A Case Study on Adjustable Height Desk Success Rates by Workforce Segment


Despite how trendy they may seem, standing desks have been around for quite some time. Historians recount that Leonardo da Vinci used standing desks for his brainstorms on “flying machines” while Thomas Jefferson employed a 6-legged “tall desk” with an adjustable top, and Ernest Hemingway stood while writing his masterpieces due to a nagging leg injury (Knighton, 2015). Given that standing rather than sitting appears more in line with our human evolution, it may seem surprising that adjustable height desks have yet to become the norm in workplaces. Innovant’s new case study yields insight into the reasons why certain workforce segments tend to have higher adjustable height desk (AHD) success rates while others don’t, the problem users face in AHD adoption, and how they may be overcome.

The wellness case for the AHD paints a rosy picture. The benefits range from the alleviation of back and joint pain to the improvement of conditions such as heart disease and Type II diabetes. Looking at the numbers, it would seem that the world believes it. A study from TowerEight indicates that online searches for standing desk information have increased by over threefold in the United States over the course of a year, from May 2016 to 2017 (Tower Eight, 2017). While this spike can result from a variety of reasons, it is plausible to believe that consumers are at least growing more curious about AHDs, which is usually the first sign that demand is picking up.

So, why does it seem that mostly deep-pocketed financial and tech giants are implementing AHDs in any meaningful way? In other words, with all the Googling going on, why aren’t three times as many people pulling the trigger?

Factors Impacting Adjustable Height Desk Success Rates

One possible reason for the demand stall is the questionable success of adjustable height desk adoption by users. Here are three major influences likely to determine the rate of AHD success or failure in the workplace.

Adjustable Height Desk Success Rates Factor #1: The Importance of Wellness to the Workforce There seems to be no consensus regarding the question of whether or not physical comfort really does drive productivity gains. According to an article by FastCompany, most studies have shown zero impact on worker productivity (Duffy, 2016).

Every workforce is different. While some more health-conscious groups may be thrilled by the ability to shed a sedentary existence, others may not be up for the fatigue that comes with standing for long periods of time. If a worker is in poor physical condition to begin with or has little regard for his or her own wellness, improved mobility may not be welcome. It may even create safety issues for some worker segments. For this reason, companies may hesitate to promote usage of the desks among worker populations.

In our study, we found that certain segments of the workforce population were more open to AHD usage than others. This knowledge will come in handy for managers who are uncertain about who to encourage to use the desks and who to leave alone.

Adjustable Height Desk Success Rates Factor #2: The Pink Slip Effect At most companies, dealing with Human Resources or the boss to put in a request for expensive office furniture is an awkward conversation. While some companies are more open to accommodating these desires, many are not. Some employees may fear that asking for an amenity that their counterparts do not have is asking for the pink slip. Likewise, unless a line manager can afford to give a sit to stand desk to every employee in the department, giving this perk to a select few may trigger accusations of favoritism.

Adjustable Height Desk Success Rates Factor #3: Sticker Shock There are many varieties of AHDs that corporate buyers can choose from, but whatever way you slice it an AHD is a noticeable investment. While standing desks tend to come in lower on the pricing scale, sit to stand desks can cost in the thousands per position. This creates all kinds of buyer questions about choosing the right type, knowing what to avoid, and how to justify the purchase to the higher ups when adjustable height desk success rates may not be high for all worker segments. For this reason, buyers may scale back and only purchase for a select population, perhaps misjudging the candidates and compromising success.


Adjustable Height Desk Success Rates Study Methodology

In our study, we monitored desk height position across every employee over the course of a year. At the time of our launch, the company, one of the largest commercial interior design firms in the world, had just furnished their new Chicago headquarters with Innovant’s award-winning FORm_office benching system. This granted full range, electric height adjustability to every single employee in each department.

Desk height was categorized into 4 unique positions: standing height, drafting (or stool) height, as well as high and low seated heights. Desk height positions were tracked in the mornings, midday and the afternoons. After tallying the results, we were able to provide usage rates and trends for each department and for the company as a whole.

Get the Lowdown on Adjustable Height Desk Success Rates

To view the full results and obtain a copy of our proprietary research study, Adjustable Height Desk Success Rates, please visit our opt in page.


Duffy, Jill. (July 15, 2016). The Truth About Standing Desks and Productivity. Fast Company. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3061782/the-truth-about-standing-desks-and-productivity

Knighton, Greg. (Feb 26, 2015). The Surprising History of Standing Desks. [Beyond the Office Door: The Breakroom Blog.] Retrieved from https://www.btod.com/blog/2015/02/26/the-surprising-history-of-standing-desks/

Tower Eight. Why Google Searches for ‘Standing Desks’ Have More Than Tripled in 12 Months. (May 16, 2017). Retrieved from https://www.towereight.com/google-searches-standing-desks-tripled-12-months/