To Stand or Not to Stand?

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We’ve all seen the pictures of the google headquarters, ball pools, bean bags, chutes and all manner of quirky workplace additions.  For many however not much has changed by way of the traditional office since the addition of the Personal Computer thirty years ago.   However, with recent studies showing up to one in every four employees complaining of lower back pain and with significant losses in productivity attributed to related ailments, many employers wondering if it’s not time to rethink the office setup.  In the last few years it seems that every other week there is some article about the stand-up desk.  Speedy decided to look into this and see if it might perhaps be the next wave of workplace innovation. 

 

1.      Sitting at a desk may be worse for you than smoking

Now this fact does sound a tad dramatic but it doesn’t mean that it’s completely wrong.  It doesn’t really work in the way that every time you take a seat is akin puffing on a marlboro light, but studies have shown increased time sitting down raise your risk factors of everything from cardiovascular disease to diabetes.  Whether this is a product of sitting in and of itself or the sedentary lifestyle associated is hard to determine. 

 

2.     Exercise doesn’t offset the risks involved of sitting but standing for 10 mins can

Studies seem to disagree on this fact, with some advocating exercise whilst others standing.  Whether or not it’s entirely accurate has yet to be proved.  But what is beyond dispute is that sitting all day is not the answer. 

 

3.     Cognitive benefits of standing

Even if one wishes to take issue with the health benefits of standing there are also cognitive benefits involved.  Studies have shown increased productivity from workers when a standing desk is made available.  Cast you mind, lecturers, teachers even The House of Commons, there’s a certain energy that just doesn’t come from being seated. 

 

4.     Tasks better done standing

It seems that activities requiring more explosive energy are tailor made for standing.  Phone calls, brainstorming and holding meetings all tend to work better. 

 

5.     Is everything better upright?

Despite what manufacturers of gadgety desks claim standing isn’t the solution to everything.  Some things are just better done seated.  These are usually activities that requiring close attention to detail and deep, undisturbed thought.  Reviewing documents, writing proposals and other related activities are still best achieved in the more traditional office setting. 

 

6.     So what’s the answer?

What’s the answer then to whether you should sit or stand?  The optimum ratio to answer this question seems to be 20:8:2.  Twenty minutes of standing, eight minutes of sitting and two minutes of mobile exercise (such as walking).  This ratio apparently provides the optimum in health and productivity benefits for a happy and energised workforce. 

 

7.      The bicycle seat

How do you stand, sit and move about all in a days’ work then?  Well it seems there might be an answer in the form of the bicycle seat chair.  Keeping your back in alignment, taking the stress of your feet and providing a hybrid of standing and sitting this new innovation for the office is just getting started but already many people are hailing it as the answer to this workplace conundrum   

 

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