Top tech firms have been going nuts for the standing desk. Some have even added step machines and ellipticals claiming it boosts productivity and well being.
While many of the claims are sales hype and bluster at the heart of the buzz is a real issue. The issue of being sedentary in an office chair for long periods of time is a big problem. Sitting in an office chair for extended periods has short term and long term health and well being risks, such as; Deep vein thrombus, weight and fitness issues, posture problems.
I personally have on going back issues, which are significantly aggravated by sitting for long periods on a chair at my desk. It is a real problem for me as I am often working for in excess of 12+ hours a day minimum. I used to think the solution was a better chair. However, I have slowly graduated from partially broken second hand office I got for free when we were a true ground level startup to my current $650 DX Racer chair. The irony is my back was probably happier when I have the worst chair, because it was so uncomfortable on my butt I used to have to get up and move around a little. Now i'm sitting on the DX Racer and I can stay on it literally without getting up for 16 hours or more. Consequently, pre Christmas 2014 I thought I'd buy into the standing office and bought all new office equipment.
Everyone hated it. Hated it so much I had to get rid of it because productivity droppped so much. In hind sight what was probably going on was everyone was sore from improved posture. Since then I've had to take some 4 weeks of work from back pain and spent a couple thousand going to physio therapist and then Osteopath to just be able to walk with out serious pain. Consequently now I have some relief I have gone out and bought a bar table and modified it to work better socially and height wise for our needs. I'm not forcing any one to use it, but I have made it our meeting and social place to encourage its use. I have a communal laptop setup and running on it for all to use.
Success for me. I now move from my desk to the stand up desk on and off during the day and this is keep my spin health. Additionally, I think I will by an elliptical, not for use behind a desk but to get some movement for staff and me during our long days of coding during winter when its to cold to swim (yes we have a pool it's the Gold Coast, Silicon Valley).
So I'm surfing twitter last night and I see not only is it better for your posture and health to stand up for periods of your working day, but research is starting to appear it could also help your cognition and productivity.
From sciencebulletin.org the journal of IIE Transactions on Occupational Ergonomics and Human Factors.
“We hope this work will show companies that although there might be some costs involved in providing stand-capable workstations, increased employee productivity over time will more than offset these initial expenses,” said Mark Benden, Ph.D., C.P.E., associate professor at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, director of the Texas A&M Ergonomics Center and member of the Center for Remote Health Technologies and Systems, and one of the authors of the study. (Sciencebulletinorg, 2016)
In part it also supported what had happened at our offices.
“One interesting result of the study is that the productivity differences between the stand-capable and seated groups were not as large during the first month,” said Gregory Garrett, M.A., a public health doctoral student and a lead author of the study. “Starting with the second month, we began to see larger increases in productivity with the stand-capable groups as they became habituated to their standing desks.” (Sciencebulletinorg, 2016)
Furthermore they summarize:
“This research is a breakthrough in measuring productivity impacts of office workers, as this population of call center workers was directly tied to very objective data on their productivity,” Benden said. “Now that we have this type of finding, we will search for more creative ways to find objective productivity measures for other types of office workers in both traditional seated environments and the newer stand-capable environments.” (Sciencebulletinorg, 2016)
I find this all very interesting as we love to bio hack our performance here. It also reminds me of seeing engineers standing to operate their equipment in older factories, when operators required more thinking to do their jobs.
Sciencebulletinorg. (2016, 27 May 2016). Boosting productivity at work may be simple: Stand up. [Weblog]. Retrieved 28 May 2016, from http://sciencebulletin.org/archives/1544.html