Virgin Media stands up for health in groundbreaking standing experiment

23rd April 2015

  • Top exercise Professor conducts world’s longest ever sit-stand study at Virgin Media offices
  • 24 Sheffield customer service agents will ditch their chairs for at least two hours each day
  • Physical health and psychological wellbeing measurements to inform future ways of working

The longest scientific experiment of its kind has begun today at Virgin Media’s Sheffield contact centre. John Buckley, Professor of Applied Exercise Science at the University of Chester, is leading a research team to uncover the impact of a less sedentary working environment on health, wellbeing and productivity. 

Two groups of contact centre agents at the Sheffield centre – where 900 people are employed by Virgin Media – have volunteered to use adjustable sit-stand desks and stay on their feet for a minimum of two hours each day. The first group will use the adjustable height desks for six months, and the second group (the cross-over control group) for the next six months.

The move has been triggered by reports that highlight the increasingly sedentary lifestyles led by UK office workers. The evidence1 suggests that sitting for long periods of time can result in increased risks of serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular illnesses.

Previous short-term studies have calculated that a person could burn around 30,000 extra calories per year, which equates to half a stone of fat (8lbs), simply by standing for two to three hours a day at work.

Professor Buckley’s team will perform ongoing tests to determine the health and productivity benefits and the results will inform future ways of working and the physical workplace environment within Virgin Media.

John Buckley, Professor of Applied Exercise Science for the University of Chester, explained: “The simple act of standing for even as little as two hours per day can increase muscle activity to have a significant impact on health and wellbeing. This unprecedented study with Virgin Media will allow us gain a more comprehensive understanding of the benefits working on your feet can have on health and performance.”

Maurice Daw, Chief People Officer for Virgin Media, commented: “We are always looking for new ways to improve our people's health and wellbeing. The results of previous studies are impressive and we are looking forward to working with the University of Chester to explore the longer term benefits achieved from this way of working.”

Provided by Posturite, the desks are adjustable, making it possible to sit or stand throughout the day. In parallel with the Sheffield experiment, Virgin Media is also making a number of sit-stand desk units available at various sites across the country for employees to trial.

Notes to editors

About Virgin Media

Virgin Media offers four multi award-winning services across the UK and Ireland: broadband, TV, mobile phone and landline.

The company’s dedicated, ultrafast network delivers the fastest widely available broadband speeds to homes and businesses. And we’re expanding this through our £3bn Project Lightning programme, which will reach 17 million premises.

Our interactive TV service brings live programmes, thousands of hours of on-demand programming and the best apps and games in a set-top box, as well as on-the-go for tablets and smartphones.

We launched the world’s first virtual mobile network, offering fantastic value and services to customers. We are also one of the largest fixed-line home phone providers in the UK and Ireland.

Through Virgin Media Business we support entrepreneurs, businesses and the public sector, delivering the fastest widely available broadband speeds and tailor-made services.

Virgin Media is part of Liberty Global, the world’s largest international cable company. Together Virgin Media and Liberty Global serve 27 million customers across 14 countries.

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