Sit-to-stand working is becoming increasingly popular, particularly as we become more aware of the health risks associated with an extremely sedentary lifestyle. Sit-to-stand working has a variety of health and productivity benefits, but despite that it can be surprisingly difficult to get buy-in across your organization.
So today I’m addressing 5 common objections to sit-to-stand working, and busting the myths behind them.
1) Displaying Confidential Information
When you’re standing up in the office, your computer screen will be much more visible to others, and your management team may well have concerns over privacy and confidentiality. Will people passing by your desk be able to see what you’re working on?
While it may be possible for passers-by to glimpse what’s on your screen, this is equally true for seated and standing workers. If your boss is particularly concerned about privacy risks with standing working, employees can be requested to use their best judgment when standing to work, and save confidential documents for seated working only. Additionally, you can purchase privacy screen protectors (for relatively low cost) to maintain visual privacy while working.
2) Disrupting Colleagues
Another common concern when introducing sit-to-stand working is that the transition between postures will distract and disrupt other employees. This is voiced particularly often in open office environments, where you can have a clear line of sight through the whole office space.
However, in open offices people never go to their desk at 8am and stay there right through the day. Your colleagues will always be moving around – going to meetings, going to get some water, heading out for lunch – so movement in the office is nothing new.
While it may be a minor distraction for the first few days, or when the first few people try standing working, the novelty will very quickly wear off and the sight of a standing colleague will become part of a normal working day.
In fact, it can help to promote healthier work habits throughout your office, as everyone becomes aware of best practices for sit-to-stand working. Seeing their colleagues adjusting their workstations can act as a prompt for your other employees to move around a bit too, reducing aches and pains that come from long periods of physical inactivity.
3) Feeling Self-Conscious
One of the most common concerns about sit-to-stand working is that the worker will loom over their seated colleagues and draw attention to themselves and their work.
The best way to overcome this is to roll-out sit-to-stand working across your whole office, rather than limiting it to just one team, or trialing it with just a few members of staff. According to a 2014 study by BMC Public Health, “a supportive work environment helped to normalize standing up at work”, and participants reported that seeing others standing in the office prompted them to do so too.
4) Loss of productivity
The main business objection to sit-to-stand working is based on a fear of lost employee productivity. The concern is that standing employees will distract seated employees, and also that the standing position is not conducive for efficient or effective working.
However, The Draugiem Group trialed standing desks and found that they were actually 10% more productive compared with when they spent the whole day seated. Additionally, studies have shown that cognitive functioning actually improves when using standing desks – being able to transition between sitting and standing gives you a fresh perspective on the tasks at hand.
5) Health Concerns
There are some concerns about health problems that can be caused by standing for long periods of time. Studies show that too much sitting is bad for us. And if you try to stand all day – especially after several years of primarily seated working – that can be just as damaging, putting unexpected strain on your legs.
However, it’s important to remember that the aim of sit-to-stand working isn’t to change from just sitting to just standing for the whole day. It’s about incorporating movement into your day by transitioning between the two.
Sit-to-stand working reduces employee discomfort compared with seated working alone; with fewer aches and pains to cause distractions (and the freedom to vary their stance to make themselves comfortable), employees are better able to focus on their work.