Today’s post comes from Wuyou Sui – more info can be found at the end of this post.
Recently, research into the topic of excessive sitting, or “sedentary behaviour”, has been making headlines. The risk for chronic diseases, such as diabetes and obesity, that comes with high levels of sitting is becoming more evident (1). Office workers represent a population that spend a significant amount of time in sedentary pursuits as a consequence of their occupation (2). As more research is being published on the topic, many workplaces are seeking non-sedentary alternatives and solutions to the traditional office environment to keep their employees as healthy and productive as possible. One such solution has been the implementation of activity-permissive workstations.
Activity-permissive, or alternative, workstations replace a worker’s traditional desk and are broadly categorized into either standing desks or dynamic workstations. Standing desks allow for a worker to stand while performing a task (e.g., typing, clerical work), and can be installed as additions to an existing workstation, or as height-adjustable replacement units (see Figure 1). Dynamic workstations are designed to allow for activity or movement while working, and include a variety of alternative workstations, such as: treadmill desks, cycling desks, and dynamic sitting desks (e.g., yoga ball). However, regardless of the kind and category of alternative workstation, they all boast a potential reduction in occupational sedentary behaviour (3,4)
Figure 1: Example of a height-adjustable workstation
Despite the potential benefits of using alternative workstations in the office, many employers and employees are hesitant to incorporate them, citing a fear of possible lost or impaired productivity/performance (5). However, some of these fears may not have as much basis in actual evidence.
A systematic review study by members of the Exercise and Health Psychology Lab at Western University looked at the effects of alternative workstations on workplace productivity and performance in 63 studies (6). The study, published in Applied Ergonomics, focused on outcomes of productivity (typing, work-related tasks, mouse tasks, and absenteeism) and performance-related outcomes (memory, executive function, mathematics, presenteeism, reading comprehension). The authors found that the vast majority of studies that examined standing desks found no effect on productivity or performance measures.
However, the same neutral effects on these outcomes could not be said about dynamic workstations, like treadmill desks and cycling desks, which tended to slightly detract from productivity. On the upside, dynamic workstations also tended to benefit workplace performance outcomes, such as memory and executive functioning. The authors speculate that this trade-off could be a consequence of the activity involved in using a dynamic workstation, which could help to promote cognition (7,8), but impact the fine motor skills needed for tasks like typing or mouse work. However, further research into the long-terms effects on workplace productivity and performance of both standing and dynamic workstations was recommended. Dynamic sitting and stretching interventions in particular had relatively little evidence available, as did outcomes of creativity and psychomotor functioning.
So, if you (or your employer) are looking for a way to promote health and wellness in the office through reducing the amount of time spent sedentary, without compromising productivity or performance: consider a standing desk. They are a height-adjustable, and perhaps health-adjustable, way to stay productive.
About the Author: Wuyou Sui is a PhD Candidate in the Exercise and Health Psychology Lab at Western University, Canada, under the supervision of Dr. Harry Prapavessis.
[…] article is re-posted from a Sedentary Behaviour Research Network blog post on 3rd July […]
People are always resistant to change. That is why they are hesitant to incorporate standing desks in modern workplaces. However, the many merits of standing desks make it an excellent choice for all the workplaces. It will surely reduce the occurrence of backaches and other health issues. Keep sharing such informative posts.
I think welcoming some standing work stations is a great way to trial and also prevent loss of productivity if that is a concern. Moving forward into 2020 standing and height adjustable desks are extremely popular.
Productivity is a hard thing to determine in any workplace, let alone to define for an academic study. So productivity was defined by the employer as the number of successful calls in one hour of work. By standing up, you cause the big muscles in your legs and back to contract, which leads to an increase in certain enzymes that break up fat in the blood stream. You don’t have to jog in place or do jumping jacks. Just stand. A very pleasant additional benefit is that standing up every 20 to 30 minutes also seems to prompt the body to burn calories, so you don’t gain as much weight from sitting at the office most of the day. visit https://caminteriors.com.au/