Workers who use sit-stand desks are just as productive as those who use traditional desks while enjoying possible health benefits, according to a University of Sydney study.
Despite a growing number of intervention studies looking at the impact of sit-stand desks on workers’ sitting and standing behaviours, relatively little is known about the effects on worker productivity.
“Our study found that workers who increased their standing by up to 60-90 minutes a day were more active and felt more energised than workers who used traditional desks, while not compromising their work output,” said Josephine Chau from the University’s school of public health.
Chau, who was lead researcher for a pilot study which measured the effects on the productivity of 30 call-centre workers using powered sit-stand desks, said the workers reported being more satisfied and feeling more productive at work.
“The proportion of workers who reported they had enough energy throughout their workday increased seven-fold, from 6 per cent to 44 percent when using sit-stand desks,” she said.
“Sit-stand desks are a good option for office workers who want to reduce the amount of time they spend sitting during their working day.
“A growing body of research suggests that prolonged periods of sitting is linked to a higher risk of developing chronic diseases, including obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
“These health risks are particularly relevant for people with largely sedentary jobs, such as office workers.
“We must be aware of the dangers of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and do all we can to combat this. A sit-stand desk is one of many things you can do to improve your health, but exercising is crucial.
“People shouldn’t assume that a standing desk means they don’t have to exercise – we need to sit less and move more,” she said.
Co-investigator Lina Engelen also said that prolonged standing also has its own risks, and noted that people need to be mindful to build up their standing time gradually and avoid going from no standing to standing all day at work.
“It’s a bit like training for a marathon – you don’t go from running 0 km to 42 km overnight. You need to help your body adjust to it gradually,” she said.
“Ideally, workers could aim for around two hours of standing or non-sitting time per working day.”