Workspace design for employee productivity

How standing desks can improve productivity

How standing desks can improve productivity

Have you ever heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking”? Well, it isn’t just a hollow claim to get you on your feet. Dr. James Levine, in his work on NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis), talks about how modern office workplace habits are testing our bodies, given that “we sit for 13 hours a day, sleep for 8 and move for 3.”

We sit during our commute to work, at the office, while having lunch and in a variety of other everyday situations. Dr. Levine has linked all of this time spent off our feet to several serious health ailments, including obesity.

Why does it matter?

Employee productivity is directly related to their well-being. An unhealthy employee will be underproductive at work, take more time off, produce work of lower quality, and may eventually suffer burnout. One way to counter this is by using standing desks. This is not a modern invention: prominent personalities like Sir Winston Churchill and Thomas Jefferson used standing desks during their busy careers.

If you are an employer or employee who spends much of your working day seated in a chair, read on to learn more about standing desks and how they can help both you and your organization.

What’s in it for employees?

What’s in it for employers?

A group of employees at the Draugiem Group decided to test for themselves how standing desks would impact work performance. They developed an application to track time and productivity while sitting versus standing. The results were remarkable: productivity jumped by 10% when they were standing.

That leaves us with the million-dollar question: how is this possible?

  • Improved focus: Standing was found to be a deterrent to multi-tasking, perhaps due to the sense of urgency it creates. This underlined the fact that sitting leads to distractions, such as surfing websites and checking e-mails, more than while standing.
  • Better energy levels: Participants in the experiment reported that standing for a longer time helped stabilize energy levels. This made getting through the day easier without suffering through an afternoon spell of sluggishness.
  • Increased morale: It was observed that companies which provide adjustable desks were perceived as employers that genuinely cared about their employees’ well-being. This had a positive impact on morale, thus promoting higher productivity.

Who else is using standing desks?

Prominent technology firms, including Google, Facebook and Twitter have now introduced standing desks in their offices. Besides promoting improved employee health, standing tables also boost productivity at the workplace.

They can’t stand all the time, can they?

A modern standing workstation can be converted into a traditional desk at the click of a button. So, an employee can have the best of both worlds.

How should I make the change?

If you feel that standing desks could be the way forward for your organisation, the question that remains is: how to integrate them into your workplace?

Here are a few pointers:

  1. Start by placing standing desks in break-out or common areas so you can gauge your employees’ responses to them.
  2. Meeting rooms can be furnished with standing desks to facilitate free-flowing discussions (For smokers, using a standing desk apparently also helps manage the anxiety of going for extended periods of time without smoking a cigarette.)
  3. Conduct a short survey on user impressions regarding the standing computer desks you place in the office to understand your employees’ reactions to the new office furniture. Respond quickly to any concerns raised by the staff and apprise them of the related health and productivity benefits to encourage adoption.
  4. Gradually bring in more such tables for individual use. Turning an existing table into an adjustable table, with the help of a converter, is a quick and economical way of making the switch.

Standing desk options available:

Adjustable desks come in two varieties: those with a mechanical system and those with an electrical mechanism. The former must be adjusted manually and may be cumbersome to reposition daily, whereas the latter can be operated at the push of a button. Another low-cost option is laptop or monitor stands.

Decision-makers or the HR team should consider any long-term benefits to the organization and its employees, both tangible and intangible, as well as the cost of purchasing the tables themselves, when evaluating the impact of a standing-friendly workplace.

Employees should be allowed an opportunity to gradually warm up to the idea of standing up for a major portion of the day to ensure that the transition is successful and sustainable. Reactions by employees to changes in office furniture interiors will be influenced by their personal preferences, so be sure to include your employees in the planning phase to find out which features and attributes matter most to them.