Standing Up for Health and Productivity
We’re told sitting is the new smoking. And with Australian workers spending an average of 22 hours per week sitting, and 10% of people reporting back problems, it’s no wonder the chair has been touted a silent killer. What’s more, sedentary behaviour is now being linked to type 2 diabetes, obesity and a shorter lifespan.
Poor posture-related injuries are nothing new and businesses already spend money on ergonomics to improve workplace health and reduce injuries.
So, can sit-stand desks provide the solution for more movement and improved health and wellbeing in the workplace?
"Links between standing desks and higher productivity"
Research on the benefits is ongoing, but early studies suggest these workstations are a promising alternative, offering substantial health benefits to modern office workers.
There are also links between standing desks and higher productivity, with users reported to be 46 percent more productive than those seated. Other research by Mayo Clinic endocrinologist, James Levine, found that in a controlled diet study, those who moved 2.25 hours more during an average work day gained less weight than those more sedentary.
But before you overhaul your office, here are a few suggestions on how to ensure your roll-out doesn’t fall over:
Successful change adoption comes when people understand what’s in it for them. Are you boosting productivity? Is it part of your wellbeing program? Spell out the benefits before rolling out the furniture.
- Be clear on the ‘why’ and ‘how’.
Also, give clear instructions on how to use the desk as incorrect use could lead to frustration or worse, injury. Provide visual guides on the correct posture when using the standing desks. Train users on adjusting and, if necessary, using the peripherals like monitors and other hardware. Make the initial experience as smooth as possible.
As with any new equipment, anticipate maintenance issues. Your employees can’t use items that don’t work, and they’ll stop using it altogether if it takes too long to fix any problems.
Patience is also needed as workers transition to their new desks. Researchers from the University of Sydney reported it took around three months for study participants to become entirely comfortable with the sit-stand desks. Once they got used to it, participants were standing for close to half their entire working day—the result you want.
- Be ready for teething problems.
Help your employees by arming them with ways to remind themselves to stand up. Set up reminders to pop up on workers screens or teach employees to use their mobile devices and fitness wearable's to prompt them to stand. If they don’t adjust the desk, they might as well have a traditional one.
- Be proactive in encouraging use.
Standing for extended periods can also bring some health issues like muscle fatigue that cause back pain. Don’t just rely on standing at your desk. Move regularly and stretch. Put up posters of desk stretches, encourage walking or standing meetings. Why not supply headsets so phone calls can be taken walking or standing? You can also recommend the use of stairs rather than lifts.
- Be a movement-conscious office.
Bodies are built for movement. You can improve workplace health and productivity by responding to this basic human need with the help of less desk time, more movement and standing desks.