Stand and deliver

August 28, 2013

A US firm has introduced standing desks. Do they stand up to scrutiny?












There was a time when the future was going to be ergonomic. Remember that?

We would rest well upon ergonomic beds, our heads perfectly angled on ergonomic pillows. We’d breakfast at ergonomic breakfast bars and float, as if on air, to our entirely ergonomic places of work, where we would smile contentedly at our ergonomically enhanced coworkers all day. When the day was done we would return to our ergonomic homes where we would ergonomically snuggle with our loved ones.

We were promised all kinds of ergonomic tomorrows. New desks, new seats, new keyboards. Pain we didn’t know we had would be gone and problems we didn’t know we struggled along with would be resolved. Everything ahead of us was going to be … somewhat more comfortable.

Then reality kicked in, and our beautifully ergonomic future wobbled, lurched over and collapsed into sawdust. The cost proved prohibitive for many companies and ergonomic kit seemed to become necessary only for those with an actual doctor’s note saying they had RSI.

But, don’t despair, because the brand-spanking new fad of ‘desking’ (for want of a better word) is here.

Standing orders

Introducing the standing desk. Yes, standing and desks have got together and gone all rock and roll. What is a standing desk? Well, it’s a desk, but it’s higher than a normal desk, so you stand at it as you work. A standing desk, do you see?

It’s a neat idea. Standing frees you up, and makes for more space in an office. There are some real converts to that way of working out there in the blogosphere who have claimed all kinds of wonderful long-term benefits to body, soul and workplace.

In fact, over in the States, Ohio firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP has introduced standing desks with added treadmills (if those treadmills aren’t powering the computers and lights, that firm is really missing a trick).

But, for anything above a couple of hours, is it really going to improve your health, happiness and workplace experience? If you slump or hunch in a chair, you are just as likely to slouch and lean if you’re standing up. If you have a disability, prolonged (or any) standing could be out of the question and you’ll get to spend all day looking wearily at the groins of your co-workers.

Aficionados of standing desks say that sitting is bad for you, but standing badly can do just as much damage. The ground is farther away, as well, should you have a funny turn. In which case, you’ll just have to hope the floor is ergonomic, too. KW

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