The research is in. Standing at your desk does really boost productivity during the day.
Those of us who use a standing desk already know how much they fuel productivity. Your body was never meant to sit all day, and now there is some new research to prove it.
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According to a study conducted by Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health and released today, call center workers who could stand for periods of time using a stand-up desk made more calls throughout the day. In the control group studied over six months, the workers with a standing desk like this model from Steelcase I tested a few months ago sat 1.6 hours less during the day.
"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 spokesperson Mark Benden, Ph.D., C.P.E. who directs the lab, as quoted in in a press release.
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Of the workers who could stand during the day on a regular basis, 75% said they had fewer body aches during the day. Another surprise was that the productivity gains kept increasing with each passing month. At first, standing did not increase their call rates. But by the second month, they were more productive due to the decrease in body discomfort and joint pains, according to the researchers.
I'm already an advocate for these products, even though they tend to cost about twice as much as a normal desk (unless you shop at IKEA, then they cost 10x as much). A normal desk might cost around $800 but a standing desk might cost $1800.
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Yet, one of the main points the researchers made is that, if you add up the total hours of increased work for the more productive workers who have an option to stand, it more than makes up the difference. It's also a good investment in employee morale.
I've tested a model called the Rebel Desk 1000, the Steelcase Ology, and I'm currently typing this from a LifeSpan Treadmill Desk. These models all offer wildly different features. The Rebel Desk converts to a normal desk as well but has fairly basic features for speed and a manual crank to adjust the height. The Ology also lowers to a sitting position and uses electronic controls for adjusting height, but only the LifeSpan model uses a Bluetooth app that tracks your steps and health.
One of my major findings with these desks: You have to allow some time to let your body adjust to standing and even walking if you choose a treadmill desk. It took me a good month before I felt I could easily type on a laptop for even an hour. Few people stand all day. Most of the stand-up desk companies recommend standing for periods of time throughout the day. If you do use a treadmill, you'll have to adjust even more to the fact that the desk might shake slightly and, since you're moving constantly, you have to learn how to type while walking, which takes a few weeks.
Another point to make is that these desks are designed to help you stay active and avoid body discomfort and aches during the day. They fuel your energy and, at least for me, made me more creative. Yet, they are not designed for actual fitness regimens. You can't walk or run fast enough to lose weight, although any activity will help in that regard. They are not for a workout. Most of the benefits are in getting your body moving and not being quite so planted at a desk. If you end up getting one, please report back to me on whether you boost your productivity.
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