The Past and Present of a Standing Desk

With a few quick adjustments, height-adjustable standing desks easily allow people to go from a seated to a standing position and vice versa. They offer healthier and more comfortable workplaces that lead to increased productivity. Sit-stand desks have become increasingly popular in recent years and are now a staple in many workplaces. But a complete ergonomic workstation can be quite expensive. So, are they really worth the money?

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Standing desks have been around for centuries

Although there were early adopters, standing desks became significantly more common in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The rich often had them in their homes and offices. The advice from Job Orton, an English dissenting minister in 1797, may have contributed significantly to the rise of this ergonomic furniture. He stated that a sedentary lifestyle could be harmful, and we should make an effort to keep our bodies erect while reading and writing, never lowering our heads or hunching over. To avoid this, he recommended switching to a standing desk.

In the nineteenth century, this recommendation carried on. Penmanship on the feet is discussed in a self-help book from 1858, which claims that professionals should practice this habit, since over half of all business writing was conducted while standing. Adjustable bureaus with cranks were the invention of this period. Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, and Charles Dickens were all fond of writing while standing. However, standing desks still remain a relatively new trend in office designs nowadays.

Standing desks are a must nowadays

Being glued to a desk for the majority of the week can leave workers with physical problems, like tension in their shoulders and back and chronic pain in their joints – even when they sit correctly. So, it’s not surprising that adjustable workstations have grown in popularity as an office furniture solution.

The Get Britain Standing campaign is dedicated to informing others of the risks associated with extended sitting and inactivity at work. For years, they have fought for employers to provide employees with sit-stand workstations. Their mission to prevent employees from spending too much time sitting has been supported by Public Health England. 

Standing desks have become widely used in Northern Europe. Prior to the pandemic, more than 90% of employees who used computers in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark were working at standing desks. In fact, it is a legal obligation in Denmark for businesses to provide staff with the option of working while standing.

The WELL building standard that focuses on improving people’s health and wellbeing through the built environment also promotes a height-adjustable standing desk. One guideline states that for a minimum of 25% of workstations, employees should have the ability to change between sitting or standing, either through standing desks or desktop height adjustment stands.

After reading news articles discussing the health risks associated with sitting all day, many Facebook employees inquired about standing desks. Facebook officials said that, on average, they received five to eight requests per week for standing desks. Facebook also tested a treadmill station, allowing employees to walk or run while working on their computers. 

With more organisations supporting employee wellbeing after Covid-19, we will most likely see an influx of standing desks in workspaces across the UK and internationally.

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