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How to Make the Best Use of Standing Desks

Oct. 24, 2017

Ensure that the standing desks in your facility have a positive impact for occupants.

Workers are taking a stand in today’s offices, as the emergence of the standing desk has changed how many approach daily work. As research continues to suggest that a highly sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to one’s health, many organizations have turned to standing desks as a simple way to incorporate wellness into the workplace.

But if you are going to implement standing desks into your facility, make sure they are used properly to justify their cost and improve workplace morale and wellness. Here are some tips to get the most out of your standing desks.

Where to Incorporate Standing Desks

Standing desks can be expensive, so make sure that they will be used properly when you bring them into a workplace. First, you should gauge the overall interest in these types of desks. While studies typically report a general improvement in health and productivity with standing desks, one of the main draws for workers is that they provide a comfortable alternative to sitting. Find out which employees stand to gain from this workstyle.

While they are a popular concept in the modern office, it is important to be judicious when determining how many or where you should implement standing desks. Building occupants might be drawn to the idea of standing at their desk, but you want to make sure that they will actually use the option if it is afforded to them.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia identified that office workers at the university wanted to have access to sit-stand desks, but if they are in shared areas, workers tended not to use them to preserve privacy. Thus, when addressing where you want to implement standing desks, be sure to identify more private offices and workers who have expressed a clear need for one first. From there, you can decide where and who needs a standing desk most.

The Sit-Stand Option

If you are going to implement standing desks throughout your facility, sit-stand desks are the best option. For employees that have only had sitting desks, switching to a stand-only desk will likely be too much of a physical change for an entire day of work.

Encourage workers who get sit-stand desks for the first time to incrementally transition to standing at work. Alternating between settings can help occupants adjust for comfort throughout the daily grind and avoid the sudden shift of eight hours of sitting to eight hours of standing. You might also find that giving occupants the ability to change the setting might also help them become more productive while improving wellness.

Research that appeared in Applied Ergonomics found that in most cases, implementing sit-stand desks in workstations led to lower levels of body discomfort, and it found that productivity improved or remained the same in most instances. Providing the opportunity to change settings contributes to the sit-stand desk’s ability to reduce pain and discomfort and possibly improve productivity.

Anti-Fatigue Mats

For some switching to a standing desk, the transition from sedentary work might be difficult because of foot, back or any other type of pain that might arise from the sudden change in workstyle. Providing some support for employees’ feet can help avoid the negative effects too much standing can have.

One National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health study notes that workers should refrain from standing more than two hours straight or more than 30% of the workday unless using an intervention like an anti-fatigue mat, stool or supportive footwear.

Ensuring that workers with a standing desk also have a thick anti-fatigue mat can help reduce the stresses that standing for long periods of time throughout the day can have on employees. Pairing this with the option to change their desks from sitting to standing positions can help employees stand for longer periods of time, thereby justifying the costs associated with these types of desks.

Screen Positioning

It is also important to communicate with your occupants that if they use standing desks, they need to position screens in a manner that will not undo the ultimate goal of positive posture from standing.

The Mayo Clinic suggests that employees with standing desks place the monitor about an arm’s length away from and directly in front of themselves. The top of the screen should be at or just below eye level. For those working with two monitors, it is important to adjust based on how the individual prioritizes the screens.

“If you have dual monitors, the location of the monitors depends on the percentage of time you spend on each monitor and the type of work being done,” Mayo Clinic notes. “If you use both monitors equally, place them close together on an angle in front of you with their edges touching. If you use one monitor more than 80% of the time, place that monitor directly in front of you and the other monitor off to the side.”

Comfort is one of the best benefits of standing desks, so make sure occupants use them correctly. The last thing you want to do after outfitting your facility with standing desks is for them to go unused because they aren’t working as intended.

Justin Feit [email protected] is Associate Editor of BUILDINGS.

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