The great standoff: The value of standing desks in a sitting world

Scott WorkstationAfter a long day of sitting at your desk, nothing beats the feeling of taking a good stretch. But then it hits you, “How long was I sitting?”

If you’re like a majority of Americans with an office job, you sit for the majority of your work day.

When it comes to doing your job, it’s easy to forget the strain you put on your body from sitting too long. The obvious solution for sitting too much is standing.

Ergonomics InfographicWhat is a standing desk?
It’s all in the name. A standing desk is a device that optimizes your workspace to accommodate comfortable standing while you work.

So far, two manufacturers’ products are used by employees at the Iowa Department of Transportation: Ergotron® and Varidesk®. Both companies offer products that cater to an individual’s need. Most standing desks require minimal installation and can fit into tight spaces. The products come in various shapes, sizes, and colors and are entirely portable.

Each desk easily adjusts to the height of the user and can be smoothly transitioned from a standing to sitting position. Some standing desks even come with safety locks to ensure nothing on your workspace flies around as you move between desk positions.

The Office of Finance’s purchasing section facilitates ordering the desks. Because the purchases are direct and in bulk the DOT is able to get them at a discount.

“Just in the past three months, I’ve purchased more than 25 of them for employees,” said David Doolittle, with the purchasing section. “We want to make sure employees are getting the best desk that suits them, so we provide a good list of choices.”

Employees who are interested in getting a standing desk should discuss it with their supervisor.

The importance of standing

Although working while standing isn’t the perfect solution for everyone, it can combat the risk for acute pain, discomfort, reduced risk of obesity, and even chronic . Standing increases energy, improves posture, and stimulates blood flow.

Scott Anderson, with the Office of Finance, like many other employees, feels the benefits of using a standing desk after a back injury.

“I spend about half the day standing, the other sitting, just going back and forth depending on my pain level with my back,” said Anderson. “My desk lets me focus on my work and not on the pain that I’m feeling. I’m able to do everything standing that I can do sitting, so it was an easy transition. Some of us can stand for a majority of the day, but if I do get fatigued or need to focus in on something specific, I’ll work sitting down.”

Assessing your work area through ergonomics
Office of Employee Services’ staff can perform an ergonomic assessment for any employee who would like to learn how to improve their overall wellness at their workstations or offices.

“Conducting an ergonomic assessment allows us to identify ways an employee can improve their comfort and productivity throughout the day,” said Amy Knight, with the Office of Employee Services. “We usually recommend small adjustments, after which, the employee typically notes improvement.”

Knight believes these desks are a good solution to a long-term problem. She says finding more opportunities to avoid sitting extensively outweigh the costs one might accumulate from missed work days, medical costs, and physical therapies – plus encouraging a more healthy and active lifestyle.

Healthy doesn’t have to be hard.
With a growing focus on staying healthy at work, you don’t have to go far at the Iowa DOT to find the right resources. The Iowa DOT’s wellness program is coordinated by the Office of Employee Services’ employee health and safety team. The team helps employees find ways to work in a healthier environment. More information about the team and Iowa DOT’s wellness program is available online at:  http://dotnet/wellness/home.aspx.

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