As two of the newer employees at The Human Solution, my colleague Daniel Freeberg and I have spent the last few months soaking up information like sponges. There’s always something new to learn in the world of ergonomics, and we recently had the opportunity to attend an important webinar presented by ergonomic expert Drew Bossen that reinforced some of the most important reasons to switch to a sit-stand work environment. Since we’re office neighbors – and very chatty guys – Daniel and I decided to have a discussion about what we learned.
Daniel: I saw you hopping on your treadmill right after attending the “Sit-Stand Workstations: Today’s Solution” webinar. Did the scare-tactics work on you? Part of me wanted to get to walking too, but I was too depressed.
Rob: Guilty as charged, Daniel. Were they actually scare tactics? You know as well as I do that sitting all day at work will slowly kill us. The scientific evidence is there. You and I aren’t going to be this youthful and athletic forever so it’s incumbent upon us to ensure our health going forward. Really, these desks are awesome and it’s always fun to peer over into your workspace to see what you’re up to. I get the feeling that not everyone gets to work in as much ergonomic comfort as us, though.
Daniel: Yeah, our UpLift standing desks and LifeSpan standing desk treadmills are huge advantages to working at The Human Solution. And really, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with instilling a little bit of fear into people when it comes to the dangers of prolonged sitting. Sure, sitting all day may not be as bad as a smoking habit, but there are real dangers. And when it comes to changing something that is considered the norm (like, say, smoking 50 years ago), educating people is the key. And you’re right; I guess facts aren’t really scare tactics!
Rob: I actually think that people are becoming more and more aware of the dangers and would like to change things up; they just can’t outfit a whole office with height-adjustable desks due to budgetary constraints. One part of the webinar that I really found enlightening involved Drew discussing various alternative applications. If a company can arrange a rotation for employees to “hotel” or enjoy an open campus-type arrangement with three or four sit-stand desks, everyone can start to experience the benefits of changing their work position. I particularly liked the idea of making a printer station or Bloomberg terminal — places that are heavily-trafficked in an office — accessible with a height-adjustable solution. These common tasks are performed every day and help people avoid a “honeymoon” period with their sit-stand desks.
Daniel: I agree Rob, and budget is always a concern, but sit/stand work stations are more affordable than ever before. An UpLift Electric Sit/Stand Desk Frame sells for less than $500 right now. Budgets aside though, pretty much any big change with office environment is going to have to start with small steps — baby steps, even. Drew pointed out that it’s going to take a “cultural shift” to get more offices to outfit they’re employees with sit-stand workstations. He compared it to wearing seat belts and recycling. I don’t see the government bringing in a “click it or ticket” type campaign, but education is the key to change, and word is getting out there. Health studies aside though, there’s no substitute for personal experience, and spending just a few minutes standing every hour, I feel like I have more energy and I can be more productive. If that cuts down on health risks like hypertension and diabetes, then that’s all just bonus!
Rob: You and I are pretty active guys, and I know I appreciate being able to stand up and move around when my legs are sore the day after a tough game or workout. I totally agree with you that it’s simply a matter of awareness: now that the value of sit-stand working is known, it’s time to make folks aware that there are economical ways to create a healthier work environment. Your “baby steps” concept is brilliant: a proper ergonomic setup can start with something as simple as a keyboard tray before moving on to a desktop workstation, eventually building to a proper sit-stand height-adjustable desk. A study that Honeywell performed internally found that 97% of their employees that switched to a sit-stand setup have stuck with it over a four year period. I know that I would feel awful if I had to switch full-time to a seated position; I’m definitely a convert!
Daniel: Yeah, I don’t think I could go back to a “regular” workstation either. May my sit-stand desk honeymoon never end! Also, it’s nice to hear someone besides me pointing out one of my concepts as brilliant.