How to use a standing desk: 6 tips for maximum health benefits

As wellbeing tops the workplace agenda, demand for sit-to-stand desks is picking up. For maximum health benefits, here are 6 tips to use a standing desk.

April 11, 2018

As wellbeing tops the workplace agenda, demand for sit-stand desks is quickly picking up. A market research report published by Credence Research forecasts the global standing desk market is set to hit $2.8 billion by 2025, with a double-digit growth rate expected over the same period (2017-2025).

What’s driving this interest in flexible desks? Factors like employee wellness and motivation have a large role to play as well as the enhanced productivity that a healthier, happier workforce can bring.

Companies are realizing the tangible benefits of focusing on health and wellness in the workplace. Office furniture that encourages movement, especially workstations with height adjustability are increasingly popular for both wellness and functional reasons. Technology firms like Twitter have introduced sit-stand desks at their campuses and more workplaces are following suit.

According to our Human Experience report, 66% of respondents spend the majority of time at their desk while in their office. Studies show that a number of health issues can stem from a sedentary work environment. Groups like Center for Disease Control and American Medical Association have stated that standing desks help combat these to some extent.

Why stand?

Standing throughout the day increases blood circulation, boosts fat-burning metabolism and lowers fatigue. Researchers in Australia have found that standing desks may contribute to increased levels of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) as well.

Besides the obvious health benefits and flexibility of use, an optimal use of floor space builds a strong business case for standing desks in workplaces which are constantly evolving with needs of their workforce and technology.

If you thought integrating ergonomic furniture was all that you needed to do, the bad news is: it’s just half the battle. Standing for long hours has its own share of health hazards. To maximize the benefits of your standing desk, you must know how to use it right.

Here’s how you can keep the risks low

  1. Sit, stand and switch: Standing for long periods isn’t ideal. You’ll stress your leg muscles, tendons and other connective tissue. It might even cause varicose veins (enlarged, twisted veins in your legs). Research from the NCBI shows that for every 1 to 2 hours you sit in your office, 1 hour should be spent standing. An easy solution? Switch between sitting and standing upright every 30 to 60 minutes.
  2. Adjust your screen and desk: The right standing desk height and monitor position are crucial to comfort and wellbeing. Try to place your elbows at a 90 degree angle, and don’t strain your neck. If you’re using a laptop, make sure your keyboard is even with the bend of your elbows, but your monitor doesn’t force you to look too far down. Invest in external monitors and keyboards to help with this.
  3. Get an anti-fatigue mat: Anti-fatigue mats are commonly used by employers who require employees to stand for long periods (think restaurants, salons, etc.). They’re designed to ease standing fatigue by encouraging your leg muscles to move around a bit. And, they make some specifically for standing desks.
  4. Move your keyboard and mouse: Slightly tilt your desk upwards and make sure your keyboard and mouse are even. Otherwise, you risk the potential for an increase in wrist pain and discomfort.
  5. Use arm supports: They’re designed to reduce pressure on your mouse side wrist. These soft padded supports attach to your desk and have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of developing other upper body muscle issues.
  6. Take more breaks: Stretch your legs! Whether you need an app to remind you or not, it’s an essential part of reducing muscle and skeletal discomfort. A study from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society found that 35 call center workers over a two-week period experienced less upper limb and back discomfort when they took a periodic timeout.