office sit standOffice work tends to be a sedentary activity. Today, more than 86% of office tenants are sitting at work all day, every day. When coupled with the time spent sitting in traffic or in front of the TV, that number jumps to more than 13 hours each day. And a recent Ergotron study found that nearly 70% of workers hate the number of hours they spend sitting; they’re looking for ways to build fitness – or at least some motion – into their days.

Studies have also shown that even when tenants or occupants work out an average of 30 minutes a day, it isn’t enough to combat the negative health effects of remaining sedentary for the majority of the day. In fact, the American Medical Association recently enacted policy recommending that businesses offer sitting alternatives – like standing desks and sit-stand workstations – to building tenants and occupants.

Ergonomic, sit-stand workstations contribute to tenant comfort, wellness, and even productivity. Switching between seated and standing positions periodically has been proven to help increase energy, burn extra calories, tone muscles, improve posture, reduce blood sugar levels, and ramp up metabolism. After one year of standing just three additional hours each day, a tenant can burn up to 30,000 extra calories (the equivalent of running 10 marathons and losing eight pounds of fat). Standing also improves blood flow and oxygen levels in the brain, leading to increased energy, alertness, and focus.

office man standingHere are five things to consider when choosing sit-stand workstations for your high-rise office:

  1. Ensure that you have the right team making the decision. Have your office manager, as well as IT, wellness, EHS, and human resources teams, at the table. They can help decide if workstations should be fixed in cubicles or stay mobile for portability. You may have to reconfigure offices or prepare enclosed areas for the new workstations.
  2. Take technology into consideration. What will meet your tenants’ next-decade computing needs? Will they need dual monitors? A 24-inch screen? Will they use a PC and laptop together? Work with IT to draw out an “upgrade roadmap,” or consider the upgrades that have already been made. Is the system new? If yes, do you just want the option to sit or stand while you are using it?
  3. Ask around. Use your social networks and forums to find answers and recommendations on ways to incorporate sit-stand workstations. Hacker News has a great site with ongoing discussions regarding this topic. Also look for reviews by your favorite tech bloggers. (See “Standing Desk Guide: Measurements, Examples and Benefits” by Josh Smith or “Why and How I Switched to a Standing Desk” by Gina Trapani.)
  4. Make a decision! Set the plan in motion. Remind yourself why your organization started down this path in the first place: It’s a great way to boost morale, productivity, and health.
  5. Keep awareness levels high. There is a lot of debate about whether people will stick with using a height-adjustable station once it is installed. There are things your tenants may need to adjust once they begin using the workstations. They may need to work their way up to being able to stand more throughout the day, or may need to adjust the desk for elbow height or eye height on their LCDs. Offer training, and incorporate best practice ergonomics to keep the sit-stand workstations safe for everyone. JustStand.org has some great tips and tricks for tenants and occupants trying sit-stand workstations for the first time.

With relatively small changes – finding simple ways for tenants and occupants to move more throughout the work day – you can build a culture of movement in the workplace, offering a potential major positive impact on engagement, satisfaction, and morale. This culture enhances productivity and retention, and can also be a great incentive.

Carrie Schmitz

Carrie Schmitz is the ergonomics and research manager at Ergotron. To learn more, visit Ergotron.org.