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How to Solve the 4 Biggest Problems with Your Sit-to-Stand Office Design

Posted on Jul 12, 2016, by Mike Brown

Sit-to-stand working is a hugely popular trend, and with good reason: height adjustable work stations bring with them a myriad of benefits to health, wellness and productivity.

However, as with any new trend, it isn’t always easy for organizations to make the switch and adapt to their new working practices. Sometimes, it can be a real struggle to adjust to sit-to-stand working, and the new design can bring with it a raft of unintended issues.

Today, I’m looking at how you can create a working environment that your clients really love - solving 4 of the biggest issues with sit-to-stand working, before they become a problem.

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

1) Noise

Open office and sit-to-stand working go hand-in-hand, with both design trends helping to encourage collaboration and workplace discussion. However, without preventative measures, sit-to-stand offices can quickly descend into noisy environments, detrimental to productivity.

To help alleviate noise concerns before they become a problem, it’s a good idea to:

  • Soften-up hard surfaces with soft furnishings and noise-absorbing carpet tiles.
  • Experiment with sound masking, using ambient noise to disguise the more disruptive office noises.
  • Introduce plants into the office, both for their health benefits and their noise-absorbing properties.
  • Assess the decibel rating of your workstations: many manufacturers will disclose the levels of noise generated by the electric motors used in their adjustable desks, making it easy to compare sound levels across different desks.

Learn more: How to Reduce Noise Levels in an Open Office

2) Discomfort

We regularly hear about the health benefits of sit-to-stand working, so it can come as a surprise when employees start complaining about muscle fatigue and lower back pain as a result of their new regimen. This often happens because employees are standing for too long, and standing on uncomfortable, unsupportive surfaces.

Thankfully, you can help overcome this problem in two ways:

  • Educate about the best practices of sit-to-stand working: estimations of this vary, but for a simple guideline, try 50 minutes seated for every 10 minutes standing.
  • Specify open cell cushioned carpet, which offers many of the same benefits as standing mats, with the addition of superior freedom of movement.

Free Tip Sheet: 6 Ways to Guarantee Commercial Flooring Project Success

3) Privacy

Many organizations and their employees regularly work with sensitive data, and as a result, are particularly sensitive to workplace privacy. This can sometimes cause problems with sit-to-stand office designs; when seated, it becomes easier for any colleagues standing nearby to unintentionally overlook an employee’s computer; when standing, monitors are elevated, and potentially more visible.

Any barrier to adoption can prevent your sit-to-stand office design from being used to its full potential, so it’s important to address privacy concerns. Sometimes it’s a simple matter of specifying higher dividers between particular workstations. It may be possible to group together employees that handle sensitive data, into their own working area; and if not, you can improve privacy by recommending screen privacy protectors.

4) Habit

For most of us, the workplace is where we spend the majority of our time. So it’s no surprise that the habits we form over the course of a 40-hour work week can prove difficult to change. Sit-to-stand working is a new habit, and like all new habits, it takes time to form. To help your clients get the most benefit from your design, it’s important to take steps to help them use their new workplace.

Many organizations (and even some larger design firms) are tackling this problem head-on, enlisting the help of workplace consultants and dedicated ‘change agents’ to lead by example. In the course of our travels, we’ve talked to the world’s leading companies about their experiences with sit-to-stand working. We found a growing number choosing to run short training sessions to help employees get more out of their new sit-to-stand office, and picking dedicated sit-to-stand champions to set a visible example of the practice in action.



Topics: Health & Wellness

Mike Brown

Written by Mike Brown