To Sit, or Not to Sit, That is the Question

This blog discusses the introduction of sit-stand desks to the workplace.

You wake up in the morning, make breakfast and sit. You head out to work, get on the tube, bus or in a car and sit. You get to work, make your way to your desk and you sit. See a pattern here? Our daily lives are being consumed by non-stop sitting, with the average person spending seven to ten hours a day sitting down.[1] Have you stopped to think how this is impacting your overall health? In the 1950s a series of studies were conducted on bus drivers which showed in the end a link between inactivity/sedentary behaviour and higher rates of sickness and mortality. After sitting for 30 minutes, a person’s metabolism can slow down by up to 90%![2] Workers who fall into this category are twice as likely to generate type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.[3]

Companies are trying to reverse this issue with the use of sit-stand desks. These customisable desks can have their height either manually or electronically adjusted. Big corporations such as Johnson & Johnson, Chevron, Microsoft and Capital One have all been testing out these new desks and are finding them to be much more efficient than their predecessors. Four-fifths of employers have reported positive use; they have seen reduced absenteeism and an increase in the companies’ productivity. By endorsing sit-stand desks there is the potential to also significantly decrease employees’ healthcare costs and insurance premiums.

While many researchers have boasted about the great benefits that can come from this workplace switchover, not everyone is on board. The American Journal of Preventative Medicine reviewed around 17 studies and cases and did not find a significant correlation between occupational sitting and cancer. Alan Hedge, of Cornell University, also reported how if not done properly standing at work could have a negative effect, causing an increase in fatigue, risk of carotid arteriosclerosis and varicose veins.

So far, three hospitals in Leicestershire, UK will receive the desks which will allow each desk occupant to decide whether they want to sit or stand, and at what height they want it adjusted to. These specific desks will also be equipped with a wristband which will remind the wearer to move throughout the day.

In the end, you must weigh out the advantages and disadvantages of standing in the workplace and decide what works best for you. This movement in the workplace is jumpstarting a whole change in how we work. We can expect to see companies taking more of an interest in the wellbeing of their employees in the future, because they are now just starting to see that a happy AND healthy employee makes for much better company productivity.



[1] Firger, Jessica. 'How Much Standing Is Required to Stay Healthy?' Newsweek. IBT Media, 2 June 2015. Web. 18 June 2015.

[2] Schulte, Brigid. 'Office Workers Are Sitting Too Much and It's Killing Them. Here's What Health Experts Recommend They Do.' National Post. Postmedia Network, 4 June 2015. Web. 18 June 2015.

[3] Schulte, Brigid. 'Office Workers Are Sitting Too Much and It's Killing Them. Here's What Health Experts Recommend They Do.' National Post. Postmedia Network, 4 June 2015. Web. 18 June 2015.

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