With a growing trend towards sit-to-stand working, it’s important to understand the role flooring plays in protecting the health and well-being of your employees.
The Move Towards Sit-to-Stand Working
Office work has an extremely sedentary history, with up to 75% of the day spent seated and inactive. In many cases, these sedentary periods regularly exceed 30 minutes. When combined with periods of inactivity traveling to and from the workplace, catching up on emails from home, or even watching TV, sedentary working can have serious implications for health and well-being.
While some commentators are adamant on promoting standing over sitting (like Dr. James Levin’s famous ‘sitting is the new smoking’ quote’), neither seated nor standing work alone pose the solution. As ergonomic seating expert Ken Tameling explains, “It doesn’t matter if you’re standing or sitting, if you’re doing it statically, your body wasn’t designed that way.”
Movement is the key to improved employee well-being, and that means transitioning between sitting and standing while working. Research from Cornell University suggests that this act of regularly changing positions can dramatically reduce health risks. According to Professor Alan Hedge, “If you go from sitting to standing and vice versa frequently throughout the day…that completely eradicates any of the supposed risk factors associated with sitting, or indeed with standing.”
Whether employees are standing at their desk, walking between (or even during) meetings, or standing for phone calls, opportunities for sit-to-stand working are abundant in the workplace. However, in order to encourage this beneficial trend, organizations need to ensure that both seated and standing workplaces are comfortable and productive.
The Role of Flooring in Sit-to-Stand
With so much of the working day spent sitting, organizations have been quick to prioritize investment into ergonomic furniture geared towards seated offices. Chairs, desks, computer mice and keyboards are all optimized for the seated user; but little thought is put into the ergonomics of standing.
However, with growing numbers of organizations encouraging sit-to-stand working, it’s more important than ever to consider the health and well-being of active employees. Most organizations completely overlook the need to address ergonomics for standing work; and those that do typically consider anti-fatigue mats to be the solution. While these mats are beneficial to standing employees, they can be extremely difficult for seated employees to use – limiting the movement of wheeled chairs, and even causing a trip hazard.
Instead of optimizing your environment for seated or standing workers, it’s important to consider the needs of both. The benefits of sit-to-stand working are derived from active employees regularly changing posture and position. Therefore, your office environment needs to make the transition from seated to standing working as easy and comfortable as possible.
Choosing the Right Carpet Tiles for Sit-to-Stand
Hardback is the most common type of backing used, but it’s far from perfect for standing work. Thankfully, cushioned carpet provides an ideal solution to the dilemma posed by sit-to-stand working.
The comfort and well-being of standing workers can be significantly improved by choosing tiles with underfoot cushioning. In particular, a type of cushion-backing known as ‘open cell’ cushioning has been shown to decrease muscle strain by 24%. Employing the same technology used in high-performance athletic shoes, this cushioning makes it easier for employees to work comfortably and efficiently in a standing position.
Cushion-backed carpet also eliminates many of the problems associated with standing mats. Instead of creating uneven surfaces for employees to traverse, using a single type of carpet throughout the sit-to-stand office space makes it safe and easy for employees to switch between sitting and standing wherever, and whenever, they feel the need to. Chairs can move freely between workstations, facilitating fluid movement between any desired working position. It’s this ease of movement that imparts the real health benefits of sit-to-stand working.