Standing desks: Just a fad or are they paying off?
14 June 2016
Are standing desks the latest workplace fad or are they really paying off? With sedentary behaviour at an all-time high, standing workstations have been touted as the ‘next big thing’ to help boost productivity and improve wellbeing at work. Recent studies indicate that these active workstations are indeed beneficial and worth the investment, resulting in a variety of benefits for office employees. So, what’s the low-down on standing desks?
The Heart Foundation describes sedentary behaviour as “activity that requires very low energy expenditure … sitting at work, reading, sitting in transit, watching television, and using a computer”. Standing desks were created in order to minimise this type of sedentary behaviour in offices, incorporating more physical movement throughout the working day.
A 2015 University of Technology Sydney (UTS) review of standing and seated desks in the workplace demonstrated that standing or active workstations are in fact beneficial, with benefits including improvements in physical health, mental clarity and workplace productivity.
Energy expenditure and weight loss
In the UTS review, standing desks saw an increase in the average heart rate of employees. Participants also reported weight loss over the three month trial. Applicants in a similar study by the Heart Foundation found that most participants said they would continue to use the workstation if they had the option — also noting physical improvements, such as less back pain — indicating a high level of acceptance.
Focus and productivity
Workers using a standing desk were found to be less likely to slump and get distracted. The UTS review participants also reported less fatigue after using an active workstation. Sit-stand workstations were also used to monitor typing performance, with results demonstrating no difference in errors per minute while standing.
Clarity and mental health
Participants described feeling more energised, focused and comfortable while using the workstations, with a noticeable reduction in stress. Once returning to a seated desk, their mood returned to its baseline level. The studies also showed no significant changes to speech, memory, attention and cognitive function when using an active workstation.
Invest in the future of healthcare
If offices continue to see the benefits of standing desks on their employees’ health and productivity, they may not fade away as some may have initially thought. What’s required is more education and leadership from people within the healthcare industry to better understand and implement these types of workstations.
The Master of Healthcare Leadership at SCU Online will enable you to stay at the top of the learning curve, analyse data and create new initiatives, leading to further innovation and change.
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