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One of the common arguments for getting a standing desk is that it supposedly increases your productivity, but is that really true?
Let’s find out.
Do Standing Desks Really Improve Productivity?
Yes, standing desks increase the productivity of employees up to 45% in comparison to solely sedentary workers. The increase grows gradually over time. While there is only a comparably small effect in the first month of implementing standing desks into the workspace, the level peaks over a couple of months.
Let’s take a closer look, why so many companies are switching up their office furniture.
Studies On Standing Desks With Office Workers
The biggest worry of employers or just someone intending to get a standing table is the price of standing tables. Is the acquisition really worth the benefits that come with a standing desk?
To help you decide, let’s take a look at a study from the department of environmental and occupational health at the Texas A&M University. 
In this study 167 call center employees participated in a 6 months long intervention, where they have been introduced to standing desks during their office work.
The stunning results show a 45% productivity increase in the intervention group towards the control group of colleagues and employees that kept sitting, by the end of this intervention.
What’s also notable is the growing increase over time that suggests a familiarization with a sit stand desk.
So keep in mind it takes some time to do the transition from conventional sitting desks.
While the employees increased their productivity only by about 23% in the first month using sit stand desks, it peaked at 53% during the course of the 6 month intervention.
There is clear evidence that sit stand desks not only help productivity but they increased the employees’ energy levels as well.
Yet the study suggests further research on the effectiveness for health and work performance.
So if you’re thinking about getting a sit stand desk for yourself or your employees, one of your potential benefits can be a significant increase in your productiveness.
But as always you need to take studies like this with a grain of salt.
It was aiming at office workers in a call center. They do a very monotonous kind of work. If you’re someone who needs to be creative, or highly focused you may have a different experience.
Call center agents had a great work experience using standing desks, giving them an option to vary they position while doing their job.
What Other Observations Say
A review from the University of Waterloo examined the effectiveness of sit stand desks on reducing user discomfort without causing a decrease in productivity.
All in all, they reviewed 14 articles showing all kinds of research on standing workstations.
The review led to the conclusion that sit stand workstations are likely effective in reducing perceived discomfort.
In terms of productiveness, the results were inconclusive. Three studies reported an increase in productivity, four reported no effect, and one reported mixed results.
What does that mean?
As you can see, research can lead to different results. The reason for that is the design of the study. It always depends on the participants, the kind of job they do, how long researchers intervene, how participants use the furniture and so on…
Yet, most of the studies showed positive effects on productivity, but to be certain you need to get deeper into the backgrounds.
Also, you can safely assume that the kind of work plays a role as well. When you call people it’s certainly pleasing to stand up and maybe take some steps to walk around while on the phone.
But when you have advanced calculations or highly filigree work that requires a lot of focus, you may want to sit down.
So an increase of productivity of 45% can be certainly possible in the right conditions, but certainly don’t represent the standard (which basically doesn’t exist).
The truth might be anywhere in between 45% and a marginal increase.
Other Perks of Having The Option To Stand Up
Even though the results in terms of productivity aren’t consistent, there are other positive effects of a sitting and standing workplace for your body, physical health, and wellbeing.
By having the opportunity to stand up while working, people get more activity and have a higher caloric expenditure.
Altering the positions between sitting and standing reduces fatigue, helps blood flow and circulation, decreases joint pain, increases brain activity, and even encourages the creation of new brain cells.
Other great benefits for your body are a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even though the difference in caloric expenditure is quite small, the difference in outcome is measurable and significant.
Standing vs Sitting
Now here is the misconception some people may conclude. It’s not standing all day that gives you those health benefits.
People who are forced to stand all day while working will know that. Standing all day isn’t the answer, neither is sitting. Our bodies aren’t designed for that matter.
It’s about the balance in between those two.
Standing for a prolonged time a day causes
- chronic back pain
- musculoskeletal disorders
- excessive lower-limb fatigue
- increased risk of cardiovascular disease
- increased pressure in the veins
- increase in oxidative stress
None of those negative effects have occurred in people who vary between sitting and standing throughout their workday!
So it’s not about choosing between sitting and standing, but about switching between those, do a few stretches here and there, and take a couple of small breaks during your work.
Conclusion: Your Employees Will Thank You
There are quite some measurable positive health gains when using sit-stand desks. If they actually increase the productivity can’t be approved 100% for every kind of job.
Yet there are some jobs that will definitely benefit and enjoy switching up positions during the workday.
Your employees will be thankful anyways, for making their office furniture more ergonomic and enjoyable.
The most important thing is to keep in mind that it’s always the balance and the right mix between sitting and standing, that will make the difference.