Standing Desks vs. Regular Desks: Which is Better for Productivity?


standing vs sitting desksPurchasing office furniture can be a daunting task. Luckily, there is a wealth of choices in the market today, along with new and innovating achievements in design within the industry. Standing desks have continued to be a popular office furniture item, which purports to enhance worker productivity. But do they?

With all the new innovations in standing desks, is it time to say goodbye to that old standard desk? Modern light weight, easily mobile, height adjustable standing desks, makes it tempting to get rid of that heavy, old, school teacher style desk. There are many studies promoting the ergonomic health benefits of standing desks. But another question is: What are the differences in productivity between modern standing desks vs. regular office desks?

Productivity at the workplace is a number one concern. Greater productivity leads to greater efficiency, which equals out to greater profits. Sitting all day in one spot can cause an actual loss in productivity. According to WebMD, health problems such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, is all the risks of prolonged hours sitting in one spot at the office. This is where the merits of standing desks start to stand out. Most standing models are height adjustable, either by hand, or motorized, making them convenient to use, plus easily adaptable. Physiologically, standing correlates to our brains the act of working. One might be sitting comfortably all day, but with that constant comfort is the risk of comfortable complacency. Complacency can be one of the greatest detractors of productivity.

The benefits of incorporating a standing desk into one’s office floor plan, seems to be very apparent. Sitting at a standard desk all day can cause health problems from prolonged immobility, contribute to obesity, and can also cause mental atrophy by becoming too comfortable to be conducive to motivation, thus decreasing productivity. But according to the Cornell University Ergonomics Web, prolonged standing at work can have its perils too. They state that increased amounts of standing can actually be very dangerous for men with ischemic heart disease, due to the additional strain on their circulatory system. Also that prolonged standing increases the chance of varicose veins, and takes up to 20% more energy than sitting. All these factors also point out that standing all day is also unhealthy. So what is the answer to whether standing desks or standard desks are better? After all, both the degree of comfort and the health of the worker play important roles in workplace productivity.

The answer to the dilemma of which desk is more conducive to productivity, a standard desk, or a standing desk, is that they both can be. Whether one is working at a standard desk or a standing desk, in both situations a set amount of micro-breaks in intervals is in order, outside of the standard middle shift lunch, and two 15 minute breaks. This allows the body to circulate the proper blood flow, stop the storage of body fats when sitting for prolonged periods, and thus alleviating the health problems associated with prolonged immobility. It also breaks up the complacence monotony that reduces productivity. The micro-breaks from standing desks are, of course, opposite to standard desks. Taking it easy for a minute or two, by sitting down and literally taking a load off your feet, will allow both your body and your mind to recharge and refresh itself. Of course, if one has a heart condition, or other physically disabling condition, standing desks are not going to be a safe working environment regardless.

There are some great modern ergonomic office chair designs, that if one was contemplating a standing desk, but was still unsure about their ability to stand all day, a dueling adjustable chair and adjustable standing desk would both instantly solve your dilemma. The main difference between standing desks vs. regular desks, is that there are allot more choices with standing desks. Some standing desks can be easily lowered to the regular desk height. Some standing desk models come with locking wheels. Drawers can also be installed in order to make a standing desk just as functional as a regular desk.

Of course the way one likes to work is a very individualized character trait. In the end, some people may not be the right fit for a modern standup desk working environment. The old-fashioned schoolteacher desk of our youth has a sort of comforting feeling for some that can’t be replaced. The best advice is to try working in a standup environment first before committing one’s office to it. It’s hard to change one’s mind after the new office furniture has already been purchased. No matter which desk one decides to choose, people should never forget the working etiquette that both desk types need for maximizing productivity – Like the ones listed below.

5 quick tips to a productive desk:

1. Position your Keyboard: Not having your keyboard properly positioned is not only counterproductive, but also inviting a case of painful carpal tunnel syndrome.

2. Keep it Clean: Take a few minutes to wipe down your desk and dust your keyboards.

3. Attack the Stack: The catch 22 about keeping stacks of papers on your desk trying to be productive is that it gets in the way of productivity. Attack the stack, one file at a time.

4. Don’t Post-it: Keep all of that clutter off your desk and keep important notes on the bulletin board where they belong.

5. Control the Food & Drink: When one starts having picnics at their desk, instead of quick snacks, it starts interfering with their professional productivity. Everyone takes a sip of a drink, or a quick bite now and then, but not a full course meal.


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