Boosting productivity at work may be simple: Stand up

I have only become aware of the dangers of prolonged sitting in the past year. Prior to that I lived on an island of ignorance. Now,  however, I have my Apple watch to remind me stand and move around every hour or so. You can explore the risks of sitting too long on my Page – Do you know the dangers of too much sitting?

Standing desks have been around for a while and are another method of addressing the sitting too long problem. Seems that they may also be useful in boosting production.

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Most people have heard the argument that standing desks are good for the body. They can help burn more calories and fight obesity. Standing can even help improve students’ attention and cognitive functioning. Now, new research from the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health indicates that they may boost productivity in adults as well.

The researchers examined the productivity differences between two groups of call center employees over the course of six months and found that those with stand-capable workstations–those in which the worker could raise or lower the desk to stand or sit as they wished throughout the day–were about 46 percent more productive than those with traditional, seated desk configurations.

Productivity was measured by how many successful calls workers completed per hour at work. Based on work related to this study in a previous publication, workers in the stand-capable desks sat for about 1.6 hours less per day than the seated desk workers.
The study was published yesterday in the journal IIE Transactions on Occupational Ergonomics and Human Factors.

“We hope this work will show companies that although there might be some costs involved in providing stand-capable workstations, increased employee productivity over time will more than offset these initial expenses,” said Mark Benden, Ph.D., C.P.E., associate professor at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, director of the Texas A&M Ergonomics Center and member of the Center for Remote Health Technologies and Systems, and one of the authors of the study.

“One interesting result of the study is that the productivity differences between the stand-capable and seated groups were not as large during the first month,” said Gregory Garrett, M.A., a public health doctoral student and a lead author of the study. “Starting with the second month, we began to see larger increases in productivity with the stand-capable groups as they became habituated to their standing desks.”

In addition to helping the bottom line of the company, standing during the day can improve worker health. Nearly 75 percent of those working at stand-capable workstations experienced decreased body discomfort after using these desks for the six-month duration of the study.

“We believe that decreases in body discomfort may account for some of the productivity differences between the two groups,” Garrett said. “However, standing desks may have an impact on cognitive performance, which is the focus of some of our research going forward.”

Benden cautioned that the research did not employ a random sample. All 74 employees with stand-capable workstations had been on the job for one to three months, while the 93 workers with more longevity–one year or more at the company–acted as the control group and remained seated throughout the day. “Still, we believe that the fact the new employees had at least one full month on the job, in addition to 60 days of training, before we began measuring, was more than enough to minimize ‘experience variation’ between the groups,” Benden said. “This design also eliminates volunteerism bias, which increases the generalizability of the study results.” In other words, the fact that employees were assigned a particular workstation, instead of being able to choose which one they preferred, means there wasn’t some underlying factor that made some people both more efficient and more likely to request a standing desk.

“This research is a breakthrough in measuring productivity impacts of office workers, as this population of call center workers was directly tied to very objective data on their productivity,” Benden said. “Now that we have this type of finding, we will search for more creative ways to find objective productivity measures for other types of office workers in both traditional seated environments and the newer stand-capable environments.”

Tony

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12 Comments

Filed under productivity, Uncategorized

12 responses to “Boosting productivity at work may be simple: Stand up

  1. I have been hearing a lot about the health hazards of sitting too long and two of my co-workers now have stand up deaks.

    I am getting ready to do a series of guest posts that will go up while I am on vacation and I thought readers would enjoy this.

    If you are interested, let me know and I will give you author permissions on the blog.

    God bless,

    James

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Have you seen those little bike pedals you can put underneath of your desk? I kind of like those as an option to be more active too because they can be slightly less obtrusive than bulky standing desks but I love standing desks!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One still needs to question whether those who sit for prolonged periods (1) do so with poor posture, (2) lead sedentary lifestyles, (3) eat improperly, (4) suffer from high stress levels, (5) drink insufficient amounts of water and (6) experience poor sleep. As we’ve discussed in the past, research design is often preconceived to attain a desired outcome. I do believe that getting up and moving is beneficial, but I believe the other aspects mentioned in this comment are more important.
    It is my opinion that prolonged sitting will do less harm if people are willing to incorporate the lifestyle changes needed to promote healthy living.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes! Standing, when done properly, is the best for health and productivity. People thinks it means standing in one spot for hours, but really positions should be constantly shifted as well as stepping away to move around every now and then.

    Before I left work to be an at-home dad, I fought to get my desk converted to standing in the office I worked in. I got it, and I was the only one on the floor standing. Got lots of stares, but felt soooo much better! Now I just have a cardboard box on my kitchen island with my laptop on top as my “standing desk”. It’s been over 2 years and I’m doing great. Love this post!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh yeah ! 👍✅✨❣

    Like

  6. We have standing desks where I work – they are basically normally desks where you can press a button to adjust it to standing. They are really good. My only issues are 1) I struggle to get a comfortable height which doesn’t hurt my wrists and 2) usually I am quite active so I actually want to sit down 3) I only get to use the desks rarely as they are usually covered with the stubborn sitters who always want the same desk (even though we are in a hot desking environment). I don’t know if it improved my productivity though, with the added height I was able to nosey across all my other co-workers desks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Looks like there’s a gap in the market for stand-capable workstations! I’ve never seen one in an office in the UK, although it’s a few years since I’ve worked in one. I suspect they have them in advertising and media agencies, that kind of place.

    It makes perfect sense to stand up when possible and get the blood flowing! I work from home so make sure I walk around on a regular basis. Plus I run up and down the stairs many times throughout the day, mainly to let the cats in and out of the house. They have us very well trained obviously! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing. Good idea about standing up often and helping your circulation. I am a big fan of stair climbing. Be careful about running down the stairs, though. It gives your knees a beating. I live in a high rise, so I can climb the stairs and then take the elevator down.

      Liked by 1 person

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