to see you through the day.
Nine out of ten office workers admit to suffering with an energy slump, according to YouGov research for Lucozade Revive.
In fact, a quarter admitted to falling asleep on the job because of it. So you’re not alone if you’ve had an afternoon snooze in the toilet. These energy dips are estimated to equate to an average of 24 unproductive days a year each.
Wednesday is apparently the day when most workers experience afternoon fatigue, with the average slump lasting 47 minutes. So what can we do about it?
Former professional tennis player and personal trainer Oliver Gray now coaches staff in energy management and his clients include eBay, Lloyds and clothing brand White Stuff. ‘People don’t realise there is a reason they have an energy slump at 3pm,’ he says, ‘and that there are ways to avoid it.’
Gray’s approach is to change the bad habits in seven areas (mind management, nutrition, sleep, exercise, technology use, re-energising and work-life balance). ‘There’s a lot more to energy than fitness and nutrition,’ he says. ‘By making simple changes to your daily habits in these seven key areas, you can see big improvements to your energy, creativity and productivity.’
Gray explains that sleep is the foundation. ‘We spend roughly a third of our lives in bed,’ he says. ‘Get this right and you’re on top of a third of your life and this makes the other two thirds easier. Sleep helps to improve your focus, memory and problem solving, all of which are key parts of your working day.’
Also, being mindful throughout your day can make a difference to the quality of your work. ‘Research shows that you are up to 40 per cent less productive when you keep swapping between tasks rather than doing one thing at a time,’ says Gray. ‘And take the time to plan your day. If your energy levels are high in the morning, schedule important meetings or projects for that time and leave the mundane emails until later.’
Nutrition also plays a big part. Bad breakfast choices, caffeine, and carb-heavy lunches can affect energy levels in the afternoon. ‘The benefits of healthy eating and drinking can mean improved mental focus and performance, and improved immune system, meaning fewer days off sick,’ says Gray.
He also claims we’re a lazy bunch. ‘Our research shows the average office worker is highly inactive,’ says Gray. ‘Of the 168 hours in the week, they spend a total of 143 hours a week doing little or no movement. Movement equals energy – so the more we move, the more energised we feel.’
Of those hours in the week, research found the average office worker spends 40 of them in front of a computer and seven watching TV. ‘We spend so much time on our phone, iPad and laptop surfing the internet and on social media, and this excessive technology use can leave us wired up and burned out,’ he adds.
Gray says it’s employers that have foremost responsibility for healthy practices and to educate staff. He urges firms to provide nutritionally balanced canteens, get rid of vending machines, make staff use the stairs instead of lifts and even swap coffee and biscuits in meetings for herbal teas and fruit.
‘Companies can encourage cycle-to-work schemes and arrange office challenges or discounts at fitness centres as incentives,’ says Gray.
He adds that there has been a massive shift in terms of health and energy in the past five years. ‘People have been under so much stress and pressure and it’s harder to deal with challenges at work if your energy levels aren’t good,’ he says.
‘People now realise they need to look after themselves. When companies take a proactive approach to staff health and energy it’s a win-win situation for both the individual and the company. The individual benefits with great health and energy in and out of work and the company benefits with low absence and happier, more engaged, more productive staff.’
As published in Metro, 8th October 2013