For this post, we wanted to focus on some practical ways to incorporate more standing into our daily work schedules. Also, this MUST be at a reasonable cost.
Why This is Important
Sitting for prolonged periods of time is now cemented in all of our minds as a risky strategy to live by. Research has linked sedentary professions or jobs that involve sitting/low levels of energy expenditure to increased rates of chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. Luckily enough, today there are numerous options that we can incorporate into our workday that would reduce the duration of sitting. Some would suggest that this is a behavioural countermeasure, where we can simply make the decision that every hour we take a break from sitting. For some professions, this would be possible. But, this is hardly the case for all professions, especially for those positions where time is billable to the client. In these situations, in my opinion, it is hardly possible to stay on a daily regimen that promotes activity during the day. Previous clients that I have worked had barely enough time during their day for an Ergonomics ‘Lunch and Learn’ (note: I had instructions to adhere to the strict 1-hour time limit – which I nailed), let alone to stop working every hour to incorporate activity. With this perspective, it is no wonder why sit-stand workstations are so attractive for so many professions: it is an efficiency game changer.
Standing workstations can be expensive, especially when thinking of purchasing one for every employee. Obviously, this can make sit-stand desks out of reach for a lot of employers. So, we must ask ourselves if there is a reasonable compromise available that would reduce sedentary positions during the workday without too much of an investment.
The Solution is Right In Front of Us!
This is where ‘hot’ desks come into play. Personally, I have just heard of this term. I had previously heard of the term ‘hotel’ as an easy method for out-of-office employees to plug into when visiting headquarters. And, I suppose a ‘hot’ desk is just an evolution of this, except for sit-stand workstations. A ‘hot’ desk is a designated sit-stand desk that is available for all staff to use. It’s basically a communal sit-stand desk.
These desks should be:
- Located in an easy to access area
- Be fully equipped so staff would only be required to sign-in to the terminal or dock their laptops.
‘Hot’ desks are optimally designed for open-concept offices since they can easily be located in a central area. Further, staff can receive a gentle reminder to use the ‘hot’ desk with this preferred location. In the article referenced below, the researchers implemented 4 ‘hot desks’/sit-stand desks in an open concept office. They found that staff stood between 20 minutes to 3 hours per day. Of course, this is promising information.
How to Determine if “Hot Desks” Are Right For Your Company
In my opinion, only fully committed individuals or individuals with a chronic condition (ie: chronic lower back pain) will ever follow through with sit-stand desks beyond the first 1-2 month implementation period. Using a deliberate approach in determining if your staff would use ‘hot’ desks would go a long way. The worst thing that could be done is purchasing sit-stand desks that just collect dust in the corner. Based off of my many years of experience incorporating sit-stand desks into companies and witnessing their successes, I’ve developed a list for you to reference. Note: this is also available as a ‘cheat sheet’ for you to download below!
How to get staff to use (and like) sit-stand desks so you don’t have to waste time and money.
- Survey staff prior to implementation to determine their engagement to use ‘hot’ sit-stand desks.
- Analyze the responses:
- Anyone who fully bought in and responded with a resounding ‘yes’ should be considered the leaders.
- If there are enough people who are ‘on the fence’, consider implementing an education session with information pertaining to the value of incorporating standing into their workday as well as strategies on how they could use the ‘hot’ desks.
- If you determine that there are enough people who show interest in the ‘hot’ desks, investigate if a local vendor would lend you 1-2 sit-stand desks for trial. Typically trial periods of at least 2 weeks up to 1 month should give you sufficient data to determine your next steps.
- If there is a lot of interest during this ‘trial’ period, try using a waiting list or sign-up list.
- If there is a good response, consider purchasing a small amount of ‘hot’ desks. The amount purchased should be based on the number of staff in the area as well as how much/often these desks are being used throughout the day. If there is a waiting list or sign-up sheet, this generally means that uptake is quite high and you may consider purchasing the same amount of desks in the trial or perhaps 1-2 extra. The sit-stand desks should be available for staff to use, otherwise staff can lose interest if these desks always seem to be occupied.
- Lastly, if this is your only source of ‘wellness’ in your office, you may need to place awareness posters or other campaigns to demonstrate their usefulness and to remind staff that they are available to use.
Gilson, N., Suppini, A., Ryde, G., Brown, H. & Brown, W. (2012). Does the use of standing ‘hot’ desks change sedentary work time in an open plan office? Prevention. 54, 65-67