Employer’s Guide to Developing a Sit-Stand Workstation Policy

Sit-stand desks have become a popular feature in offices across every industry as employees and businesses look for practical ways to support wellness in the workplace. A sit-stand desk policy is essential for providing structure, control and a fair approach to this ergonomic solution.

The Problem with Sitting

Sitting has been called “the new smoking” because of the damage to our health our sedentary lifestyles are causing. Whether we’re working in an office, watching TV, driving, or having a meal, we’re simply sitting too much for our own good. 

The Mayo Clinic reports that sitting for long periods of time is linked to serious health concerns like high blood sugar, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even increased risks of cardiovascular disease and cancers. Even for people who regularly exercise, the health risks from sitting for the rest of the day are significant. 

We simply need to stand up and move around more regularly throughout the day and change our lifestyles to better support our health and productivity – and that means changing our offices.

Why Have a Sit-Stand Desk Policy?

  • New workstations are costly – Outfitting an office space is a costly project that quickly spiral out of control if you want to invest in every new product that comes on the market. It’s impractical, costly and disruptive. Standing office desks and adjustable height desks are good solutions to the issue of sitting too long – but they shouldn’t be invested in without research, budgeting and input from all stakeholders.
  • Sit-stand desks aren’t for everyoneA lot of literature about sit-stand desks and standing office desks tends to emphasize the benefits to health, posture and productivity without recognizing that they don’t work for everyone or even every work situation. Without a clear and well thought-out policy, you may end up in investing in sit-stand desks only to find that many employees preferred the old workstations, or would’ve preferred alternative ergonomic desks.
  • Get important inputAs with any project, it is important to get the input of all stakeholders, from those who are spending the money to those that are utilizing the solution. A policy allows all stakeholders to evaluate different solutions and come up with an environment that supports the best levels of productivity, health and comfort throughout the organization.

Features to Consider in Your Workplace Policy

  • Hot desking or common spaces – Give employees the ability to move between different types of workstations for different tasks by creating common areas where sit-stand desks are available for use. This gives employees a means to test out this solution for themselves and use it when needed, creating a flexible workspace.
  • Comply with medical needs – Prioritize employees who can present a medical certification for their need to stand rather than sit at a desk. Explore different sit-stand workstations and standing desks to find an option that supports their functional abilities, limitations and daily tasks.
  • Ergonomic desks – Sit-stand desks are not the only option to support employee heath at their workstation. Many ergonomic desks can be properly adjusted to better support sitting health, while others have functionality to allow employees to sit or stand as needed in order to take breaks during the day while remaining productive.
  • Support standing comfort – If you want a healthier workplace and to make standing desks more accessible, then company policies have to support comfort while standing. Cushioned mats to stand on, a comfortable shoe policy, regular breaks and no high heels are essential parts of a successful policy.

Behavioral support – Standing office desks, adjustable height desks, and flexible office desks are just one small part of workplace wellness. Organizations need to support more frequent breaks from sitting by encouraging employees to stand while answering phones, walking to a co-worker to discuss something rather than sending an email, regular breaks of 10 minutes for each hour of work, standing during presentations, and generally walking more in the workplace.

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