How can I be more active at my desk job? It’s also a question health-conscious companies are asking as well since regular exercise is tied to higher workplace productivity, job contentment, and get-up-and-go. Sedentary behavior is such a common workplace problem that studies show workers are looking to their employers for more opportunities to avoid it, which is how the debate over standing or sitting desks has once again become a hot discussion topic in the office.
The Debate Over Ergonomic Office Furniture
We’ve all laughed at The Office’s take on ergonomic office furniture.
Workplaces tend to be split just as The Office’s workers are, but there is real science behind why it continues to be so controversial since desk job employees tend to experience musculoskeletal problems from leaning forward over keyboards. There are also more complaints of wrist pain and eye strain.
Another variable that reduces productivity is the spine damage workers experience when sitting for prolonged periods. Along with the spine, there is also an imbalance of the muscles and abdomen that contributes to lower back pain. Improperly sitting even causes issues like carpal tunnel syndrome and back and neck injuries, which are among the leading causes of absenteeism.
It’s not healthy to sit for prolonged periods. Not every employee has the energy or conditioning to stand either, even though it is incredibly beneficial for them to still get up regularly. Aside from factors that increase carpal tunnel syndrome, lumbar disc load, neck stiffness, back pain, and weight gain are probable without regular mobility practices in place for desk job workers.
Of course, ergonomic office furniture will solve both problems, but it’s a matter of each employee’s wants and needs. The problem, of course, is that some workers do not want to sit for eight hours, nor do they want to stand for that amount of time either. So, how do you solve this problem? You allow employees to give their input on sitting, standing, or sit-to-standing desks.
When workers use a sit to stand desk or a standing desk even for a small part of the workday, it will minimalize these health risks and allow workers to have more control over when they exercise on the job. It also promotes better muscle balance and spine alignment when workers are not sitting for their entire shifts. The ability to choose also gives employees more freedom.
What about the science behind standing desks?
Do ergonomics apply to standing desks as well? Just as improper sitting can cause health issues, so too can standing for extended periods if you are not practicing ergonomics in the workplace. Posture is incredibly important, but employers that invest in ergonomic office furniture tend to hire experts to teach employees ergo-etiquette.
Employees who maintain proper positioning when standing and use their breaks to get exercise will optimize their work days. Studies also show that it’s easier to shed weight when standing for six hours per day and that it burned 15 percent more calories than those sitting. Standing would also promote muscle activity that would help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
An internationally-based expert panel has weighed in on the sitting or standing debate and recommended that workers stand a minimum of two to four hours per day to maintain optimal health. For desk workers, fluctuating from a sitting to a standing desk is the only way to ensure they get more exercise. Thankfully, most ergonomic office equipment is diversified for change.
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a U.S. government agency), tends to agree as the organization estimated that a workplace loses one dollar to every three spent on worker compensation because of ergonomic workplace complaints. OSHA also found that it cost employers $20 billion in compensation alone, and up to $54 billion for the annual costs associated with it, including the eleven recovery days on average workers required.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also found that in a single year, employers dealt with more than 380,000 ergonomic-related workplace injuries. The organization also found that carpal tunnel syndrome was the most cited reason for lost work days for administrative, IT, laborers, and sales workers that averaged twenty-five recovery days. Ergonomic equipment would help prevent it.
The good news about this data is that a simple investment in standing desks and a few stretch routines will significantly improve the workplace with an ergo-friendly environment. It will also help your workforce improve health and productivity, which is a benefit for both the employer and employee. The results of a 2014 study supported this belief as well as workplace fulfillment.
Standing Desk Benefits
Is a standing desk good for you?
The truth about standing desks is that the health benefits alone have a positive impact on a body’s fitness and well-being. Here are a few vital things to consider.
- A sedentary lifestyle raises the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and death. How much is your company losing from absences, higher health care, or lower productivity?
- Investing in ergonomic office furniture would benefit workplace health assessment initiatives as a Mayo Clinic study found that standing six hours reduces obesity.
- American diabetes experts advise recurrent standing will reduce blood sugar by a third.
- The AICR found that regular exercise reduces the risk of colon and breast cancer.
- A recent university study found that sit to stand desks would lead to less back pain.
- Standing raised good cholesterol and lowered harmful HDL levels. Along with ergonomic office equipment, the CDC provides tools to reduce bad HDL-cholesterol.
- A study found that those who used standing desks had higher productivity rates of 45%. Productivity increased in the first month to 23%, but by six months, it grew to 53%.
It is essential for employers to keep in mind that standing desks come in several different styles, so there’s something for everyone regardless of fitness level or health condition. For health-conscious workers, it’s also the answer for integrating healthy routines to an already-busy workday. If you’re ready for a solution, visit Rocelco for premier ergonomic office furniture.