A recent survey found that 60 percent of employers currently provide or subsidize standing desks at their offices, making standing desks the fastest growing trend in the realm of wellness benefits. So, are standing desks just a passing fad, or should you consider getting one yourself? Also called sit-stand or adjustable desks, these desks allow you to stand while working and come with some very real benefits.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the advantages of standing desks, some possible disadvantages, how to use them properly, and how to get the most out of your standing desk experience.
Benefits of a Standing Desk
So, why are so many office spaces implementing standing desks? Even though these devices are relatively new, there is already a wealth of research demonstrating the significant health benefits of standing desks. When used regularly, standing desks can:
1. Promote a Healthier Lifestyle
Sitting for an eight-hour period every day is not conducive to an active lifestyle. One study confirmed that desk jobs can lead to certain health problems. Specifically, the results suggest that sitting at a desk to work for more than five hours can lead to an increased waistline and an increased risk of heart disease.
The researcher recommends spending seven hours a day on your feet or walking seven to eight miles in order to avoid these risks. While it’s clear that sitting all day is not a healthy choice, researchers are still trying to determine just how beneficial being on your feet during the workday can be.
Additionally, standing desks encourage workers to be more active. When workers alternate from a sitting desk to a standing desk and back throughout the day, they are more likely to perform little stretches or walks to improve their overall daily activity. While these activities might seem small and insignificant, they accumulate throughout the day and contribute to the overall health of the worker.
2. Provide More Comfort
Standing while you work may sound uncomfortable, but research shows comfort is one of the primary advantages of standing desks. The ergonomic benefits of standing desks can mean less pain and more comfort at work. One study found that implementing sit-stand devices at work led to a 54 percent reduction in upper back and neck pain for employees after just four weeks.
Lower back pain tends to be a serious problem for many workers. Research suggests that a sit-stand workstation can reduce chronic lower back pain. One study focused on overweight employees found that alternating between sitting and standing decreased lower back pain by nearly 32 percent.
Standing desks may be more comfortable because they help your body maintain a more natural posture. Working at a computer while sitting at a desk can often lead to a hunched posture that can cause musculoskeletal pain. Standing upright, on the other hand, can help improve posture and take pressure off of areas like your back and neck.
3. Improve Your Mood and Energy
Improving your health and comfort aren’t the only ways standing desks can improve your life at work. They can also provide a boost in mood and energy. Sitting still can contribute to feeling tired at work, a problem over two-thirds of employees say they experience.
Standing rather than sitting can encourage you to stay more alert. In one study of overweight workers, participants reported much lower fatigue scores when they were standing and sitting compared to just sitting.
Feeling more energized can also have a positive effect on your mood. In one study, participants whose time sitting at work was reduced through the use of standing desks reported improved mood states. Feeling more awake and having a more positive outlook at work may be the most significant benefit of standing desks to some workers.
4. Encourage Higher Productivity Levels
Improved energy and mood can lead to another great potential benefit of standing desks: increased productivity. When you alternate between a standing and a sitting desk, you feel more energized — when you have more energy, you get more work done — and when you’re more productive, you become a more valuable asset to your company.
Some research has shown a direct link between standing at work and productivity. A 2018 study found that employees who stood more at work experienced an improvement in work engagement and job performance. This increase in productivity can lead to more completed projects, faster turnaround times, improved collaboration, increased profits and much more.
However, increased productivity doesn’t only benefit employers. Employees are more likely to feel fulfilled in their work when they’re proud of the job they’ve done.
5. Help You Have More Dynamic Meetings
One possible advantage of adjustable desks that may not be as obvious is that you can have more dynamic meetings. There is certainly a time and a place for seated meetings around a conference table. However, at some meetings, you may prefer a more active feel and approach.
For instance, if you want to have a brainstorming session, you can achieve a more energetic, collaborative feel by having colleagues gather around a standing desk. You may also enjoy this setup when you want to work on a project with someone’s oversight.
Since standing desks can encourage greater productivity and energy in your office, even if you choose to be seated for meetings, you can expect employees to bring more energy and creativity to the table.
6. Make Your Office More Attractive to Top Performers
As standing desks are becoming increasingly popular in office spaces, some job hunters may see an office that only has traditional sitting desks as behind the times. When you’re trying to appeal to top performers in your industry, you need to demonstrate that your company is eager to embrace innovation and provide a healthy environment for its employees.
Perks like standing desks can be an important selling point for employees who have multiple job offers from other companies in the industry. Especially if your business is in the tech industry, you need to pay attention to the latest trends.
Disadvantages of a Standing Desk
As much as research has shown sit-stand desks to be beneficial, you may have heard some people criticize these desks for a few different reasons. Here are three potential disadvantages to consider if you’re thinking of getting a standing desk for your own office or outfitting an entire office space with standing desks:
1. It Requires a Period of Adjustment
One of the disadvantages of using a standing desk if you’re used to sitting is that it may feel strange at first. This means you can expect to go through an adjustment period. In particular, using a keyboard and a mouse from a standing position will take some getting used to. This disadvantage is only temporary, of course, since you’ll adapt to your new setup and may prefer it over sitting.
2. It May Not Be an Option for Some Workers
Workers who have physical limitations may not be able to stand at all or stand long enough to benefit from a standing desk. To have an accessible work environment for all people, regardless of their physical abilities, you’ll need to ensure everyone has the option to sit. Even employees who have no restrictions to keep them from standing will still benefit from being able to sit part of the time.
3. Standing Too Much Can Cause Health Problems
Just as sitting all day can cause health problems, being on your feet nonstop can cause some problems, too. This means standing desks are not meant to be used all the time. Standing still can lead to vascular problems and discomfort. Research suggests you’re better off incorporating more movement into your workday by alternating between sitting and standing or adding in stretches to avoid becoming stiff.
Best Ways to Use a Standing Desk
Now that you know all the benefits of a standing desk and some potential problems, let’s talk about how to use a standing desk to maximize the benefits and avoid any problems. We have six tips to help you get the most out of your standing desk:
1. Ease Into It
If you’ve been used to sitting all day at work and now you’re going to try standing, make the transition smoother by easing into it. Making a dramatic change can cause your body some discomfort that may cause you to give up on trying to stand at work. Instead, start by standing for short intervals throughout the day, and then begin to stand for longer periods of time as you feel comfortable. You should eventually settle on a routine that works best for you.
2. Wear Supportive Shoes
You may be used to choosing your work shoes based more on their fashion appeal than their function. If you want to stand comfortably and avoid sore feet and lower back strain, though, you’ll need to pay more attention to how supportive your shoes are. Generally, the best shoe to wear while using a standing desk is one with plenty of cushion and arch support. You may be able to add gel inserts to some of your shoes to make them more supportive and comfortable. Avoid high heels, since they distribute your weight unevenly.
3. Alternate Between Sitting and Standing
Alternating between sitting and standing is the best way to maintain your comfort and health at your desk. Once you’re used to working from a standing position, try switching from one position to the other. Ultimately, you may want to listen to your body and follow your own rhythms. If your feet feel like they need a break, then sit. When you start to feel sluggish or stiff, stand up. Find what works best for you.
4. Stretch and Move Throughout the Day
If you find you prefer standing for most of your workday, make sure you move around every so often to help with cardiovascular health. You can take a short break to do some stretches, or you can do small movements, such as heel rises or walking in place, right there at your desk while continuing to work. Staying active like this will help you maximize the benefits of being more active at work.
5. Maintain Good Posture
Sitting and working on a computer often lends itself to poor posture, but that doesn’t mean your posture will automatically be perfect when you stand. Work to maintain an upright posture where your body is well-aligned. To take advantage of standing desk ergonomics, the top of your monitor should be at eye level. This will likely mean you’ll need to adjust your setup to fit your body. Settling for a setup that causes you to have bad posture can negate some of the benefits you’ll enjoy with a standing desk.
6. Find Accessories to Enhance Comfort
Finally, if you don’t feel entirely comfortable working at a standing desk, you can find a whole host of accessories to help. For example, an anti-fatigue mat is a great option to make standing more comfortable. These mats are designed to provide support. You can also find an ergonomic keyboard or mouse to make working from a standing position more comfortable for your wrists. These devices can take some getting used to, though.
Get High-Quality Standing Desks From Arnold’s Office Furniture
If you’re interested in adding a standing desk to your office or outfitting your whole workplace with standing desks, Arnold’s Office Furniture has what you need. With over 90 years in the furniture business and a commitment to carrying exciting new products, Arnold’s is a trusted source for some of the nation’s largest Fortune 500 companies.
Rob has more than 25 years of experience in the office furniture business. He has used his extensive knowledge in his role as Senior Vice President to ensure our office furniture meets the needs of the modern corporate office environment and he regularly lends his expertise to various articles posted on the Arnold’s Office Furniture blog. Learn more about Rob!