In recent years, sitting down at the office has taken a backseat to standing up. Here’s what your office can do to adjust to this enduring trend.
It’s been nearly a decade since standing desks took the modern office space by storm. Since 2010, many offices have transitioned away from sitting to a sit-stand combination thanks to adjustable desks.
Standing desks were originally heralded as the solution to the sitting epidemic that would kill us all. While studies show that standing desks don’t burn many calories, they’ve been proven to decrease discomfort in the shoulder, neck, and back, allowing employees to stay productive while on the clock.
Also, the options have expanded. There are standing desks with storage, treadmill desks and (soon) desks that optimize your sit/stand behavior.
Let’s take a look at the evolution of standing desks and how science has evolved along with it.
The Benefits of Standing Desks
First things first: There are some benefits to a standing desk — they just weren’t the weight-loss solution that many marketing teams latched onto.
A 2019 study looking at all the studies around standing desks and their effect on office worker behavior and health found that standing desks can be effective in changing behaviors but that the health outcomes were mild. Standing desks have been most beneficial in relief from physical discomforts, like back and shoulder pain.
In a second study, 65% of standing desk users reported being more productive with 47% reporting a decline in upper back, shoulder, and neck discomfort.
That being said, they aren’t a replacement for the American Cancer Society’s recommended 60 minutes of physical activity to offset the dangers of prolonged sitting. Getting out and staying active is still important, and no amount of time standing behind an adjustable desk is likely to change that.
It’s a big reason that the New York Times points out that standing desks are often overrated. Back pain aside, they’re not a great tool for improving cardiovascular health.
How Standing Desks Have Evolved
Standing desks have been gaining steam in the past several years. A 2017 SHRM study points out that the number of employers offering standing desks as an employee benefit grew from 13% in 2013 to 44% in 2017.
That’s a huge leap!
The trendiness has allowed moving desks to make their way into coworking spaces and open office concepts (despite the fact that open office layouts may be productivity killers), and there’s no shortage of variety and design around the idea that offices around the nation have fallen in love with adjustable height desk options.
From simple desktops to full-blown workstations and ergonomic platforms that fit with any ergonomic setup, the ideas around standing desks have become more complex as the market evolves.
And it is evolving. The evolution of height-adjustable workspaces is still on the rise. Standing desks with storage are making it easier for office workers to keep everything they need at their workstation. A 2017 market study predicted healthy growth through 2022, and that means more innovation as manufacturers establish product niches in the field.
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How to Respond to This Trend
Inside your office, it’s down to personal preference and personal pain points. Standing can do wonders for posture and the aches and pains that come from being seated for too long.
- Check with Your Team
Gather thoughts and opinions from your team. If standing desks are a hit, check to see if teams need standing desks with storage, motorized or electric height desks, or if a simple crank-based model would work.
- Let Your Employees Opt for a Standing Desk
Despite the data around productivity and health, there’s no point in pushing any kind of office equipment on someone who might not want it. That’s an unnecessary expense for a product that would ultimately be underused.
But the choice and attention to comfort and detail may matter more to employees than the actual desk itself. Options show employees that you’re taking their workplace health and ergonomic comfort seriously.
A little bit of thoughtfulness (and the option for change) can go a long way in a workplace relationship.
- Offer Other Options for Staying Active at Work
We mentioned earlier that there are more exotic options available, as well. You can find treadmill desks and bicycling desks out there, as well as other desks which promote physical activity.
Outside of standing desks, offering other options around fitness and physical activity might be a better fit for your office. Bringing in a yoga instructor or helping team members pay for a gym membership, or forming a fitness group are all ways that employers can contribute to employee health.
- More Ways to Use Them
There’s a definite case to be made for using a standing desk in your modern reception areas and touchdown spaces, especially if your customers need to fill out paperwork or use a public computer terminal temporarily. A standing desk can keep them from taking too long or getting too comfortable.