One of aims is to provide you with useful information to positively affect your working life. Recently, our readers told us that they are enjoying reading about sit-stand workstations. So, this post is going to be about some recent research. What areas of Ergonomics are you interested in? Let us know and we will incorporate that into our next blog posts!
Why Is This Important.
There seems to be an endless stream of information about the positive effects of standing more and sitting less in the office environment. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: To be considered a viable option, sit-stand workstations must show that they can improve worker discomfort symptoms while at the same time not negatively affecting worker productivity.
For the most part, let’s say 99%, there has been conclusive evidence that sit-stand desks both reduce an employee’s discomfort levels and either maintain or enhance their productivity. That’s what is going to provide the evidence needed for employers to have the confidence to go out and purchase these for staff. Another factor that is a big trend is overall worker compliance to use the sit-stand desks after the first 6 weeks or so after purchase. It is unfortunately a known fact that after the newness factor of these desks diminish, people’s use of them, specifically going into a standing position, also diminishes. So, from an employer’s perspective it can be a relative gamble to outfit an entire office with costly sit-stand desks only to have a few staff use them.
To make an informed decision, employers require information showing conclusive evidence on their risks and benefits before jumping in and buying them. The main concern that I come across is that employers feel that if they were to purchase one desk for one employee, then all staff would ask for one. For many employers that is simply too much of a cost.Today, sit-stand desks can cost anywhere between $500-2000. This would be a significant cost of employers had to outfit an entire office. For an office with 21 employees, considering a $1,ooo price tag/desk, it would cost more than $20,000 for desks alone. This does not include add ons like monitor stands/arms or anti-fatigue matting that enhance the standing experience. When you factor in those costs it could be as much as $30,000 to outfit an entire office. and that would be too much of a cost.
The good news is if employers really want to provide the benefits of standing to their staff there are options. One solution that I really like is the idea of ‘Hot Desks‘. Hot Desks are cost effective because they are a reasonable compromise. Instead of outfitting an entire office with sit-stand desks, a small number are purchased and put into a central location where staff are given the option to use them. With this strategy, Hot Desks must be incredibly easy to plug into and staff should be trained on their benefits and encouraged to use them. If not, they will likely just be collecting dust in a corner – something that I have see MANY times!
Every week we are compiling more and more recent evidence-based research on this topic and we will eventually be able to incorporate it in a handbook available for our VIPs to download. Like the sounds of this? Then, let us know! The aim of this handbook would be to provide the incredibly useful information to guide the purchase, implementation and use of sit-stand desks.
What You Can Implement Today.
Research shows that workers choose to stand for between 20-30% of their day when provided with a sit-stand workstation. However in real-life situations (outside of the lab), research has found that as little as one in ten workers actually use their sit-stand workstations on a daily basis.
Thinking of buying a sit-stand workstation? Here are some facts that can add some value so you can make a more informed decision:
- To date, there are no clear cut guidelines on effective sit-stand rotation schedules. But, we do know the following:
- A sit-stand ratio of 1:1 involves too many changes between sitting and standing positions. This rotation schedule seems to negatively affect productivity even with the increased benefits of the postural enhancements taken into account.
- Employee discomfort increases if the standing portion of the sit-stand cycle is too long.
- Since there is no overall acceptable guideline on optimal rotation schedules, the responsibility shifts to the employees to manage this. So, employers must encourage their employees to experiment with various sit-stand time ratios to find their optimal routine.
Karakolis, T. & Callaghan, J. (2014). The impact of sit-stand office workstations on worker discomfort and productivity: A review. Applied Ergonomics, 45: 799-806.