Across Australia (and much of the world), people are now standing to perform many of the tasks that they used to complete sitting down. This is becoming common practice in receptions, the bullpen and even in meeting rooms. There is now an even larger variety of adjustable height and standing desks available, which have been proven to be good for us in a number of ways.
How are these desks “good” for us?
Studies have shown that standing (rather than sitting) can improve your posture, help you to lose or maintain your weight, and even prevent some serious conditions (such as diabetes and heart disease). A study (by the Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany) has even shown that standing at your desk can even make you smarter!
Basically, the study got people to walk on a treadmill whilst performing some basic cognitive tasks to see if they would think better while walking. The conclusion – they sure did. And haven’t we all experienced a light bulb moment just getting up from our desks? Or felt re-energised about the task at hand from simply going to the printer? Why didn’t we realise the benefits sooner?
What about in meetings?
And when it comes to meetings, people find that standing makes them more attentive, more energised and less likely to waste words. Some managers and supervisors have found that, in the past, when they would book a meeting room (with chairs) for half an hour, the whole timeframe would be used. Now, a meeting (without chairs) can be over and done with in 10 minutes.
Are there any downsides?
For some workers, however, the idea of standing for 8 hours per day can seem like downright torture. A good example of this is the ticket barrier attendants at Sydney train stations – whilst management believes that removing chairs has improved customer service, commuters haven’t really noticed much difference and workers actually note that it’s harder to maintain their concentration.
What are our conclusions?
It is for this reason that standing desks are unlikely to permeate workplaces as quickly as it was once thought. Whilst those in office professions (whereby they spend hours at a time in front of a computer) will certainly see improvements and benefits from implementing such a policy, it seems that those in more retail professions (whereby the spend periods of time dormant) will prefer to sit.
At the end of the day, you need to consider the time of industry in which you operate and the type of people that you employ – more often than not, you will find that your workplace will benefit from adjustable height or standing desks. Why not implement them in your workplace for a trial run (perhaps only for those employees who want to try them out)?