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Could This Exercise Device Leave Managers Backpedaling?

Office workers of the future might feel a little bit like Lance Armstrong without the yellow jersey.

Welcome to the age of the portable pedal machine, a small, bike-like device that can be placed underneath employees' desks. Now employees will be able to pedal while working on spreadsheets, making sales calls and instant messaging co-workers. In the process, they'll be doing their part to battle the obesity epidemic and to lower insurance rates.

The machines are already being field tested on employees. According to a Fox News article:
Most importantly, [study author Lucas] Carr said, people liked the machines. Almost everyone said they would use them if their employer offered; they also overwhelmingly reported that the machines were quiet and didn't distract them from their work.

Hmm. Have the researchers have ever tried riding a stationary bike while simultaneously trying to get some work done? I have, and it doesn't always work very well. If you're concentrating on pedaling, you might find yourself re-reading what you've just read. If you're concentrating on reading, you might find you need to pick up the pace because your pedaling is slowing down along with your heart rate. It's very hard for us human beings to concentrate in equal measure on two completely different and incredibly focused tasks. Will companies that implement these devices find themselves pedaling toward lower overall productivity levels?

And how will managers handle workers who don't want to sweat? Courtney the administrative assistant spent 45 doing her hair this morning and there's no way in hell she's going to break a sweat on the sweet polyester spandex dress she just bought at Dress Barn. Besides, she jogs four days a week after work, and she's frankly insulted that the boss is telling her she needs even more exercise. Are you saying I look fat? Now the boss is sweating, because work is where he goes to avoid this conversation.

Then there are the employees who will grumble that pedaling is not in their job description. We've all known these people.

Let's just say managers could be doing some backpedaling of their own when implementing these portable pedal machines. The intent is good, but the implementation could be a disaster if it's not executed well. I'll be interested to see how this goes.

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