Can a sit-stand desk deliver return on investment?
Sit-stand desks have become the mainstay of the quintessentially hip office –because like the workspace industry at large, office furniture is in the midst of its flexible makeover.
They are the status symbol of Silicon Valley with everyone from Google to Facebook to Venture Capitalists now offering sit-stand desks as part of their employee wellness programmes.
Big Corporates are jumping on the bandwagon as thousands of sit-stand desks are being installed in the UK offices of Centrica, Change.org and the Bank of England. Even the NHS is getting involved by urging office workers in England to stand up for their health.
Now every self-respecting small to mid-size business that claims to have employee wellbeing at the top of their workspace agenda is following suit.
It's fair to say demand for flexible furniture is rocketing as wellbeing tops the workplace agenda, but why?
1) Enhanced awareness of health benefits of sit stand desks is fuelling the trend for companies to make sit-stand desks part of their wellbeing agenda
2) Research suggests that investment in a sit-stand desk could help to reduce the number of people suffering from pain and reduce the amount of absenteeism and presenteeism in offices
3) The majority of research studies suggest that users of stand capable desks are more productive in the office environment
4) For the office worker of today it provides a choice to work in the way that they find most effective and to maintain a healthy lifestyle whilst doing so
5) It is now a lot cheaper to buy a sit-stand desk than it was 10 years ago when the Daily Mail ran their “Sitting at a desk all day is as bad as smoking” headline
What does the data say?
31 million UK workdays were lost in 2013 due to musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders, which is unsurprising as MSK disorders are more likely to recur and develop into long-term conditions. Research has shown that electric height-adjustable desks lead to reduced complaints of musculoskeletal discomfort by an average 62% amongst computer workers.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently performed a study on the effectiveness of sit-stand workstations Employees standing for one additional hour daily (four increments of 15 minutes) reported the following results: 87% felt more energised and comfortable at work; 75% felt healthier overall; 62% felt happier and 33% felt less stressed.
Sit-stand desks can also have a huge effect on organisation’s productivity levels. One study find that those with a sit-stand desk had a 75% decrease in the amount of workbreaks compared to their colleagues.
One call-centre based study suggested users of stand-capable desks were 45% more productive on a daily basis compared to their seated colleagues. Further, productivity of the stand-capable desk users significantly increased over time, from ∼23% in the 1st month to ∼53% over the next 6 months.
The advice from ergonomic consultants is simple: sit a little, stand a little and repeat.
But here's the secret - desks you can stand at are not a new modern phenomenon.
They have been used by some of the greatest thinkers of our time:
Leonardo Da Vince, Michelangelo, Ernest Hemingway, Charles Dickens, Napoleon Bonaparte and Winston Churchill were all fans …. Thomas Jefferson even designed his own standing desk. You can see it at Monticello.
So do sit-stand desks deliver return on investment? The research shows that they can, and with prices starting from just £248 from Hampshire Office Furniture, many companies see it as a quick win for the wellbeing agenda. That said, standing all day can be just as damaging as sitting and sit-stand desks are not a silver bullet to solve the pressing work issues your company may need to solve.
In office space design, Spectrum Workplace's in-house design team is seeing companies focusing more on incorporating more sit-stand products together in different spaces within the workplace - using both their office furniture and their workspace as levers to meet a variety of organisational effectiveness and strategic goals.
If you'd like to know more about sit-stand desks or how to use office space as a lever to meet your strategic goals you can:
Dainoff, Center for Ergonomic Research, The Effect of Ergonomic Work-tools on Productivity In Today’s Automated Workstation Design