Posts tagged standing desk
Are You Endangering Your Employees’ Health?

by Rieva Lesonsky

With companies of all sizes seeking to cut healthcare costs and avoid penalties imposed by the Affordable Care Act, we’re hearing lots of news about instituting workplace wellness programs as a way to promote a healthier workforce.

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Workplace practices such as ergonomic office spaces, meditation, mid-day naps, standing desks and walking meetings are being put forth as ways to create a healthier workforce.

Healthier employees benefit business in many ways. They take fewer sick days, are more productive, visit the doctor less often and are less likely to have chronic health conditions that cause their and, in turn, your business’s health insurance rates to rise.

That’s why the news in a study from Employers, an insurance specialist, is so disheartening. It reports that small companies are less likely than big ones to promote healthy workplace practices. Specifically:

  • 77 percent of small businesses don’t offer employees non-traditional seating options such as stand-up desks, treadmill desks or balance balls
  • 29 percent of small business owners say their employees typically sit for more than an hour at a time during the workday

The study points out that jobs are becoming increasingly sedentary and notes research showing that sitting for too long can increase the risk of obesity, heart disease and other health problems.

Consider the greater productivity you could achieve when your employees are more alert and energized. Reminding everyone to get up and stretch once an hour via the intercom or an on-screen alert on their computers can make a huge difference in health and energy levels.

Employees who work on computers most of the day should have the ergonomic equipment (desk chairs, keyboards, wrist rests and other devices) to provide a comfortable setting. Otherwise, their productivity will suffer and they could easily develop repetitive stress injuries that would rightly be cause for worker’s compensation claims.

Some small employers are also ignoring basic mental and physical health issues for employees. One-fourth of hourly and salaried employees of small companies report going three or four hours without taking a break, while 42 percent don’t use their allotted time off each year.

Taking regular, short breaks is not only crucial to refreshing employee energy, preventing errors and possibly dangerous accidents, but is also required by law for many workers. If you aren’t letting employees take breaks when they’re legally entitled, you could be setting yourself up for lawsuits.

Encouraging employees to use their time off also has benefits for you and them. For one thing, when employees who never take time off finally quit, you could end up owing them a huge chunk of wages for the time off they didn’t use. In the shorter term, of course, you’re dealing with employees who are burned out and less effective because they’re not getting any downtime.

Ignoring employee wellness not only puts their health at risk, but puts your business at risk too. That’s downright unhealthy, especially when the remedies are so easy.

Originally published on smallbiztrends.com, February 2015.

6 Things You Need to Do to Fix Your Posture
imageMany of us had our mothers bugging us for years to stand up straight. While the nagging may have been annoying, they probably had a point. Having good posture not only makes you look better and improves confidence, but it helps with breathing and circulation, decreases muscle spasms, and even helps your mood.

“When someone is confident and in a winning mood, they bring their shoulders back, their head over their shoulders and their arms raised up,” says Marvin C. Lee, a chiropractor in Los Angeles. “Good posture can promote these feelings.”

With so many people sitting at their desks for the majority of the day, bad posture has become commonplace. Having bad posture can negatively affect your body, including your back, jaw, hips, and knees. This can cause a lot of pain, along with long-term damage.

“We as humans were never meant to evolve into such sedentary creatures,” says Lee. “The prolonged sitting, hunched over our phones and computers, contributes a lot to our poor postures.”

It is not too late. Just because you have bad posture now doesn’t mean you can’t fix the way you stand. Strengthening the proper muscles and focusing on how you sit and stand can help you attain proper alignment. If you find yourself constantly slumped over, consider trying some of the following tips for better posture.

1. GET UP AND MOVE

“Get up at least once an hour to go to the bathroom, bust out a quick set of stretches, or get yourself a glass of water,” says Lee. Staying hunched over at your desk can cause bad posture, so any chance you have to move around, take it.

2. SWITCH TO A STANDING DESK

While this may not be possible for everyone, getting a standing desk allows you to stay upright while you’re working and avoid the slouched-over position that’s so detrimental to our alignment.

3. TRAIN YOUR MUSCLES

By taking up a regular exercise regimen, you can train your body to not only be stronger, but to hold itself up properly. “Be diligent about proper posture while working out so you can train the proper muscles to hold that posture while you are at rest,” says Dr. Matt DeLeva, another chiropractor in Los Angeles.

4. DO A DESK STRETCH

There are many stretches you can do while seated at your desk that incorporate the shoulders, neck, back, and legs. Try a simple hamstring stretch or an easy twist to keep your muscles from tensing up in the same position all day.

5. TAKE UP YOGA

Many yoga poses incorporate back stretches, strengthen your core, and help with relaxation and flexibility. Yoga also helps bring more awareness to your body, which can help you pay attention to how you carry yourself.

6. CHANGE THE WAY YOU SIT

You can have the nicest and most ergonomic chair, but if you are sitting improperly in it, your posture will be affected. “Try lifting your chair or putting a pad under you so that your knees are lower than your hips,” says DeLeva. This will keep the correct curvature in your back and neck.

Originally published on Bustle, November 2014.

5 Workspace Trends to Look for This Year

image1. A Balance Between Public & Private

Though office spaces are becoming more collaborative, private areas are still required for phone calls, closed-door meetings, or focus work. Many companies are mixing up their space design—incorporating open desks and impromptu break areas, as well as small meeting spaces, phone booths, and conference rooms to support the various types of work that are required in a given day.

2. A Breakdown of Barriers

With more CEOs and senior managers moving out of private offices and into the open floor environment, the hierarchy of working relationships has shifted. This transparency encourages collaboration and community for everyone across the organizational chart. Sharing the floor also allows management to stay involved, know what’s going on and participate in a more meaningful way.

3. A Focus on Employee Health

We’ve all heard the news: sitting is the new smoking. In addition to the physical pain associated with slumping over computers all day, research has proven that sedentary lifestyles take a toll on health. Thus, more employers are encouraging employees to move throughout their day.

Popular desk alternatives include adjustable and standing height desks. Other than the health benefits gained by using this furniture, many companies suggest that greater creativity and a freer flow of ideas have been seen among employees who stand while working. Other chair substitutes including bosu balls and treadmill desks. In addition to furniture alternatives, companies are also promoting physical health through office design, including bicycle storage and spaces for quick workouts or stretching.

4. Collaborative Spaces

Breakout zones also encourage employees to collaborate outside the boundaries of meeting rooms. These playful gathering spaces that promote socialization lead to encounters among individuals from separate departments who may not usually interact.

5. The Workplace as a Home Away from Home

Many workspaces are becoming more casual, adopting a homey aesthetic. Rather than stiff chairs, formal desks and closed doors, today’s workplaces are incorporating breakout areas with cozy seating. These areas gives employees the opportunity to “create experiences that energize and inspire.” Employers therefore give employees options for a variety of comfortable yet productive environments to encourage longer work hours.

Content via Fast Company, January 8, 2015.

The Ideal Sit to Stand Balance at Work

By Jenna Birch

imageWe live in a sedentary culture, where most of us spend ample time each day sitting in front of a computer screen at work. Numerous studies in the past decade have shown us this is less than ideal, and too much time kicking back can lead to disability in later life, double the risk of developing diabetes and shorter lifespan.  

This has given rise to the standing desk, where users can raise and lower their work surfaces with a simple button, which has seen a 50 percent sales jump in one year’s time. However, experts say they think people are getting the wrong message about what’s actually going to improve health.

“Standing all day isn’t the answer,” says Alan Hedge, design and ergonomics professor at Cornell. “That’s where we were 100 years ago, and we needed to develop chairs to prevent curvature of the spine, backaches, and varicose veins.”

And while you may have heard that standing helps you burn more calories, it’s not as many as you think. Sitting burns roughly 1 MET energy, while standing burns 1.3 MET. (As a comparison, taking a jog will burn around 7 MET.) “The calorie burn difference between standing and sitting is so small, it probably won’t make much difference in terms of weight loss,” says Dr. I-Min Lee, an associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who also studies sedentary behavior risk.

So it makes sense why treadmill desks are such a thing now, but let’s face it: many of us would be pretty inefficient on the job if we were also using a treadmill desk. So, right now, experts say the major fix for your health is this: movement during the day. Hedge says you should not sit at your desk for more than 20 minutes without taking a break, or stand for more than eight minutes, making sure to take two two-minute breaks per hour. Stretch. Walk around a bit. Get some coffee. Pace through a phone call. Just move!

So, here’s the rundown: Don’t sit for more than 20 minutes at a time. Don’t stand for more than 8 minutes at a time. Move for 2 minutes twice per hour to give your body a break.

Content originally published on Self.com, November 4, 2014.

I Think, Ergo I Stand

By Bara Vaida

imageEvery week, ergonomics expert July Landis walks into offices and observes workers slouching in their chairs and leaning over keyboards with hunched shoulders. Some are straining their necks to view too-high computer monitors and others are awkwardly twisting their bodies to grab their phone or read documents.

She sees recipes for pain.

“There are all kinds of ways that people, without realizing it, are doing things to injure themselves at work,” says Landis, president and CEO of Ergo Concepts, a suburban Germantown, Maryland ergonomics consulting firm hired by large and small companies to create pain-free office environments.

Every year, about 1 million people strain their necks, hurt their backs or sprain their wrists so badly that they need serious medical attention and can’t return to work for days, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That lost work time and the medical costs relating to treating disabling workplace injuries cost U.S. businesses more than $20 billion in 2011, according to a 2013 report by Liberty Mutual Insurance, a Boston-based company that analyzes federal ergonomics data to create its national Workplace Safety Index.

Further, new research shows that the amount of time people spend sitting is causing injury to their health. Adults who sit for more than four hours a day, compared with those who sit for just two hours, have a 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause and a 125 percent increased risk of health problems related to cardiovascular disease, says James Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic.

“Sitting is the new smoking,” says Landis.

Whiles some smaller companies and single-individual-run businesses may feel they don’t have the money or time for ergonomics, there are quantifiable savings, says Bruce Lyon, director of risk control at the Hays Companies, an employee-benefits brokerage firm based in Kansas City, Missouri. For every $1 that a company spends on workplace safety, its return on investment is about $4 to $6, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates.

“Employers and employees often don’t think of sitting as dangerous,” says Lyon. “But if you are static and sitting in an incorrect posture for an extended period, that constricts blood flow. Eventually, the restriction causes soft tissue damage, and for some it can be debilitating.”

To prevent injuries, Landis, a physical therapist by training, and her staff help companies purchase ergonomically correct office equipment and provide evaluation and training to employees. They teach how body positions and daily work activities can lead to the development of chronic pain.

“There is no one-size-fits-all method of pieces of equipment,” says Landis, whose company has consultants in 45 U.S. cities. “You have to evaluate each person’s height, weight and body type, whether they are right- or left-handed, the amount of time they are sitting in front of a computer, and then, through a collaborative discussion, tailor a solution to that person.”

Consistent themes do arise. For example, in a recent evaluation visit to the American Institutes for Research (AIR) in Washington, D.C., Landis worked with Sohni Anand and Chris Graham. Anand suffered from chronic, tingling neck pain, while Graham had occasional lower back pain. After talking and watching while they worked, Landis spotted the problems: incorrectly positioned chairs, computer monitors, keyboards and feet. She gave both AIR employees lessons on using and positioning their equipment, and then offered advices on ways to stay active during the day.

A half hour after Landis had made the fixes, Anand said, “I already feel better.”

Originally published in the Costco Connection, August 2014.

You May Want to Take a Seat (or Not)

by Scott Spector

Approximately a decade ago, the first adjustable-height desks hit the market. These “sit/stand” alternatives to traditional office seating could be manually adjusted or, with the help of an electric motor and push of a button, shifted according to a worker’s needs and preferences. They were intriguing, but costly, as they were considered specialty items.

Over the past few years, and even as recently as the last few weeks, a number of studies have come out pointing to the health detriments of sitting too much, from back and neck pain to increased risk of organ damage and circulatory issues. Experts from the National Institute of Health, Mayo Clinic and more began speaking out about the benefits of motion. Companies, in turn, are starting to listen.

How do I know? This summer alone I’ve encountered several clients who have asked about incorporating adjustable-height desks and other seating alternatives into their office design. Our firm recently completed a project where 20 percent of the office’s desks were adjustable. In addition to clients proactively approaching us, we’re also bringing adjustable-height desks up as part of the programming and workplace strategy reviews and it’s an option they are increasingly selecting. And it’s not just social media and tech firms that are buying into the trend. While not as widespread, some financial services and creative firms are embracing these alternatives and weaving them into the furniture choices they make.

As these options become more commonplace and readily available from office furniture manufacturers, they also become more cost-effective and better. Like any other technology–think of the iPhone or flat screen televisions–now that they’ve been on the market for some time, the price has gone down and the products themselves have vastly improved, thanks in part to user feedback and testing.

Solutions, however, are not limited to adjustable-height desks. There is a plethora of mobile desks on the market, which can allow the wireless worker to roll his laptop and workspace from one meeting area to the next, a model known as activity-based working. VaynerMedia, on Park Avenue South, has successfully used this option for a portion its office furniture plan. Mobile desks, hoteling and benching all allow for greater flexibility, particularly for firms whose workers travel several months out of the year for their jobs (think accountants who spend four months of the year auditing internally at a company before returning to their desks). Mobile and sit/stand desks better utilize space and square footage–a huge benefit for companies.

Whether it’s incorporating ergonomic workstations, placing stairs between two floors to encourage workers to get up, move around and interact, or other wellness measures such as spacious pantries and outdoor meeting areas for employees to get daylight and fresh air, it’s clear that healthy, flexible workplaces have made their way into the mainstream.

Originally published on the Commercial Observer, July 14, 2014.

How to Help Counteract the Negative Effects of Sitting All Day

imageTo help track and engage in the daily activity that can limit the negative effects of sitting, start by finding your daily baseline with a pedometer. Whether with a pedometer, Fitbit, or even a phone app, take a 30-minute walk and see how many steps you take. This number will vary based on how quickly you walk and how large your steps are.

Next, you want to find a baseline of your daily activity. Start using the pedometer when you first wake up in the morning and keep it in your pocket, on your wrist, or running on your phone until you go to bed. This will give you an estimate of your regular daily activity. For some, this may be frighteningly low on the days without purposeful exercise.

To help meet your daily activity target, all it takes is a slight alteration to your behavior. Here are a few ideas for how to do it without really trying:

  • Park near the back of the parking lot.
  • Stand up to visit the file cabinet instead of rolling your chair.
  • Walk over and talk to a coworker instead of emailing them.
  • Take the scenic route to the bathroom instead of the most direct.

Meeting your target activity level is just the first step. The second is much simpler and only requires you stand up now and again.

You can reduce the negative effects of sitting all day just by standing up for one or two minutes every hour. Technically, you don’t even have to move, the act of standing alone helps. Since this may be difficult to remember while focused on your work, so it helps to set an hourly reminder. For Mac users, click Settings > Date & Time > Announce the time. Windows users can set up a similar hourly reminder as a task by clicking Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Task Scheduler.

If the alarm isn’t enough, you can download dedicated software to remind you. Windows users can use free programs like, Workrave or Breaker to set up automated alerts. For Macs, Time Out seems the best free option. These programs will remind you to stand and dim the desktop to force you out of your chair.

It’s up to you how you use these micro-breaks. You don’t even have to move if you don’t want to, but if you want to squeeze in a little activity, here’s a quick way to do it without leaving your desk area:

  • Stand up.
  • March in place for twenty seconds.
  • Reach down and try to touch your toes for twenty seconds.
  • Wander around and pick up or reorganize for the last twenty seconds (eventually your desk area may even be clean).

Remember: stand up once an hour and get at least 30 minutes of purposeful activity in a day. Those two simple choices will help counteract the negative effects of sitting.

Originally published on Lifehacker, January 26, 2012.

How Sitting All Day Is Damaging Your Body & How You Can Counteract It

If you sit in an office chair or on your couch for more than six hours a day, then here are some disturbing facts: Your risk of heart disease has increased by up to 64 percent. You’re shaving off seven years of quality life. You’re also more at risk for certain types of cancer. Simply put, sitting is killing you. That’s the bad news. The good news: It’s easy to counteract.

Our bodies were simply not meant to sit all day. Sitting for long periods of time, even with exercise, has a negative effect on our health. What’s worse, many of us sit up to 15 hours a day, which means that some of us spend the bulk of our waking moments on the couch, in an office chair, or in a car. Though sitting all day isn’t hard to counteract, you have to keep your eye on two details: your daily activity and the amount of time you sit.

It is difficult to get an accurate assessment of what sitting all day will do to a person because of the various factors (like diet) that affect health. However, based on a relatively healthy person (who does not drink in excess, smoke, and who isn’t overweight) the following estimates are reflective of what sitting for over six hours a day can do to the body.

1. Immediately after sitting the electrical activity in your muscles slows down and your calorie-burning rate drops to one calorie per minute. This is about a third of what it does if you’re walking. If you sit for a full 24-hour period, you experience a 40 percent reduction in glucose uptake in insulin, which can eventually cause type 2 diabetes.

2. After a few days of sitting for more than six hours a day, your body increases plasma triglycerides (fatty molecules), LDL cholesterol (aka bad cholesterol), and insulin resistance. With a sedentary lifestyle, your muscles aren’t taking in fat and your blood sugar levels go up, putting you at risk for weight gain. After just two weeks your muscles start to atrophy and your maximum oxygen consumption drops. This makes stairs harder to climb and walks harder to take. Even if you were working out every day the deterioration starts the second you stop moving.

3. After one year of sitting more than six hours a day, the longer term effects of sitting can start to manifest subtly. According to this study by Nature, you might start to experience weight gain and high cholesterol. Studies in woman suggest you can lose up to 1 percent of bone mass a year by sitting for over six hours a day.

4. After 10-20 years of sitting more than six hours a day, you can cut away about seven quality adjusted life years (the kind you want). It increases your risk of dying of heart disease by 64 percent and your overall risk of prostate or breast cancer increases 30 percent.

Though this list looks incredibly grim, there are two simple actions which can be performed to counteract the negative effects of sitting for extended periods of time:

1. Remember to stand once an hour.
2. Get about 30 minutes of activity per day.

Whether you’re a couch potato watching hours of TV at a time, or an office worker sitting in front of a computer, an Australian study suggests short breaks from sitting once an hour can alleviate most of the problems described above. This isn’t about working out (which is positive, but doesn’t completely counteract the effects of long periods of sitting alone). It’s about creating pockets of moderate activity throughout the day and giving your body a respite from sitting. Moderate activity is equivalent to a brisk walk, which would include yard work or cleaning your house — anything that gets you moving counts. Whether taken in a single 30 minute chunk or broken up throughout the day (in the recommended 10 minute intervals), these bursts of activity can help build up endurance and alleviate the strain of sitting.

Please check back for specific tips to help track and engage in the daily activity that can curb the damage of sitting.

Content originally published on Lifehacker, January 26, 2012.

Standing up for Productivity, Comfort and Health

imageImage: News 13

As discussed in a previous post on the history of standing desks, the old practice of working at a standing height desk has begun making its way back in vogue. Though much of today’s conversations have focused on the application of desks for standing in the workplace, a buzz has begun around applications in educational settings.

A Florida school has adopted the standing desk trend by deploying adjustable height desks on castors in Melissa Irving’s fourth grade classroom. This furniture decision was motivated by the same reasons for standing in the workplace: productivity, comfort and health.

Sitting for hours in the classroom or office is completely counterproductive to learning and working. One of the many hazards of sitting for extended periods of time is the negative effect on the brain. When people are sedentary for a long time, everything slows, including brain function. On the other hand, moving muscles pumps fresh blood and oxygen through the brain, which triggers the release of both brain- and mood-enhancing chemicals. These chemical contribute to a person’s productivity and creativity. 

Ms. Irving has “seen a marked change in her students ever since the desks made their [classroom] debut.” Not only have students begun to feel more alert and involved in class, but they have also experienced a new level of comfort. Students who now have the option to sit or stand no longer struggle to stay still at their desks. The same goes for people in the workplace who now have a range of options for finding a comfortable way to work.

Remember this the next time you struggle to find focus or comfort while working. Take a stand.

Launching S4A, Innovant’s new height adjustable benching system this June at NeoCon!  
 To schedule a time to meet with one of our representatives please email  info@innovant.com  or call 212 929 4883. 
 Space 7-4093 7th Floor (Right outside the Elevator Between 3Form & Dyson) 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza Chicago IL 60654

Launching S4A, Innovant’s new height adjustable benching system this June at NeoCon!

To schedule a time to meet with one of our representatives please email info@innovant.com or call 212 929 4883.

Space 7-4093 7th Floor (Right outside the Elevator Between 3Form & Dyson) 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza Chicago IL 60654

Trading Places - Seminar with Charles Braham, Joe Du Temple, and Charlie Du Temple Monday June 11th 1 - 2pm  
 We are excited to annouce that Charles Braham, President of Innovant Inc., will be speaking at Neocon. He will be accompanying panel members Joe and Charlie Du Temple of ESD Global in addressing the impact of high density technology on space design and construction. They will also discuss how to accommodate technology within and above a desk while insuring that the mechanical infrastructure and ergonomic requirements are met. 
 The attendees will gain a knowledge on trading desk - open plan design and how it relates to accommodating an extensive list of technology requirements. They will also gain an understanding of how to best position the process of ‘desk’ design into a project, and finally what team disciplines are needed to make the project a success.

Trading Places - Seminar with Charles Braham, Joe Du Temple, and Charlie Du Temple Monday June 11th 1 - 2pm

We are excited to annouce that Charles Braham, President of Innovant Inc., will be speaking at Neocon. He will be accompanying panel members Joe and Charlie Du Temple of ESD Global in addressing the impact of high density technology on space design and construction. They will also discuss how to accommodate technology within and above a desk while insuring that the mechanical infrastructure and ergonomic requirements are met.

The attendees will gain a knowledge on trading desk - open plan design and how it relates to accommodating an extensive list of technology requirements. They will also gain an understanding of how to best position the process of ‘desk’ design into a project, and finally what team disciplines are needed to make the project a success.