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How to Design the Ultimate Sit-to-Stand Office

Posted on Jan 4, 2017, by Mike Brown

Designing a sit-to-stand office is very different than designing a traditional workplace. With additional challenges to address, from comfort to privacy, your office design needs to make sit-to-stand working easy and comfortable for your clients and their employees.

Today I’m sharing seven design tips to create the ultimate sit-to-stand office.

Featured image: CBRE, Saddle Brook, New Jersey, USA. ©Gensler.

1) Specify Furniture Clients Will Love to Use

One common misconception about sit-to-stand offices is that standing replaces sitting, and that your choice of chair is therefore less important. However, sitting will still be a large part of your clients’ days: various studies suggest different best practices of sit-to-stand working, from standing every 20 minutes, to splitting the hour 50/10 between sitting and standing. Just like in a traditional office, you need to specify comfortable, ergonomic chairs in a sit-to-stand office.

Your choice of desk is also crucial. It’s important that you choose sit-to-stand desks that are as easy to adjust, and non-disruptive as possible. Consider how easy it is to adjust the height, whether it’s motorized or hand-cranked, and the volume of the motor (or crank). You will also need to consider maximum and minimum heights, to ensure that you cater for a wide range of employees.

2) Prioritise Underfoot Comfort

The biggest difference between a traditional and sit-to-stand offices is the importance of underfoot comfort, as employees will spend more time on their feet.

Choosing carpet with open cell cushion backing will provide the necessary underfoot support to make standing working comfortable – reducing muscle fatigue by as much as 24% compared with hardback carpet.

3) Beware Standing Mats

Many organizations purchase anti-fatigue mats for employees who prefer to work standing. These create an uneven floor surface, which can be a trip hazard.

Even worse, standing mats can actually create a barrier to the adoption of sit-to-stand working. Employees will need to move the mats every time they want to switch between sitting and standing, to make space for their chair.

4) Consider Employee Privacy

Visual privacy is another aspect that is very different in a sit-to-stand office compared with a traditional space. Clients may be concerned that standing workers can overlook their seated colleagues.

To improve privacy in the workplace, you may want to specify high partitions, or desks with built-in modesty screens so that employees have greater visual privacy while they work.

5) Plan the Layout

Another barrier to the adoption of sit-to-stand working is that employees may feel uncomfortable and conspicuous when they stand up to work.

This can be addressed by strategic placement: consider grouping sit-to-stand desks, rather than having a few scattered throughout the office space.

6) Design for Flexibility

What works for clients now may not work for them in two or three years. They may begin with just a few sit-to-stand desks, and then upgrade the rest of their desks if the practice proves popular.

This is why specifying open cell cushion backed carpet tiles is a better option than a hardback carpet with an anti-fatigue mat. Your entire space will provide underfoot support, so standing workers will be comfortable wherever they work. Clients will be able to rearrange their office, or increase their number of sit-to-stand workers without the added cost associated with purchasing more anti-fatigue mats.

7) Improve Acoustics

Noise is one of the biggest employee complaints about working in an open office. In a sit-to-stand office, noise levels will likely be even higher, due to the increased movement throughout the day and the sound of motors or cranks as desks are adjusted.

The interior design should specifically work to reduce the noise levels throughout the office. You can do this by softening up surfaces – for example, choosing upholstered desk chairs rather than wooden benching, and carpet rather than a hard floor. In fact, cushion-backed carpet tiles absorb 50% more noise than hard-backed carpet, which absorbs three times more noise than hard flooring.

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Mike Brown

Written by Mike Brown