Sit-to-stand working is one of the most popular workplace trends of recent years, thanks to the growing awareness of the health risks associated with extended sedentary periods. Employers are embracing the sit-stand work trend as a way to encourage their employees to be more active, and in turn to improve health and wellness across their organization.
However, it doesn't always catch-on. There's nothing worse than spending thousands of dollars investing in top-of-the-range sit-stand desks, only to realize that none of your employees use them except in the default 'seated' position.
To help you avoid this waste of resources, we've identified the three biggest barriers to adoption of sit-to-stand working, with suggestions to help you overcome them.
The Top 3 Barriers to Adoption of Sit-to-Stand Working
Ergotron, Inc., a global manufacturer of furniture and mobility products, conducted a study exploring the most significant factors that determine how widely and successfully sit-stand working was adopted internally. They identified three things that had the biggest impact on adoption of sit-stand working practices:
1) Education and motivation
The most important factor in improving adoption of sit-stand working practices is providing sufficient education around the subject. Employees need to understand the myriad of health benefits associated with even a small reduction in the amount of time they spend seated during the day.
Additionally, they need to understand how best to adopt sit-to-stand working, in a manageable and healthy way. Often the temptation is to jump straight from sitting down all day, to trying to stand for the whole day instead: you've been told about the dangers of long sedentary periods, so this is the logical reaction. Unfortunately, if you're not used to extended periods of standing, this can be uncomfortable - even painful - thanks to the unanticipated muscle strain on your legs.
Instead, ensure employees are aware that the aim of sit-to-stand working isn't to switch from spending all day in one position, to spending all day in another. Rather, it's about increasing the amount of movement, thanks to transitioning between sitting and standing multiple times a day.
2) Leadership support
If your entire C-suite decided against getting their own sit-to-stand desks - because they believe the change will negatively impact their productivity levels, or for any other reason - it sends the message to the entire organization that in order to be successful, you have to spend all day seated at your desk, and that standing is disruptive.
To make a success of sit-stand working, it's important that the initiative is adequately supported by the leadership team - but that it doesn't appear mandated by them.
The best way to do this is to lead by example: senior executives and leadership teams should receive their standing desks at the same time as the rest of your employees, but they should have been informed that their adoption of sit-stand working is essential for the success of the practice across the organization.
3) Peer support
Similarly, lack of support from peers can lead to poor adoption of sit-stand working practices. For example, if you don't provide all employees with sit-stand desks, but rather only replace one in every 10 or 20, then it's unlikely these desks will get used properly.
If only one desk within a bank of workspaces is a sit-stand desk, that employee will feel like they stand-out when switching to standing, as they'll tower over their seated colleagues.
In contrast, rolling out sit-stand desks across the organization means that employees will encourage and inspire each other. One commonly-used successful tactic for encouraging adoption is to nominate 'champions' in each area - someone who will be disciplined enough to switch from sitting to standing every hour. The idea is that others working nearby will see them make the switch, and be prompted to do the same.
Make the Most of Sit-to-Stand Working
Studies repeatedly show that sit-stand working offers real, tangible health benefits to employees, as well as psychological benefits and work benefits - such as improving collaboration.
Planning out the implementation of sit-stand working across your organization can help you avoid the biggest mistakes companies make, and dramatically improve adoption of this new working practice.