There is a lot of talk around the topic of sit-stand desks and the potential health benefits for you and your team. The often quoted ‘sitting is the new smoking’ has become a battle-cry for some and employers may feel under pressure to embrace them just to toe the line!
The benefits of sit-stand desks
In Scandinavia they have been the norm for a number of years and they, undoubtedly, do deliver health benefits by allowing the user to vary their posture throughout the working day. However standing all day can be just as damaging for your body as sitting so the key is not in adopting one position over the other but rather ensuring that you vary your position throughout the day.
The pressing workplace issues that are not resolved by sit-stand desks
However for most employees working in a traditional open-plan office environment their main issues are not around back pain caused by bad posture but rather more fundamental concerns.
No privacy – can’t concentrate!
The biggest complaint that we hear from staff working in open-plan office space is the inability to escape the noise and distractions of the office to really get their head down and concentrate on a key task or important presentation (for which there is inevitably a deadline looming!).
Nowhere to have quick informal meetings
Office staff also say that they lack access to informal meeting space where they can have quick, instant meetings with colleagues – meetings that can often be instrumental in dealing with pressing issues or problems that emerge.
Not enough meeting rooms
On the other hand probably the most common complaint from management or facilities teams is the lack of meeting rooms. They bemoan the fact that these are always booked and never available when they want them. When you investigate invariably you find that large meeting rooms (designed for 8-12 people) are regularly being used for one-to-one meetings or for internal project meetings with only 3-4 people. This is a huge waste of valuable meeting space. However there is another hidden cost, particularly regarding small internal team meetings, which is the cost of delays caused by decisions not being made and issues not being resolved quickly.
How can all these issues be resolved including the sit-stand requirement?
We feel that the way forward is to embrace agile working and create an office environment that gives the users a choice of comfortable and inspiring spaces to work. Each area is different and is designed to create an optimal work setting for the type of work to be done.
- Create Quiet Areas which give everyone access to private spaces when they need them to concentrate and focus.
- Create attractive Breakout Spaces close to the main office space that can be used for quick project meetings and can also be used for quickly accessing emails or taking a phone call. Informal meeting spaces can also be stand-up meeting tables alongside a write-on wall – great for brainstorms and mind-mapping.
- Include standard office desks (maybe a bit smaller than the traditional desk) which are still great for interactive team work and are the default work setting.
By creating this type of agile workspace you also give everyone the ability to vary their posture throughout their working day – they can switch from desk to informal space to stand-up meeting point – all without needing a sit-stand desk. In addition you also provide for the pressing needs for more privacy and quiet space, more meeting space – both informal and private, and enable meetings to be held without delay.
Oh and another thing is that you can reduce floor space by around 20% compared to a traditional office environment saving hard cash and maybe paying for the sit-stand desks as well!
Learn more about agile office design.