Is standing up to work a passing fad? That’s what I thought when I first heard about employees raising their desks and getting rid of their office chairs. But prolonged sitting leads to poor circulation, according to Jessie Shafer of DeliciousLiving.com. Sitting for too long also contributes to softer bones, loss of flexibility, sore shoulders and neck, heart disease, and colon cancer. Plus, if you slump at your desk, your abdominal muscles can go mushy, causing your back to arch excessively and damage your disks. No wonder more people are standing up to work!
How much sitting are employees in your office doing? A recent Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS)* examined the sedentary nature of jobs across the nation. The survey found that many workers spend an average of only 3.0 hours sitting and 4.4 hours standing or walking on the job. However, some occupations required workers to spend 80% to 90% of the workday sitting. A few examples were telemarketers, computer programmers, and advertising sales agents, but there are many desk jobs that require heavy computer, telephone, or paper work and tie people to their desks.
With the advent of adjustable stand-up desks, having a desk job no longer means your employees must sit. But will your workers buy into the idea of standing up to work? They might if you impress them with the potential for increased productivity, higher concentration, and fewer headaches. You can further convince them with the fact that sitting applies up to 90% more pressure on your lower back than standing. This is significant since one in four adults sought treatment for back pain in the last year because of sitting too much.
Plus, employees don’t need to stand at their desks all day to receive health benefits. According to StandDesk.Co, “standing just three hours a day is the equivalent of running 10 marathons per year, and shedding 8 pounds of fat. That’s 30,000+ calories over the course of a year, according to a study conducted by Dr. John Buckley and team of researchers at the University of Chester BBC.”
If you want healthier, happier employees, standing up to work isn’t the only policy you should implement, urges Shafer. Encourage your professionals to also leave their desks for lunch. It will discourage them from mindlessly snacking, says Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. Avoiding those extra calories can be the difference between your workers’ health or obesity. (Not only are obese workers sick 13 times as often as non-obese employees, but they have more health issues such as chronic pain, knee problems, musculoskeletal issues, and injuries that create permanent disabilities.) Taking a real lunch break will also help increase workplace satisfaction and lead to better work relationships, not to mention a more inviting company culture.
How sedentary are you at work? As an employer, it’s up to you to lead by example. One employer we know sets the pace by conducting his team meetings via a brisk ten-minute walk around the parking lot. You can also make it a point not to dine at your own desk–even if it is your new adjustable stand-up desk!
*Survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor and Statistics