Benefits of Standing While Working

Benefits of Standing While Working

Ergonomics
 — 
6
 Min read
 — 
December 15, 2020

Having a good workspace is more important than ever because it is where people spend the majority of their waking hours creating their greatest work.

Therefore, a good workspace should be one that is simple, intuitive and supports one’s productivity and well-being. 

One technology that was invented to improve well-being and productivity is the standing desk

A stand-up desk became popular after studies upon studies have proven that sitting for too long is detrimental to the body and mind.

These discoveries have changed the way people think about work. They realized that the number of sitting hours could affect the number of years in their lives. 

When the workspace equipment industry turned their heads to standing desks, a lot of people bought into the idea of ‘standing is better than sitting’ quite easily.

But is standing really the solution? And, why is sitting bad in the first place?

Why Is Prolonged Sitting Bad?

The human body is built to be up and moving, and to be seated when resting. But today, ‘sitting’ is the norm. People sit while working at a desk, commuting to work (sitting in a car or public transport), watching TV, surfing the internet, having meals, and other physically inactive pursuits. 

People who sat for long hours seem to have a higher risk of dying from all causes — even if they exercised. The risks were even higher in people who did little to no exercise at all. 

The reason is that sitting is part of an inactive lifestyle, which raises the risk of heart diseases, type-2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, and more.

Additionally, the brain is vulnerable to developing dementia and difficulty in remembering things due to long sitting hours.

Thanks to the researchers, people became more conscious of their chair time and started looking for ways to be more active while working without interrupting their productivity. 

And the next obvious choice seems to be standing while working.

Why Is Standing Good?

Standing while working could feel awkward for some people. For others, they might feel liberated from their chairs. 

When our team tried using a standing desk, they felt they breathe better, think sharper, and have more energy coursing throughout their bodies within a few hours.

This magical experience made us really curious about standing while working. We begin to question what are the benefits of standing and most importantly, how do we integrate this into our working hours.

So, here are the three greatest benefits of using a standing desk at work. 

3 Benefits Of Using A Standing Desk

1. Improved Brain Performance

Believe or not, standing improves brain performance, namely faster responses, better focus, and decision-making. 

A study of two groups of participants, one was standing and the other was sitting, were evaluated based on their performance in a psychological test known as the Stroop Color and Word test — a test to determine the ability to make decisions in the presence of interfering factors.

Here’s how the test goes. 

Name the colors of the following words. Say the color of the words, not reading the words. For example, if the word ‘blue’ is printed in red color, you should say ‘Red’. Say them as fast as you can.

At the end of the test, the standing group won by a hair, showing a 20 millisecond faster than the sitting group. While the difference may sound tiny, imagine the huge amount of things the brain has to decipher throughout the day. Multiply the 20 millisecond many times over and you get the accumulated effect of better brain performance.

What about adding in better memory and multitasking into the equation? The brain will experience a level-up, which in turn boosts work productivity.

2. Higher Productivity

Productivity is the equivalent of ‘less is more’. Spend less time working but generate an equal or better result compared to working longer hours.

If working less and getting paid more sounds good, standing while working can help increase productivity by 53% in 6 months

How does it work?

Standing helps keep energy levels well-balanced, preventing the mid-afternoon crash. Being on your feet also increases attentiveness, which aids focus and concentration.

Imagine being able to finish 3 hours’ worth of work in half the time and what you can do with the extra free time. 

3. Reduced Lower Back Pain

Typically, people slouch, round their shoulders, or lean towards the screen while working in front of a screen. This puts a lot of stress on the spine, resulting in lower back pain.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that lower back pain is a very common health problem worldwide and a major cause of disability. 

This is why it is essential to maintain a good posture while working. It improves blood flow, lessens headaches, increases energy levels, reduces tension in the shoulders and neck, and reduces lower back pain significantly


Ergonomics standing vs sitting

Well, what does a good posture look like?

A good sitting posture involves:

  • Sitting up straight and looking forward without stressing the neck,
  • Maintaining an L-shape in the arms,
  • Relaxing the shoulders,
  • Keeping both feet flat on the ground (or rest them on a footrest),
  • Maintaining a small gap between the back of the knees and the edge of the chair,
  • Keeping both knees at the same height, slightly lower than the hips,
  • Placing ankles right below the knees.

A good standing posture has:

  • An S-curve in the spine, heads right above the chest, and hips upright,
  • Both feet are hip-width apart and pressed firmly on the ground in all four corners,
  • Eyes are slightly tilted when looking at the screen,
  • Arms are in an L-shape,
  • Shoulders are relaxed.

A Better Alternative For Work-From-Home Workers

In a recent survey we did on our work-from-home colleagues, they implied that they move a lot less compared to working in an office. And it makes sense.

People would take breaks and chat at the watercooler to have some person-to-person interaction, but there is no one to talk to when they work from home (except virtual meetings). Hence, they take less breaks.

Commuting to their workspace used to take hundreds of steps but now, the work desk is only 10 feet away. 

People used to walk around the office area looking for a place for lunch, and now, their lunch is delivered straight to their doorstep.

This is why standing while working is especially crucial for work-from-home workers. 

But standing still for a long time can injure the knees and may strain and damage the joints, tendons, ligaments, and bones. 

Thankfully, there is a better way to work from home: changing between sit and stand throughout the day. 

When people use adjustable desks and change between standing and sitting frequently, they found that they experience less fatigue, less low back and neck pain, and even better moods

This is because changing between a sitting and standing position requires movement which is a key component in an active lifestyle. 

When it comes to timing, there is no one-size-fits-all. The rule of thumb is to change your position once every 30 minutes to 2 hours. If you feel pain in the knees or feet or feel like stretching, it is a sign to switch.


Conclusion

It is undeniable that standing while working has numerous benefits for the person physically, mentally, and emotionally. They can live longer, think faster, and enjoy a healthier spine. 

This is why it is important for work-from-home workers to incorporate standing into their schedules because they tend to move less compared to working in an office.

Even better, they can switch between sitting and standing throughout the day to introduce more movement into their lives. 

What can you do today to integrate more movements into your life? It can be as small as a one-minute stretch.


Like the article? Spread the word

your resource on modern working

We go in-depth on the techniques, topics and tools needed for a new era of flexible working.

Join a readership of active nomads, freelancers and independent professionals living the new ways of work.