from the research Jul 25, 2019

In this post I dive into this research that dives into whether or not the typical active workstations - whether it be a standing, treadmill, or cycling desk negatively impacts performance. 

I don't know about you, but when I do consultations, I get this question quite a bit - whether standing at work is good or bad for productivity. 

And, it for this very reason that I wanted to share some insights that has worked for me!

Let's talk about Active Workstations 

We all know that sedentary positions that are maintained for the duration of the workday can have negative health consequences for us. In the media today, it seems like we have reached an all time high in gleaning relevant health information. A frequent target is the fact that we sit for far too long in the office and we must do something about it immediately (or perhaps should have done something about it yesterday).

Other than trying to reach 10,000 steps per day, as documented by our trendy activity tracking wristbands, it can often seem daunting to add more physical activity into our client's daily routines. This is especially true with overbearing deadlines that never seem to diminish in importance.

The comment from my clients that I regularly hear is somewhere along the lines of: 'how do you expect me to add physical activity into my day when I have these deadlines that must be met?'

Good Point. 

Let's frame it like this: 

Around 4PM on the last day that a major project is due to a prized client, I bet that 10,000 steps are the farthest thing from being on your client's mind.

But what happens if these sorts of days become more and more the norm for your client?

In other words, what are some viable pro-health solutions that you can suggest to your client to change their health for the better - regardless of their increasingly demanding schedule?

Active Workstations

Well, the good news is that today there are so many viable options for non-traditional workstations available that you can share with your client.

It all depends on their budget and workflow. 

Examples of non-traditional workstations:

  • Standing workstation
  • Sit-to-stand workstation
  • Treadmill workstation
  • Cycle workstation

Word To The Wise...

If your client is serious about implementing some of these non-traditional workstations then they should not have to sacrifice productivity for the benefit of increased physical activity. For 'active' workstations to be a good return-on-investment in business, they would want to see productivity results that are at least match a sitting workstation.

The research findings support that low activity, non-traditional workstations don't have any negative implications on a person's cognitive performance! (Note: this was determined via short-term usage.)

Why Isn't Performance Reduced?

Past research had assumed that using an ‘active’ workstation (i.e.: like walking on a treadmill while completing computer work) would negatively affect performance, due to what researchers called 'interference.' But after a person gets used to working while being active, performance in an active workstation surpassed that of a sitting workstation surprisingly.

What You Can Suggest To Your Client Today

The results of this research are amazing - along with improving physical activity in the workplace, 'active' workstations also show no detrimental affects to cognitive performance!

If you are you interested in implementing 'active' workstations with one of your clients, here are some tips to share with their employer:

  1. The most important aspect of implementing this type of workstation is to first determine behaviour habits.
    • In my experience, for 'active' workstations to be successful, your client must be fully engaged and excited about the process.
    • Most excitement is usually from clients with a history of lower back pain or chronic discomfort.
    • I have found that those who are ambivalent to the process will unlikely use their shiny new desk beyond a few weeks
  2. If unsure that your client would use standing/active workstations, purchase one unit and use it as a 'hotel' for all staff to share. Alternatively you can 'mock' up a standing desk with boxes/texts under the keyboard/mouse and monitor.
    • If laptops are the primary computing source, an ergonomically designed docking system would be most attractive for staff to try. Ensure that there is an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse for optimal working posture during use.
  3. The workstation must be fully adjustable for each employee to allow for optimal ergonomics.
    • Height adjustability in the desk and monitor is suggested.

There you have it! Active Workstations In The Office. 

Do you typically recommend active or non-traditional workstations to your clients? Let me know in the comments! 

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