Assessing Hydration Status in the Workplace – Hypothesis

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Assessing Hydration Status in the Workplace – Hypothesis

In its ground-breaking study assessing the effects of mild dehydration on driving performance during a prolonged and monotonous driving task; Loughborough University proved that driver dehydration caused drivers to commit double the amount of driver errors than drivers properly hydrated. Even more startling was the parallel they drew between dehydrated drivers and drunk or sleep-deprived drivers; highlighting, yet again, the importance of good hydration for optimal performance.

While the aforementioned study examined the link between driving and dehydration, the importance of drinking water at work and remaining properly hydrated throughout the day remains universal across all industry; alarmingly however, many people report to work already dehydrated, and do not drink enough water during the day to replenish lost fluid. To further examine this phenomenon, Loughborough University ran another study to assess start and end of shift hydration levels across a number of different work environments.

Analysis of the study is covered in this three-part blog series and can be split into hypothesis, methodology and results.


Previous studies examining hydration levels at work focused on workers performing physical activities in hot and humid environments. These were extreme conditions and in most cases not applicable to people working in more temperate surroundings as is the case with office workers where air conditioning and heating ensures a comfortable climate and where a large portion of the work day is spent sitting behind a desk.

Where hydration levels in the workplace have been examined, it came to light that many workers began their work day already dehydrated.

Factors that influenced whether or not employees drank sufficient amounts of water at work included access to beverages and also access to toilet facilities – examples cited included drivers and teachers whose easy access to both are limited, which helps explain why employee dehydration is often exacerbated in certain professions.

Well documented is the fact that regularly not consuming enough water can lead to many health issues long-term, but of particular pertinence in the work environment is how dehydration affects cognitive and mental performance.

In the workplace, a reduction in cognitive performance may reduce quality of work, productivity and decision making, thereby making workers ineffectual.

All past studies have elicited dehydration through strenuous exercise, or a combination of exercise and heat; stressors which are not part of the normal workday for most. If one considers that the vast majority of workers begin their day already dehydrated and remain so for most of the day, it becomes apparent why routine or voluntary dehydration in the workplace required more research.

The primary aim of this study then was to examine the hydration status of different work groups at the beginning and end of an eight hour shift. The secondary aim was to evaluate the effect various factors (e.g. access to water at work, regular breaks, access to toilet facilities etc.) had on water intake.

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