Everybody knows that standing desks are growing more and more trendy every day. It turns out that there are actual health reasons to switch to a standing desk or work station. Those who are physically able should start standing for at least two hours of their work day and should work their way toward four.
Science says stand up
There are lots of scientific studies that prove that the less time you spend sitting around, the better your overall health will be.
Standing desks reduce the risk of obesity.
With all other metrics being the same: health, diet, calorie intake, etc., people who stood up and moved around regularly were less likely to gain weight than those who spend their days sitting and staying (mostly) still. It would be easy to chalk this up to people working out more often than others, except one study which excluded people who lacked regular workout routines.
Reduced risk of obesity reduces risk of other diseases.
With the reduced risk of obesity comes a reduced risk of other diseases like metabolic and cardiac disorders and even, in some cases, cancer. A study in 2011 found that people who spent most of their days sitting down were more likely to develop a variety of cancers, including breast, colon, lung, prostate and even endometrial cancer.
Reduced risk of disease and obesity increases a person’s life expectancy.
If you’re less likely to become obese, and you are less likely to develop diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, etc. It stands to reason that you are likely to live longer if you are standing and moving around more often than you would if you simply sat still for most of the time.
Standing alone won’t do it
Of while simply standing up is better for you than sitting down, you need to do more than just stand at your desk. You also need to move around.
That’s easier said than done, especially if you work in a busy office. It is recommended to take short breaks to walk over to a coworker and talk to them instead of just sending an email, instant message or text. Unfortunately, that increases interruptions in work flow which can reduce overall company productivity.
Some people incorporate simple movements while they work at a standing desk. They walk in place, do knee bends, etc. There is a limit, however, to the amount of moving a person can do in an office space–not just because it might be frowned upon by management but because the person might be shy about others watching them move.
Remote work might be the answer
It might also be worth exploring the idea of allowing employees to spend more of their time working remotely. With the cloud and other collaboration tools, working from home isn’t nearly as isolating or difficult to incorporate as it used to be.
Working from home would allow employees to stand and move around as much as they like (however they like) without worrying about being distracted or judged.
It is also worth noting that going straight from spending all of a work day sitting to at least half of a work day standing is a difficult thing for many employees to do. It is better to encourage employees to make the transition slowly. Many employers all over the planet are switching to adjustable height desks that allow their employees to stand and sit at will. Convertible desks allow employees to stand a little bit at a time each hour as they work to build up their stamina and muscles. Allowing employees to work remotely can help in this arena as well.
Standing desks and standing while working are not a fad. Science has proven that it is healthier for the people doing the work and for a company’s productivity levels. What you need to ask yourself now isn’t whether or not your employees should ditch their chairs at all. The question now is: where should all of this standing work be done?