Standing up for a healthier workplace: A personal case study

Let’s face it, office types have a reputation for leading sedentary lifestyles. Despite the fact that many of us go to the gym, run during lunch breaks and even use wearable technology to monitor our activity levels, we spend a lot of time sitting at our desks and in meetings.

The idea that we should sit less and be more active at work by using a standing desk first came to my attention when our Chief Sales Officer joined our company. One of the first things he did was to request a standing desk, as he has been a dedicated user of the technology for over five years and is firmly convinced of the advantages they deliver.

Looking into this further, I researched the potential benefits which can range from relief for back pain, better posture and core strength to the potential for weight loss, statistically decreased risk of heart disease and increased energy and productivity levels. This motivated me to change my own approach and I did so initially by creating my own ‘organic’ standing desk.

Built using a couple of old mini tower PCs, plastic boxes and some old shelves to raise the structure above my normal desk height as a temporary, trial solution, it has gone through many iterations since.

standing desk

Image 1: My ‘home made’ standing desk

Nine months later, I was still using my own standing desk setup, and was able to cope with as much as a full eight hours a day of standing. I also found that as I was standing up anyway, I tended to go and actually talk to people rather than sending an email or IM, which further increased my activity levels, as well as improving communication and working relationships.

The Ergotron WorkFit-T

Recently a major upgrade took place. I got the opportunity to replace my home-made standing desk with a professional sit-stand workstation from Ergotron. The WorkFit-T is ergonomically designed to be placed on top of a regular desk without mounting or clamping, making it easily movable from one work area to another. You can sit normally at your desk, but when you want to stand, the whole unit lifts up very easily using levers on both sides to raise it to a height to suit your standing work posture.

Ergotron-workfit-t

Image 2: The Ergotron WorkFit-T at standing height

I have also been using the WorkFit dual monitor attachment and a laptop tray on Ergotron’s LX desk mount arm. The platform space can accommodate a couple of good sized monitors quite easily, but the dual LCD riser kit I have mounts the monitors directly on a central pole and arm system with vertical adjustment so I have even more free space on the platform.

The Ergotron desk raises and lowers nicely without difficulty, and because it does so purely in a vertical direction, it is also well suited to locations where there is limited space. Even with the monitor arms attached, there is plenty of room to place documents on the platform.

The monitor arms also have sensible points for cable routing to be pinned and I was pleasantly surprised to be supplied with a decent array of cable sleeves, Velcro wraps and cable ties to allow me to do this neatly. The monitors can also rotate on the mount if you want them to - if not they can be locked, which is a nice feature.

Using the WorkFit-T has been a very positive experience, and I have learnt a lot about how standing more during the day works best for me. There is plenty of debate out there about whether standing for eight hours is any better than sitting, but the general consensus is that a mix of sit-stand is definitely the way to go. However you choose to proceed, it is still important to maintain good posture in both positions.

These days, on average, I am standing about 70 per cent of the time, and I have learned to listen to my bones and muscles. Once you have acclimatised to standing, sorted your stance and maybe added a footrest to keep you comfortable, you start picking up on when you need a change of position. If your standing posture becomes tiring or painful you need to change, and with sit-stand desks that’s very easy.

I encourage anyone who wants to try standing to work in the office to do so – even if it means building your own desk structure at first until you’re sure it suits you (NB – without a structural engineer, I would also recommend checking your health and safety policy - and if you need planning permission, chances are you’ve gone too far…).

You can then approach the office management to request a real, sustainable solution like the WorkFit-T.

Nick Holder, Platform Development Manager at Adapt