Hedge’s 3S’s Ideal Work Pattern

It is a known fact that prolonged sitting or standing on the job has adverse effects on the health and productivity of workers. There are programs that promote the benefits of building more movement into the workplace. Research on ergonomics recommends the periodic switching in between sitting and standing as the need is presented. This is done successfully with the use of a standing desk converter.

There are available options on combining sitting and standing: (1) Two separate desk for sitting and standing which end up taking more space, (2) single desk with adjustable height and the ideal workstation set-up (3) electric height adjustable work surface plus an elevated chair.

Alan Hedge, a professor of design and environmental analysis in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University and director of Cornell’s Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory, recommends, based on his research studies, that employees follow the sit-stand-stretch work pattern. It means that in every 30 minutes cycle, a worker is allowed 20 minutes sitting, followed by 8 minutes standing, and finally 2 minutes standing and moving. This practice is said to be the best way of organizing work. For a total of 7.5 hours workday (lunch excluded), this means that workers would have a total of 5 hours of sitting, 16 sit-to-stand changes, 2 hours of standing, and 0.5 hours of moving.

Sitting must be done in proper posture. It means that there can't be any leaning forward, the shoulders should be relaxed, arms closed to sides, elbows bent at 90 degrees, feet flat on the floor, and the lower back supported. Standing must also be done in proper posture. It means holding your head up straight with your chin, keeping your shoulder blades back and your knees straight; tuck your stomach in and put your feet flat on the floor. Stretching can include walking, doing yoga poses to improve extension as well as flexion on your back, and perhaps sitting on something wobbly.

Research shows that you don’t need to do vigorous exercise to get the positive benefits of having an active lifestyle, alternating between sitting and standing is a good start. So build in a pattern of creating greater movement variety in the workplace (e.g. walk to a printer or a water fountain, stand for a meeting, take the stairs, walk around the office or canteen, park a bit further away from the building each day).