Sitting stabilizes the body since it uses less energy than standing. You sit when you carry out motor skills like driving, computer related works, and creative drawings. The most job requires sitting which leads to a sedentary lifestyle and resulted to extensive sitting. This will foster less movement and health complications.
Studies have indicated a probable increase in the risks of colon cancer, kidney disease and cardiovascular diseases due to extensive sitting. Ergonomists have long suggested the use of standing desk as part of office design. When used properly, standing desks can be beneficial both to the user and the company.
WHY USE A STANDING DESK?
A standing desk is more than a trend, hype or the latest bandwagon. It now becomes the norm, the next big thing that is here to stay. The demand is great for the new wave of health-conscious workers and the employer's solution to enhance creativity with increased employee’s productivity and group performance.
The point is to introduce a standing desk that allows employees to have a choice. But it is expected that with the introduction of a standing desk, there will be an up in health awareness and employee’s productivity.
STANDING DESK BOOSTS ENERGY AND CONCENTRATION
Facebook officials say there is an augment in the number of request for a standing desk from their employees. Greg Hoy, a design recruiter, requested a standing desk a few months after joining Facebook. He noticed that he feels more active and performs better in work-related tasks. He said “I feel active the entire day” and he no longer experiences a slack posture in the afternoon.
Tiffany Mura who works in a biotech company is using a standing desk since 2012 can testify that it increases her concentration. She is also getting used to standing at most company meetings although it feels awkward the first time she did stand. Tiffany is actively running to stay fit and yet knew how important standing is. “I’m an avid runner and agree that standing is necessary for fit people, just like me,” she said.
STANDING DESK CREATES A HEALTHY WORKING PLACE
Martha Grogan, M.D., a Mayo Clinic cardiologist endorses activities that create physical movement as part daily activities. “Exercise is very important, but research has found that simply being physically active with your daily activities can keep your heart healthy.” She says.
The activities could be gardening and cleaning. For office workers this includes taking the stairs instead of elevators, take distance parking and walking to your destination, periodic simple movements, such as to stand, walk, and stretch throughout a long workday.
Dr. Alan Hedge, a professor of Ergonomics at Cornell University, suggests periodically alternating between sitting and standing while at work. He suggested that sitting at work is broken up by regularly standing and moving during the day. It means a 1-2 minutes break in every 20 to 30 minutes. Research has shown that periodic mini breaks upgrade comfort levels, work performance, and reduces the risks of musculoskeletal injuries.
Trevor Nelson, a presenter of BBC Radio 1Xtra is standing up and is using electronically adjustable desks in presenting his programs. "I think you've got to think of doing something during the day that doesn't involve going to a gym", he says.
Health benefits are just one of his considerations in using the standing desk. It is important for him to work productively and with increased energy. He concluded, "I feel more aware, I feel sharper, standing gives me more energy while I'm on air".
STANDING DESKS IMPROVE BRAIN FUNCTIONS
A sedentary lifestyle not only focuses on office workers who are tied to desk jobs but to school children as well. Studies have indicated that standing improves health and life expectancy. The movement created by the muscles produces fresh blood, nutrients and oxygen to the brain, and stimulates mood-enhancing brain functions. A study published by the Oxford University Press journal "Brain," shows that cerebral circulation is activated just by standing on one foot or both feet.
Having a purpose to minimize sedentary behavior among students, the school administrators purposely provided dynamic classrooms equipped with desks that facilitate standing and movement. These standing desks allow students to sit or stand and move, providing possible movement during academic assignments and instructional activities.
The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published a study which shows a welcoming report that providing a standing desk in the classroom will give neurocognitive benefits to the students. These benefits could be an improvement in executive function, working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control. Executive functions are mental skills that help you finish the task on hand. The frontal lobe, which is one of the areas of the brain, control these skills.
The study was conducted by assistant professor Ranjana Mehta, Ph.D., of Texas A&M School of Public Health. The subjects are high school students (34 freshmen) who are asked to use standing desk during the fall semester and during the spring semester. Dr. Mehta observed that continuously using a standing desk will result in significant improvements in executive function and working memory capabilities.
This study put into focus the positive effects of using a standing desk in improving cognitive functions. These mental function helps you manage time, pay attention, change focus, plan and organize and recall details. This study will give access to future researchers as it will help improve and create innovative classroom design. This type of study will also provide ways to heighten children’s cognitive function and development that will potentially impact educational outcomes.
Mark Benden, Ph.D., CPE, co-researcher and director of the Texas A&M Ergonomics Center is appreciative of the fact that there is “anecdotal evidence from teachers that students focus better and behave well while using standing desks.”
WHY COMPANIES ARE SHIFTING TO STANDING DESK?
Facebook is one of the social companies that take the plunge and introduce standing desks to their employees. Employees took the initiative to request for a standing desk and the number kept rising. An official says that numbers went from five to eight in a week with a total of 200 - 250 distributed in the company of at least 2,000 employees. Although it is noted that when the web got viral about the health risk of a sedentary lifestyle, there is an uprise in the demand for standing desks which is one of the healthy alternatives to prolonged sitting.
Another employee Tiffani Jones Brown, a content strategist, also requested the standing desk months after joining Facebook. She said that a standing desk will help her keep a high energy level when working. Studies indicate that movement triggers the release of brain-enhancing chemicals while being sedentary for a long time slows brain functions. This is evident when Brown mentions that “sitting all day makes her tired.”
Jordan Newman, a spokesperson for Google shared that "the company distributed standing desks as part of their health wellness program and a good number of many employees are requesting for standing desk" .Although when he was asked the number of users, he replied he is not aware how many are users of standing desk.
FF Venture Capital, a firm that caters to technology companies by providing funds, found that standing makes their employees more creative and active in sharing of ideas. This positive change in employees pushes the firm to introduce standing desk. They could even introduce standing meetings now that they have furnished standing desk in their meeting rooms.
Recently, collaborative design team and receptive business owners agreed on the health benefits of standing desk to their employees. This understanding leads to a new and updated office design. There will be a change and inclusion of standing desk in the office, mandatory and or optional, as requested by employees.
Depending on the budget, companies can totally ditch the chairs or keep it, and convert cubicles to sit to stand workstations.