The study acknowledges the growing body of evidence that indicates high levels of sedentary behavior, and sitting in particular, are emerging risk factors for chronic disease.
Employees who were in the trial reduced sitting time by almost 20% during work hours and increased standing time by about an hour through use of Ergotron’s WorkFit® Sit-stand workstations.
This document captures the study outcomes and is a valuable resource for managers or businesses seeking ways to protect and foster employee health and well-being. It also provides great ideas for reducing sitting time in the workplace outside of using sit-stand workstations.
The Heart Foundation has added standing to their outreach effort. It makes us proud to see that their “Be an Up-Standing Citizen” poster features the outline of the WorkFit-S!
Taking a stand for heart health is a global message we can all support.
Sit-stand desk users are 75% more likely to report pain-free days than those working at traditional seated [sit-only] desks.
This is just one of the encouraging findings in the study conducted by Stanford University, “Impact of a Sit-Stand Workstation on Chronic Low Back Pain Results of a Randomized Trial.” Published online in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM) by Grant T. Ognibene, BA, Wilson Torres, BS, Rie von Eyben, MS, and Kathleen C. Horst, MD, the research concludes that low back pain may be improved by the introduction of sit-stand workstations.
The research confirms what our anecdotal evidence has told us, that the ability to change positions from seated to standing frequently throughout the workday gives workers some measure of relief from certain low back pain issues.
Back pain continues to be a key issue in terms of employee health and safety as well as a drain on business productivity in absenteeism, presenteeism, and increased worker’s compensation rates. It is estimated that 31 million Americans are experiencing back pain1, and the prevalence of global back pain is estimated to be around 23%2. Not only do businesses feel the impact of people out of the office dealing with pain, but workers themselves suffer from the physical and emotional stress of not being able to work as they would like.
The real good news here? Participants began to experience an improvement approximately 15 days after the sit-stand computer workstation was installed. And associated benefits included increased concentration: 95% of participants reported significantly lower back and neck pain, noting the pain was significantly less likely to interfere with their ability to concentrate.
“Our sit-stand workstations allow seamless movement between sitting and standing positions, offering users ergonomic comfort in addition to many other health-related benefits,” said Pete Segar, Ergotron CEO. “We will continue to build on our WorkFit product line with products like the WorkFit-T and WorkFit-TL to improve the health and productivity of the world’s office workers.”
The study, conducted onsite at Stanford, used a combination of 46 Ergotron WorkFit-S, WorkFit-A, and WorkFit-A Premium sit-stand workstations dependent on the worker’s desktop requirements.
This promising research is the first of what we hope many studies that explore some of the questions from this pilot: pain improvement happened slowly – would it continue to improve over a longer period? These folks already suffered from lower back pain – how part does adoption and use of sit-stand workstations play to prevent the onset of lower back pain? Would comprehensive ergo training in conjunction with SSW make for even greater improvement?
Jensen M, Brant-Zawadzki M, Obuchowski N, et al. Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Lumbar Spine in People Without Back Pain. N Engl J Med 1994; 331: 69-116.
2. Hoy D, Bain C, Williams G, et al A systematic review of the global prevalence of low back pain. Arthritis Rheum 2012;64:2028.
I just returned from the EDspaces 2015 show for education furniture. The attendees were largely educators, architects and designers, and resellers seeking to use new furniture concepts to improve learning objectives. Among what I expected to see there, there were also a few surprises. Here are my “cliff” notes from the event if you couldn’t attend:
Introducing motion into the student’s day. There is significant interest in this topic, most certainly fueled by all the recent research proving the benefit of reducing sedentary time. One of the award winners had a wide range of bicycles, walkers and elliptical mechanisms built into desks—a seemingly good idea, but expensive, complex and space-intensive. Perhaps a good specialty solution. Hat’s off to them for their efforts.
Standing desk solutions are starting to emerge. Ergotron’s Bob Hill gave an excellent talk surveying the research supporting the value of standing desks, and discussing how the early adopters have achieved success in their schools. The questions being asked by the audience were not exploratory, rather they had detailed questions about how to successfully implement, such as deciding how many chairs need to be planned in a classroom of standing desks. A key point was the need for student-adjustable desks. In a recent article in FastCompany, the principal of Vallecito Elementary says, “Our current favorite desk has some of the things we need, but is cumbersome to adjust and requires an army of parent volunteers to adjust the desks in each classroom to fit each child. This is obviously not scalable across the country. …”
Collaboration is a top educator priority, but solutions are haphazard. There is clearly a strong desire to provide flexible, re-configurable desk solutions. However, ironically, the most common desks that are touted as collaboration solutions appear to be odd-shaped regular desks. Kidney shaped, trapezoidal, interlocking organic shapes. They look nice, but few are mobile, few allow for height adjustability, and few readily allow the students to reconfigure the classroom quickly. Also there appears to be more attention to color than to performance. The key to developing the ideal collaboration products will be to provide prototypes to innovative educators, and cooperatively work on developing new solutions.
Cheapo tablet/laptop charging carts…yikes! Among the exhibitors there, there were lots of manufacturers with cheap charging carts with power strips. Some even were made of particle board. Please understand that computing devices and their power bricks give off a lot of heat during charging, and they also can draw enough power to blow a circuit breaker or overheat. At a minimum, these carts can reduce lifetime of your computing devices by overheating them, but more seriously, they can be fire hazards. Buy a safe cart with power management and a metal or flame retarded housing please!! The number of fires allowable in a school is ZERO. Look for UL certification labels.
Knockoffs. I was surprised to see copies of one of our products and some other top manufacturer’s products. Please don’t buy copies—it takes a lot of research and development to create a ground breaking product.
I am convinced that this is the beginning of a major trend towards standing desks that will improve our student’s health and learning outcomes. Check out emerging research on juststand.org.
By Pete Segar, CEO, Ergotron Inc., President, Nortek Ergonomics and Productivity Solutions
I just read a very practical research review article in Ergonomics in Design entitled, “Is Standing the Solution to Sedentary Office Work?” by Jack P. Callaghan, et. al. It provides a suggested ratio of 1:1 alternating between sitting and standing, with no more than 15 minutes of standing at a time. That is good practical guidance supported by a number of research studies.
This is certainly consistent with one of the basic tenets of ergonomics, that frequent re-positioning aids comfort by avoiding repetitive stress or static overload. However, for a typical knowledge worker that computes for six or more hours per day, this means moving between sitting and standing positions 24 times per day.
Is this reasonable? It depends on the desk. When one is using an electric desk, the workflow is interrupted by waiting for the desk to reach the proper ergonomic position to start computing again. An electric desk that takes 20 sec to re-position will waste a total of 8 minutes per day if it is re-positioned according to the guidelines.
In American Journal of Preventative Medicine, an article by Dr. Lucas Carr et al. entitled “Cross-sectional Examination of Long-term Access to Sit–Stand Desks in a Professional Office Setting” observed Swedish call center workers with access to counterbalanced spring or electric hoist sit–stand desks for a longer, albeit unknown, duration, and concluded, “It is possible that use of sit–stand desks declines over time and is dependent upon lift type, as more convenient lifts may translate to greater standing.”
This is one of the main reasons why I believe a counterbalanced workstation (where the weight is supported by a spring lift mechanism), promotes health more effectively than an electric desk. A good counterbalanced desk can be re-positioned virtually instantly, and can be done without disturbing the worker’s thought process. If the worker perceives the effort of re-positioning is too great, they will revert back to sedentary behaviors and begin sitting for longer periods of time, or perhaps standing all the time and experiencing leg or back discomfort.
Wellness experts advise that when you start standing, aim to start in small regular intervals, rather than forcing yourself to stand all day for the first day. The aim should be to get to the point where you can spend half of your working day standing within four weeks. This can be accomplished with a gradually increasing schedule of standing from 10 minutes per hour in Week 1, to 20 minutes each hour in Week 2 and finally 30 minutes per hour by Week 3. If you experience fatigue or discomfort, ease off a bit. A counter-balanced workstation allows the worker to accomplish this, by easily moving as the worker moves. The workstation becomes an extension of the worker, without a lot of thought need to keep it working with them.
Electric desks still excel for very heavy weights, and highly variable loads; however for a normal office worker with dual or triple monitors and normal levels of paperwork, a counterbalanced desk is going to be substantially easier and quicker to lift and lower, and therefore will be more effective promoting comfort. Furthermore, they do not require electrical power, and are quieter.
Some people will continue to sit longer than 15 to 30 minutes. Some will continue to stand more than two to 30 minutes. But whichever position they are in, switching to the next position can be, and should be, instantaneous.
By Pete Segar, CEO, Ergotron Inc., President, Nortek Ergonomics and Productivity Solutions
Break out the party hats and balloons? Why not! Raising people’s awareness about the importance of good ergonomics goes a long way to preventing pain and combating rising healthcare costs.
We’ll be offering up some tips of our own throughout the month (on the blog and via @ergotron on Twitter) focused on how to make computing more comfortable. Until then, take the first step today by checking the ergonomic fitness of your workstation. Confetti is optional.
When asked how the desk was received at the event, Bob Hill, Ergotron’s Education Industry Manager replied, “How many times have we heard a teacher ask a kid to stay seated in the classroom? Teachers get it.” What they “get” are children’s impulses to move. And how that movement is linked to brain development and ultimately performance. Read the news >