10 GOOD REASONS FOR A HEIGHT-ADJUSTABLE DESK
Why stand-up desks are the office workstations of the future
Height-adjustable desks are becoming increasingly popular in the office. And rightly so: height-adjustable desks allow for an uncomplicated change of working posture, from sitting to standing and back again. The investment in height-adjustable desks pays off as it can avoid preventable back complaints, increases performance, concentration and motivation of employees, and minimizes downtime. The smow furnishing experts have assembled essentials to consider when selecting in a sit-stand desk, and why they are so enormously advantageous for employees and employers.
By nature, the human body functions best when it moves; however, especially in everyday office life, stationary sitting is the predominant position and this all too often leads to stiffening or joint wear and tear. It has long been established that well-adapted, ergonomic office chairs are essential in everyday office life; however, it is also important to regularly stand up in the course of the working day, including for prolonged periods. This does not mean that you should only stand, not only is that not necessarily healthy, but moreover it is not always possible. Much more, frequent changes of position is recommended, changes from which the body and brain profit. The occasional change of position and posture is essential for a lively mind. Some experts recommend sitting for 60 % of the working time, 30 % standing and actively moving during the remaining 10 % of the working day; others propose 50:25:25. Regardless of your preferred option it is clear that a healthy combination of sitting, standing and active moving should be encouraged and undertaken.
The LASI (Länderschutz für Arbeitsschutz und Sicherheitstechnik) manual “Ergonomic design of continuous standing work" (LASI (ed.), LV 50, March 2009) lists numerous design measures to make the workplace more ergonomic and health-promoting, including, for example, changing tasks, alternating between standing and sitting work, active break times, appropriate work postures, and therefore options not only in the employees control but which also underscore the responsibility of the employer. Standing-sitting desks have an extremely positive effect on workplace ergonomics - and that without the need for major alterations. Following a quick transition period, you and your employees will realise the many advantages a height-adjustable desk can bring in so many areas.
If a desk cannot be height-adjusted, and the work process is extremely monotonous, a number of problems can arise:
If a desk cannot be height-adjusted, and the work process is extremely monotonous, a number of problems can arise:
OVERVIEW: HAZARDS OF MONOTONE SEATED WORK
- Dissatisfaction and irritability
- Tensions and chronic bad posture
- Declining quality of work and concentration → inefficiency
- Motivation problems due to monotonous physical stress
- Circulation problems
10 Arguments for a Sit-to-Stand Work Environment
A height-adjustable desk ...
1. ... reduces the risk of heart disease
While it is understood that regular exercise can compensate for sitting during the working day, if you sit for many hours every day, over time sport alone will not be able to fully compensate. Physical activity in the workplace is essential. If you stand up while working you are doing your health a service: studies have shown that prolonged sitting has a negative effect on the cardiovascular system. In particular the so-called HDL level (high density lipoproteins) decreases when sitting, and the risk of heart attack consequently increases. The reason is that HDL transports excess cholesterol to the liver in order to keep the blood vessels free; however, if this function is restricted because the productivity of the HDL level has been reduced, it can lead to calcification of the arteries. In the worst case, this can lead to deadly diseases such as heart attacks or strokes, which are still among the most frequent causes of death in Europe. Height-adjustable desks and thus a healthy HDL level through sufficient movement during the day can thereby positively influence your health.
2. ... promotes healthy muscles
Regular standing and exercise are important; however, standing up all day alone is not a solution. Much more it is essential that the regeneration capabilities of the spine remain activated. This is the case when the spine and muscles regularly move and thus stay supple. It is therefore important to regularly change position, and for all to stand, because when you are sitting, the muscle activity in your legs is virtually zero. Over prolonged periods this can result in muscle breakdown and negative consequences for the musculoskeletal system. In the worst case scenario this can result in bone degeneration, something that is very difficult to reverse. In addition, the back and neck muscles relax significantly when you regularly switch between a sitting and standing position.
3. ... protects spine, ankles, and knees
As far as the spine, ankles, and knees are concerned, a height-adjustable desk is a contemporary and ergonomic solution: breaking the length of the sitting period not only keeps body and mind busy over the entire working day - and beyond - it also keeps you healthier in the long term, as the spine, ankles, and knees are significantly protected. Complications of the back, neck, and shoulder area as well as in the joints are quickly reduced with a height adjustable desk. Acute back problems, which are becoming increasingly common at ever younger ages, can be caused by stress, mental problems or, very often, the wrong posture. Stand-up working solutions can help!
4. ... promotes up to 20 % more mental activity
In the working day there are regularly situations in which important decisions have to be made quickly. Ideally, the mind should be alert and focused to react quickly. According to experts, when standing up human brain activity increases by up to 20 % resulting in significantly faster, higher-quality decision-making processes, even at the end of a long, tiring working day. A stand-up desk is therefore of great advantage if you have to work in a very concentrated fashion for many hours. In addition, employees generally become fitter, more open-minded, and more flexible through a height-adjustable desk.
5. ... prevents chronic illness
Both in terms of preventing back problems and cardiovascular disease, height-adjustable desks can be very positive. In addition, they can also promote long-term health: studies have shown that regular long periods of sitting restrict the body's ability to break down glucose with the help of insulin: when muscles are not used regularly the muscle cells become insensitive to insulin, resulting in less sugar utilisation and thus less energy. Such a lack of exercise can therefore be a contributing factor in the development of diseases such as Type 2 diabetes. If you switch to a sit-stand desk, you boost energy production and glucose breakdown.
6. ... protects against obesity
While sitting, the human body consumes only about 1 kcal per minute, while in parallel, leg activity decreases and the blood levels deteriorate temporarily. In contrast, a stroll during a lunch break consumes at least three times as many calories as when sitting, which is why occasional standing and exercise phases are strongly recommended. For this, stand-sit desks are perfect: they also make a valuable contribution to health beyond the break, and can prevent you from becoming overweight while at the same time working more efficiently.
7. ... creates time
Increased efficiency through highly productive work saves time in the long term. It has been estimated that height-adjustable desks increase efficiency by at least 10 %, resulting in a good deal of extra time in the year. In addition, absenteeism through visits to the doctor due to conditions caused by permanent sitting is reduced, resulting in renewed working hours. This means that investing in a stand-up desk is not only an investment in the health of the employee, but also in efficiency of the company!
8. ... saves money
Where employees can fully concentrate on their work, and are not constantly distracted by fatigue, neck tension or back pain, they will work more efficiently. Both the employees and the company benefit from this: according to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering in Stuttgart, German companies incur an annual loss of 35 million Euros due to absenteeism and reduced productivity caused by back problems alone. Reduced absenteeism on account of better health thus also serves the profitability of a company. Therefore investing in height-adjustable desks saves money in the long term.
9. ... enables meaningful discussions
A study by behavioural researchers at the University of Missouri indicates that people communicate significantly better when standing than when sitting. At standing meetings, the voice is fuller, more dynamic and thus more convincing, which significantly increases the overall performance of meetings or telephone calls. The impact of standing up, moving, and smiling - whether in a meeting with business partners, talking to customers or engaging with colleagues - should never be underestimated.
10. ... motivates
Fewer external complications leads to less stress, frustration and chronic pain, which in turn creates more motivation in the workplace. If an employee feels healthier and fitter, if work progresses quicker and they achieve what they set out to do, then they also enjoy working more and can create more ideas and concepts and implement them with increased motivation. More exercise through standing up regularly leads to more employee satisfaction and efficiency.
FOR WHICH TASKS IS A STANDING HEIGHT DESK APPROPRIATE?
At a standing workstation you can perform more tasks than you might expect: in fact, most of the work in the office is as easy to do at a high desk as it is at a low desk. However, it is advisable to get used to the change between sitting and standing while working. In the beginning activities such as telephone calls, research, mailing or brainstorming can be done while standing, so that gradually a change of habit can occur and the switch between standing and sitting work soon becomes habitual. Once you get used to working standing, it will soon be quite normal to complete all working tasks both seated and standing.
ELECTRONIC HEIGHT-ADJUSTABLE DESKS
Electronic height-adjustable desks are particularly suitable when quick and uncomplicated switching between a low and a high desk is required. On the one hand, manual cranking does not always prove to be ergonomic, on the other hand, manual adjustment is time consuming, especially when carried out several times a day. In addition, the motivation for a change decreases where this is associated with effort. The height adjustment of the desk height should proceed quietly, easily and as quickly as possible: in this respect, electronic height-adjustable desks are considered the most useful and ergonomic.
ALTERNATIVE: THE LECTEREN
If the conversion to a height-adjustable desk is not possible, an ergonomic lectern can be used as an alternative to allow for an appropriate level of change between sitting and standing. In addition it allows for the necessary physiological and psychological variety: changing the position not only keeps the muscles supple but the brain on the go – a, literal, new perspective on a task may well lead to new ideas or the long-sought solution to a problem. Breaking from the monotony in front of the screen by the occasional change to a standing workstation stimulates the circulation and helps you concentrate on a task over a longer duration. So it is not only useful in ergonomic terms to occasionally stand.
Basic rules when establishing a standing workplace
Standing desks should always be tailored to the respective employee in terms of height and requirements. This is the only way to ensure that the change of position brings an actual benefit. A few points to note:
- Ensure an upright posture
- Upper arms should hang vertically downwards
- Right angle between upper and lower arm
- Head and eye tilt should add up to about 30 to 35°