A Standing Joke: The Case Against Standing Desks

“If people ch[o]ose to stand to use a computer, posture tends to become fixed; there is greater wrist extension and leaning which compromises posture and increases the risks of musculoskeletal disorders forming, like carpal tunnel syndrome.” – Baker Stuart

So, what’s the deal with standing desks. Are they a yes or a no in workspace design? It appears to be that our feet are still hanging on this one.

Various researches have shown that prolonged sitting is harmful and leads to various health issues (back problems, joint problems, and even reduced life expectancy). Yet, various studies have also found that prolonged standing isn’t great for our health either.

Though standing while conducting certain types of work has been linked to improved brain activity and cognitive benefits, too much of it can lead to lower limb disorders, muscle fatigue, and foot problems.

Some of the health risks associated with standing too much include:

  • Varicose veins
  • Leg cramps
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Flat feet
  • Carotid atherosclerosis
  • Back (particularly lower back) problems
  • Spinal curvature problems

Have we reached an impasse?
Not really…

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As with many other aspects of life, too much or too little of something usually ends up leading to negative consequences. Which is why it’s important that you, as a flexible workspace operator, provide your members with different settings for them to carry out their work.

Like we learned at the GCUC.ALL Conference this year, you don’t want your members to sit in one space for 12 hours and work, that’s unrealistic. People usually seek to move around and change environments while they work, especially if they tend to work long hours.

Yet, providing a mix of sit and stand desks isn’t the only answer to the problem, at least according to a study published by the International Journal of Epidemiology. What the researchers of this study hint at is that the underlying health problems that have been associated with too much sitting won’t be solved by standing up. Their belief is that the standing movement that we’re living today should focus more on the movement part than the standing part.

“Any stationary posture where energy expenditure is low may be detrimental to health, be it sitting or standing.”

Our suggestion to you

Provide both sit desks as well as standing desks, but also nurture and foster a workplace culture and community that encourages movement and being conscious of wellness.