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Mayo Endocrinologist James Levine M.D., Ph.D. Re-Engineers Salo Workspace to Increase Activity; 18 Participants Lose 156 Pounds While Productivity, Revenue Increase
Salo, LLC and its affiliates Oberon, LLC and NumberWorks, LLC, a leading professional staffing firm here, reported today that they have successfully completed a six-month study with Mayo Clinic endocrinologist James Levine, M.D., Ph.D. to measure the impact of increased activity in a real-life office on individual wellness. Salo was the first company to partner with Mayo Clinic to test Dr. Levine’s idea that a little movement throughout the day enhances weight loss and maintains health.
The Salo study was a part of ongoing research by Dr. Levine in environment-changing innovations. In this case, he helped to re-engineer Salo’s real-life office space to increase daily physical activity or NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) of the participants. The study was conducted with 18 Salo volunteers between September, 2007 and March, 2008. Volunteers were studied for weight loss and other changes.
“Salo offered the ideal setting for our Office of the Future,” Dr Levine said. “They are a group of very busy, active people who liked the idea of incorporating movement into their regular workplace activity. That’s exactly what they did. And their results were impressive,” he added.
The 18 individuals lost a total of 156 pounds, 143 of that in body fat. The average weight loss was 8.8 pounds and 90 percent of that was fat. Of the nine participants who expressed a specific desire to lose weight, they lost an average of 15.4 pounds. The decrease in total cholesterol was significant, with plasma triglycerides dropping on average of 37 percent.
Mayo Clinic adjusted Salo’s workspace to encourage study volunteers to move more during their regular workday activities:
• Walking tracks were introduced
• Salo volunteers were educated about and encouraged to have walking meetings
• Treadmill desks were incorporated into the workspace and select conference rooms
• Traditional phones were replaced with headsets
• Games were expanded in the workplace
• High tech activity monitors were provided to volunteers
• Nutritional and exercise advice was offered
Another key finding of the Salo study was that productivity was not lost due to the new environment. In fact, Salo’s revenue increased nearly 10 percent during the first three months of the study and the company recorded its highest-ever monthly revenue in January 2008, at the midpoint of the research.
In addition to the productivity gains, the Salo study confirms Dr. Levine’s earlier work which showed that people who incorporate moderate, regular movement into their everyday routines are more likely to achieve a healthy body weight than those who push through power work-outs or even structured exercise routines.
‘Walking at Work’ Fits Salo’s High Energy Culture
John Folkestad, Salo co-founder, said that the Mayo Clinic study was a perfect match with Salo’s culture. “We like things that are cutting edge. We’ve built our company around the idea of ‘working in a new way’ and this was a chance for us to try something really different,” he explained. “Now we walk instead of standing and stand when we would have been sitting. This has started to give us control over our waistlines and our time, which is a big plus for us,” Folkestad added.
Salo and its affiliates were founded to provide a new way of working for accountants, finance and human resource professionals who sought an alternative to the rigid and traditional corporate culture. Salo embraced the workplace shift and created a new staffing model that offered flexibility and balance. The company is on track to earn $56 million in revenue this year.
The company’s culture is team-oriented and fast paced. Salo’s operating philosophy is built on flexibility and balance—key drivers in the company’s ability to attract and retain 350+ top finance, accounting and human resource associates in a highly competitive market that is coping with a severe talent shortage.
Salo headquarters looks nothing like a typical corporate campus. The vast, warehouse-style space houses kidney shaped table-desks at one end and video games, Wii Fit, a pool table, Foosball and walkstations at the other. For Salo associates who need a break from the constant adrenaline rush that the environment delivers, the company has created a “meditation room,” complete with music, soft lighting and a massage chair. The concept of ‘walking while you work’ is now the daily mantra at Salo—even after the Mayo Clinic study has ended.
Amy Langer, Folkestad’s partner and Salo co-founder said “Our energy level is a big part of who we are as a company and a huge factor in our success. Even so, we have a hard time juggling our crazy work days and our kids’ activities with going to the gym at the end of the day. So our waistlines were suffering. When we learned that we could enhance our current activity by adding another dimension to our existing wellness programs, we were psyched. And we’ve lost the pounds to prove that this approach really works,” she added.