Sit-stand desks are becoming a more common sight in workplaces across the country. Whether you’re already using one or are looking at the options for making your workstation stand up-friendly, here are four pieces of advice designed to get the most from any sit-stand desk:
Fit for purpose
Before taking the plunge on the latest sit-stand workstation, check that it meets your specific usage needs. Do you have more than one device on the go at a time? If so, look at models with a dual monitor set up that can hold a PC, laptop and/or tablet simultaneously. This will save you switching equipment around and enable you to work more quickly and efficiently.
Check the weight bearing capacity of the workstations you’re researching, as these can vary. So if you have a large screen PC, big laptop and separate keyboard, find out if your new desk is designed to hold these weights.
Check your essentials
Look at all your desktop items at your current workstation that are not a PC, laptop or keyboard and consider where these will go. Will they sit on, next to or underneath any new sit-stand desk? If you need items close to hand, think about whether you’d like them within easy reach or are happy to move to fetch them.
As well as ensuring a more healthy working style, the idea is to be able to work easily too, so think about where your stationery, pens and other desk accessories should be in relation to your new sit-stand desk.
Stand up tall
Ergonomics are as important when using a sit-stand desk as when seated at a traditional desk. From a posture point of view, the same rules apply, so users should set their desks so that their arms are at a 90° angle from their bodies when typing. Monitors should be at eye height, ideally 15 to 30 inches away.
Standing well matters. Physiotherapists often advise users to stand as if there is a balloon gently pulling their heads up, with their knees slightly bent. Backs should be in neutral alignment, in other words not leaning backwards or sloping forwards. Comfortable shoes are also crucial, as the soles of your feet will need support during these stand up periods.
It’s not one or the other
Remember that it isn’t about standing all the time. Office workers may be on their feet in ever increasing numbers thanks to a range of studies showing that staying seated for long periods can be detrimental to health, but they need to sit down as well as walk around at regular intervals too.
Staying seated slows down our metabolism, which NHS Choices says affects our ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat. This can lead to a range of health risks including weight gain, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
However, this does not mean we should throw the office chair away. We all need a good office chair because sitting down gives us a break and reduces the health risks from standing for a long time.
Studies on workers who stand for long periods, such as in retail, catering or industry, have shown that standing throughout a working day can lead to lower limb problems, back pain and other conditions.
So, the answer is to use a good office chair and a sit-stand desk in rotation with one another throughout a working day – and to not forget to take regular walking breaks too.