Standing desks, and their more sophisticated development the sit-stand desk, are the latest growing fashion in office furniture — and, more importantly, in workplace practice. Around 90% of office workers in Scandinavia spend at least part of their working day standing, and the trend is gradually growing in the UK. So what’s behind this?
The Perils of Sitting
Standing desks aren’t new. They were common in the Victorian era, and they’ve had advocates such as Churchill, but sitting at desks has been the norm for generations.
However, recent research reported by the Guardian suggests that today’s sedentary lifestyle has serious health implications, and that “sitting for more than three hours per day cuts about two years off your life expectancy.” It can also increase the risk of diseases such as diabetes, strokes and cancer.
The Telegraph agrees, highlighting guidelines from Public Health England recommending that office workers should spend a minimum of two hours a day on their feet. Besides suggesting strategies that encourage employees to walk around the workplace, the guidelines also strongly recommend the use of sit-stand desks.
If you buy a sit stand desk at Back 2, a leading London supplier, you have a choice of well-designed but simpler models or Back2’s own state-of-the-art sit-stand desk.
Just to make things complicated, though, standing still for extended periods isn’t good for you either. Besides, there are some tasks, such as typing, which are better done sitting. Sit-stand desks provide the perfect compromise between the importance of spending part of the day standing and the need to sit some of the time.
You could provide two desks for each worker, of course, but sit-stand desks, which can be adjusted to whichever height they need at the time, are far more efficient. More basic models use crank-handles or counterweights to change the height, but modern sit-stand desks operate electrically at the touch of a button.
So Why Aren’t We All Using Them?
Take-up of sit-stand desks has been fairly slow in the UK, and Workplace Insight highlights and dismisses various of the common objections, from worker resistance to alleged health and safety issues, which are mainly imagined or easily overcome.
One of the more difficult objections to overcome is that of expense. However, prices are falling as the technology becomes more common, and sit-stand desks pay for themselves in various ways. Besides a healthier workforce meaning lower sickness, there’s evidence that standing increases efficiency, creativity and positive attitude. The question really is, can you afford not to invest in sit-stand desks?
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