Better health at the office with height-adjustable desks

Things are happening! Ergonomic height-adjustable desks are becoming increasingly popular, not only in Scandinavia but around the globe. The growing interest is a direct result of research that proves that only sitting down while working is detrimental to health. But one great challenge remains: How do we get our employees to actually use their height-adjustable desks?

We started making height-adjustable desks to improve workplace ergonomics as early as the end of 1980.

The first of these desks had manual controls, but in 1991 we launched electrically controlled sit/stand desks. Today, employees expect their employers to provide ergonomic office furniture. According to our own survey, four out of five office employees say that they want access to ergonomic furniture such as height-adjustable desks.

LIVE LONGER WITH THE RIGHT DESK

"We have known for a long time that it's beneficial to vary between sitting and standing to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. But in the last few years, several reports have proven that it is detrimental to only sit and work. This has propelled development and resulted in an increased interest in height-adjustable desks. Research shows that when we move, our bodies release substances that are important to our health, even from other perspectives, and that they may even lead to longer life" Lundahl says.

Sitting for long periods is simply not good for our bodies or our productivity. It affects our posture and increases the risk of illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.

With the help of height-adjustable desks, we can change our work position and increase mobility, which in turn improves circulation. At the same time, hormone-like substances are released that increase well-being. People come in different shapes and sizes, but a sit-stand desk is a good example of a ‘one size fits all’ solution that can be customised to suit any worker’s height or working preferences.

"More and more people want height-adjustable desks, for an increasing number of reasons," says Anders Lundahl, physiotherapist and ergonomist at Kinnarps.

PERFECT FOR ACTIVITY-BASED OFFICES

Activity-based offices are another driving factor. When we move between workspaces, it is only natural to want desks and office furniture that are flexible and can accommodate movement. Desks need to be easily adjusted to individual requirements.

The display of the hand-held remote shows the height, making it easy to adjust the desk for sitting and standing work. If you use your desk a lot, it may be a good idea to acquire a remote control that remembers your settings. This gives you the opportunity to make individual settings for sitting and standing work. The functionality is similar to the seat adjustments in a car: press the appropriate button and the desk will automatically move to the set height. Manual adjustment is facilitated as the display shows the actual setting. Knowing "your" settings helps you easily adjust the position of the desks you move between, providing the best ergonomics.

 

CORRECT DESK HEIGHT FOR SITTING

"It's actually just as important to work at the right height when seated as it is when standing, which further strengthens the argument for having sit/stand desks. What's the use in having an office chair that's perfectly customised to your body and your needs if you don't have a desk that can be fine-tuned to your optimal sitting height?" Lundahl asks.

As we know, it is vital to vary between sitting and standing when working. Only sitting can be detrimental, but only standing tires you out in the long run and does not provide the movement, variation and activity that we benefit from.

"So even if you know what your optimal sitting and standing heights are and you have the possibility to pre-program your settings, I nonetheless recommend that you sometimes make height adjustments. We have so many different sitting and standing positions – our bodies are made to move!"

"A height-adjustable desk is a good start for a more mobile and healthy life. One of the most important features of the sit/stand desk is that the height is very easy to customise. It increases the chances that you will get into the habit of moving and changing positions, before you start to have aches and pains in your neck, shoulders and back."

Anders Lundahl, physiotherapist and ergonomist, Kinnarps

4 TIPS! HOW TO GET YOUR EMPLOYEES TO USE THEIR HEIGHT-ADJUSTABLE DESKS

1

REMOTE CONTROL WITH DISPLAY

Equip desks with a display that shows the height. This makes it easy for employees to find their favourite height settings. Remote controls that remember individual settings enable employees to pre-set sitting and standing heights.

2

INFORM AND TRAIN

For your employees to use their height-adjustable desks correctly, they must first understand the benefits of using them and how to operate them. Help further by putting a "quick guide" on each desk with tips and advice.

3

FUN AIDS

Nowadays, there are any number of fun phone and workout apps that remind you when it's time to change position or to get some exercise. Set up an office challenge: who varies their position most?

4

ADD A TREADMILL

Walking on a treadmill at your desk encourages more even exercise and enables you to work while walking at a comfortable pace.

GOOD HABIT TIP!

IF YOU DO A LOT OF SCREEN WORK OR SIT THROUGH A LOT OF MEETINGS: MAKE IT A HABIT TO ALWAYS STAND AND WORK FOR A WHILE WHEN YOU RETURN TO YOUR DESK!

With a good sit/stand desk, you'll be able to create a working environment where a large group of people have space to work together, while both the individual workplace and the whole environment satisfy the functional and ergonomic requirements.

Using four smaller height-adjustable desks, you can for example make a creative space for groups to discuss ideas and suggestions. These desks can then be quickly transformed into personal workplaces for individual work, but with frequent follow-ups.

WHAT DOES RESEARCH SAY?

Sitting still for long periods of time increases the risk of disease. Exercise outside of work does not eliminate these health risks - it is how workers spend their time at work that is important for well-being and profitability (1). On average, we burn 350 calories a day by standing up for two and a half hours while working. Productivity increases by 10 percent when standing as opposed to sitting at work (2).

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THINK ABOUT THIS WHEN CHOOSING HEIGHT-ADJUSTABLE DESKS

  • Underframes with extra-long stroke, that is, the range between the lowest and highest settings, are available, making the desk extra-flexible and adjustable for people of all heights.

Choose quiet controls for better noise ergonomics and to reduce the risk of disturbing colleagues when adjusting your desk height.