The Health And Productivity Benefits Of Standing
Labrosse points out that standing while working is nothing new (many have noted that Ernest Hemingway was known to stand at a shelf, that Winston Churchill and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stood as they worked), and that standing desks have been around for a long time.
But Labrosse also wanted his own research to uncover the impact that standing has on health, productivity, creativity, and innovation. He observed work environments, attended ergonomics conferences (yes, there's such a thing), and evaluated existing products. The data was compelling, frightening even.
I've always felt the urge to stand while working, and I've considered purchasing a stand-up desk. We've got one makeshift solution in Tom's Hardware's Culver City office, but it's nothing fancy, and we're considering purchasing some reasonably-priced models to share in a central area of the work space. The more I read some of the data on the risks of being sedentary, the more I'm driven to encourage this, and to do so at home, Stir or no Stir.
If you want a sobering visual to scare you straight up onto your feet, take a look at the widely viewed infographic called "Sitting Is Killing You." And you don't have to go far to see that medical experts agree.
Let me overwhelm you with more, from Diabetologia's studies of almost 800,000 people, as articulated in a recent New York Times article: those who sit the most have a 112% higher chance of developing diabetes, a 147% higher chance for heart disease, and an almost 50% chance of dying early, no matter if they already exercised with regularity. This study measured all sedentary behavior, including sitting at work, not just watching TV.
Not enough? The BBC did its own study, and one of the findings was that standing three hours a day is the equivalent of running 10 marathons a year in terms of burning fat. The blood glucose levels observed in participants who stood while they worked fell to normal levels after meals.
There's also evidence that the lack of activity induced by sitting at a workstation all day causes muscle fatigue, according to the center for ergonomic research (yes, there is such a thing). This fatigue, the study argues, leads to more work breaks (47% more in the study, and a 288% increase in actual break time) and thus lower output.
And none of this even touches on the idea of attracting the best employees with creative and comfortable work environments.
One particularly telling finding of Labrosse's research: many organizations that have standing desks report that users don't necessarily use that feature. For one thing, power cables and other peripheral attachments are often compromised when the desk is raised. For another, worker habits often find them in a zone where immersion in a task means employees ignore opportunities to use the desk's features (or to eat, for that matter, or feel any sort of physical comfort at all).
Ultimately these observations fueled the Stir Kinetic Desk design, and the ideas behind the desk's responsive and adaptive capabilities.