Sit-Stand Desks – Are they worth it?
Everyone is talking about sit-stand desks. All the office furniture manufacturers offer them and, it seems, are pushing like crazy trying to get us to buy them. Walk into any showroom in Clerkenwell and you’ll see these things prominently displayed – not just one but often a large bench configuration featuring 4 or 6 desks occupying a considerable amount of prime showroom space. But are they worth it, does anyone buy them and should you be buying them?
As an office desking supplier, I’d love it if all my customers bought Sit-Stand desks rather than conventional ones. We’d increase our turnover and profit three or four fold! But they don’t and it boils down to cost. One of our standard desks will cost you around £150, whereas a light duty electrically operated desk comes in at around £400 and a heavy duty/bench type at £600 plus. That’s more than 4 times the cost of a regular desk and most businesses are simply not able to justify it.
But cost aside, do they offer benefits and if we could afford them, should we have them? The answer is probably yes to both questions. Quite what and how much benefit these desks deliver is open to debate but for sure at least some of your employees would use them as intended. And even if it brings no obvious physical health benefit but instead gives the employee a sense of wellbeing (the fact that you’ve made an investment in something on their behalf that they believe is doing them some good), then of course it’s worth it – happy workers are productive workers and all that! Studies have been done into the benefits of alternating between sitting and standing at a desk but no doubt more needs to be done before we see conclusive facts and figures. But I suggest that much of the justification centres around the already well established and universally accepted knowledge that sitting at a desk in a static position for the best part of 8 hours a day is not all that good for your back or your fitness. Absolutely, I’ll go along with that! Having spent 40 years doing competitive rowing and also playing rugby in my youth, my back needs to be treated with care and long durations of sitting or standing really doesn’t help me.
So, we’ve always been told to take breaks from sitting and get up and walk around to exercise the spine, muscles and joints. But of course people for whom work is predominantly desk-bound can’t keep going off for a stroll otherwise they’re not going to get their work finished, so a height adjustable sit-stand desk is the obvious solution to the problem!
But before we start thinking that a £600+ desk is going to be the answer to work-related back problems, it’s probably correct to say that it is just part of a solution that might benefit some people.
The other, and in my opinion more fundamental part of the solution, would be to make sure that whilst people are sitting at their desks, they have a chair that provides a high degree of support and functionality, and that they have adjusted it correctly and are using it as intended! In other words, a decent ergonomic task chair with all the adjustments, support and mechanisms that aid good sitting. If your budget is limited and you really can’t extend it to sit-stand desks, then spend as much money as you can afford on Synchronous Mechanism Task Chairs or other advanced ergonomic chairs instead and make sure your staff receive instruction on how to use them. This will at least help to minimise the negative aspects of sitting down and just maybe your staff won’t develop the back niggles in the first place that lead to them needing to stand up or walk around at regular intervals!
To conclude. If you can afford it, treat your entire office to Sit-Stand desks and high quality ergonomic task chairs. If you can’t justify the sit stand desks, then spend as much as you can afford on ergonomic chairs. Your staff will be appreciate it and you may just get more out of them in return.