A standing desk is an essential piece of furniture for any company or freelancer. Indeed, several scientific studies have shown that back pain, neck tenderness, diabetes, and obesity are common health problems among people who work in a sitting position for long hours; and despite their high cost, standing desks are one of the best solutions to these problems.
If you are considering purchasing a standing desk in the UK, it is important to consider the pros and cons of this type of desk before investing. And in this article, we are happy to share with you the pros and cons of standing desks.
What is a standing desk?
In case you're not familiar with the concept, a standing desk is a new type of desk that allows you to work or play while sitting in your chair, as well as standing. And thanks to its design (manual, electric), features and accessories, you can switch between sitting and standing position in seconds.
Pros of standing desks
People are meant to move, not sit for long periods of time. Exercise is necessary for good blood circulation in the body and to reduce muscle fatigue. According to many recent studies, people need to move at least five minutes per hour to avoid the health issues related to a sedentary lifestyle. And thanks to an electric standing desk (or manual desk), you can easily change your posture (sit, stand) during your working day with the push of a button, and therefore enjoy the advantages below.
1. Reduces the risk of being overweight
Working in a standing position demands more effort from your body. By alternating between the sitting and standing position at work, you burn more calories than when you work seated.
Indeed, when you sit, your body burns an average of 1.5 calories per minute; and the number of calories burned is three times higher when standing (1). This will have a direct positive impact on your weight loss effort. Moreover, according to an article published by the University of Chester, working in the standing position for 3 hours per day can help you burn an extra 144 calories each day (2).
Therefore, the more sedentary you are, the higher the risk of becoming overweight. So, use a standing desk to continue working more efficiently while burning more calories.
2. Increase your flexibility
When you work in a standing position, your body is constantly in motion. That's because your entire body is involved, from your feet to your back, neck and shoulders. By working in a standing position, you also reduce the risk of physical problems such as headaches and back and neck pain in the short and long term. However, standing all day is not the answer either - the best solution is to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. A sit stand desk (standing desks) encourages you to do this.
3. Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
Prolonged sitting affects blood circulation. This can be seen in the swollen feet of some people who sit for long periods of time. By getting up regularly thanks to a standing desk, you will improve blood circulation throughout your body. This will have a direct impact on your cardiovascular system. In fact, studies have shown that people who spend a lot of time in a seated position develop more risk of heart problems (3). They are therefore more exposed to vascular and cardiac accidents compared to people who are less sedentary.
4. Increased cognitive performance
Did you know that your intellectual capacities can increase by up to 20% when you are standing? Indeed, working in a standing position helps your blood circulate more efficiently, so your brain absorbs more oxygen. This increases your ability to concentrate (and think), which in turn leads to an improvement in your creative ability. As a positive consequence, your troubleshooting skills improve and you are able to perform better (4).
Moreover, a worker who moves regularly is less tired and feels more comfortable in the workplace. An employee who is in good health will not be bothered by back problems, headaches, etc. In a better mental state, we are more motivated and this will be reflected in the quality of our work.
Thus, despite a stressful day, with an adjustable desk, any professional will remain alert and focused. He will be able to make quick and better decisions. Thanks to a standing desk (stand up desk), you can easily switch from a sitting to standing position and vice versa. Investing in standing desks therefore means indirectly impacting our emotional and mental health and therefore our bottom line.
5. Preventing back problems
To prevent back problems, opt for a height adjustable desk. This will not only protect your spine, but also your knees and ankles.
According to a 2012 study, a standing desk can help reduce neck and back pain by half. The use of a standing desk is therefore a good idea, because it keeps your body dynamic and avoids crushing the lumbar region under your weight.
6. Invest in the long term
Today, we realise that the most important way to increase well-being is to increase movement. The people of the United Kingdom have understood this, and for some time now, the adjustable desk has been a classic in office design. Companies (and freelancers) who adopt this strategy and invest in sit-stand desks gain motivation and dynamism from their staff (and themselves).
As you can see, adjustable height desks offer a myriad of benefits in terms of avoiding health problems, both minor and serious. They also improve user's productivity and concentration levels. Investing in height adjustable desks will save you money and make you more money in the long run.
7. The benefits to teamwork
Indeed, team meetings are made easier with a standing desk. And yes, it has been proven that people communicate better in a standing position rather than sitting. The voice is fuller, more dynamic and, consequently, more convincing. All of this leads to an improvement in the overall performance of the meeting. You could save precious minutes at each meeting and thus save hours over the week. Moreover, standing up promotes conviviality between individuals. Colleagues are more willing to exchange with each other and this strengthens the team cohesion within your company.
Cons of standing desks
Some of the most common disadvantages of standing desks are the following:
1. Sore feet
It is perfectly normal to have sore feet and sore joints when you first use standing desks. This is because your body is adjusting to this new lifestyle. You should try to move around when using standing desks instead of standing in one place all the time. A standing desk floor mat can help with that - learn more about why a standing desk mat is helpful here.
2. They require comfortable shoes
Whenever you are standing for a long period of time, try not to wear high heels. Try to wear more comfortable shoes like flats or shoes with comfortable soles.
In most cases, a standing desk will be more expensive than a regular desk.
Sitting at your desk all day increases the risk of diabetes, heart diseases and decreases life expectancy. Fortunately, height adjustable desks (electric desk, or manual desk) can alleviate these health problems and improve your productivity. To do this, however, you need to set it up correctly and optimally adjust the height that will suit each user. Moreover, the addition of standing accessories, such as stools, offer advantages for the optimal alternation between sitting and standing.
Frequently asked questions.
How do I choose a standing desk?
The first step in choosing a sit-stand desk is to make sure you have enough space. As is the case with any other type of desk, you will have to pay close attention to the dimensions of the desk to make sure it fits perfectly in the room that will host the desk. But unlike a normal desk, you also have to be more careful about the height space you have. For example, if you want to place your desk underneath a shelf, you'll have to be careful that the maximum height of the desk doesn't pose a problem. It is important to think about the height of the equipment you are going to put on your desk (such as your PC screen), so that nothing will collide with potential obstacles when you want to set up your desk.
How to properly set up and use your sit-stand desk
The golden rule for maximizing the benefits of standing desks is to try to alternate between sitting and standing every 15 to 60 minutes. In addition, to improve your comfort, correct desk height and computer screen position are fundamental. For example, when standing, it is a good idea to place your desk at about elbow height. This means your elbows should be at 90 degrees to the floor. As for the position of the screen in relation to your face, make sure it is no closer than the distance between the tip of your middle finger and your elbow. It is generally accepted that the computer screen should be 500 to 700 mm from your face.
Is there a way to turn my existing desk to a standing desk?
Yes, many choose to invest in a convertible standing desk. This is often a cheaper and easier option, as they normally cost less than a full desk.
Do standing desks help relieve back and neck pain?
Standing desks puts up to 90% less stress on the lower back than sitting. Standing also makes it easier to maintain good posture, which will help reduce or avoid neck and lower back pain.