Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Business

Study shows standing desks boost productivity

The modern work world is proving to be no friend to reclining enthusiasts.

First people eschewed comfy cushioning for ergonomically weird chair designs, then they started sitting on giant inflatable balls (terrible, and slightly dangerous, for napping) and now we're bombarded with news about how standing desks — standing, I tell you! — are the key to workplace health.

Adding to the sizable body of research that shows the health benefits of standing desks, which keep workers more active during the day and relieve nagging problems like lower back pain, a new study has found that working upright also makes people more productive. And not just by a small margin.

Research by the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health found that employees in a call center who used standing desks for a six-month period were 46 percent more productive than colleagues who used standard desks.

The study cited past work that found people using desks that allow them to stand at least part of the time show increased cognitive performance. It concluded that "individuals that have the opportunity to stand throughout the day can operate at higher productivity levels than those that do not have the capability to stand while working."

I contacted Mark Benden, director of the Texas A&M's Ergonomics Center and one of the study's authors, and found, sadly, no conspiracy afoot.

His take on standing desks is: "It's not something that's just trendy. It's how we were designed. We were designed to be up and about and moving around, not just static."

But what about these productivity numbers? A nearly 50 percent jump seems startlingly high.

"I was absolutely blown away," Benden said, noting that he had the study's lead author go back and review the data twice. "We hadn't seen anything this significant ever. It was a consistent pattern. They outperformed their seated peers for six straight months."

The research didn't examine why productivity increased in the call center, but Benden said it's consistent with his past research.

"We followed high school students for a year who were given standing desk stations in their high school and we monitored them using brain scans and other cognitive tests. There was about an average of 10 percent cognitive improvement."

Possible explanations for these boosts include increased energy levels from being upright and moving around and decreased physical discomfort, which has been shown to reduce productivity.

Benden said he thinks the high productivity jump in the call center might relate to the nature of that type of work, as the way you feel can directly impact the way you come across to people over the phone.

"Those percentages are very high," he said. "Do I think they're unique to this environment and this culture? Yes. But my goodness. If you got half of those results you'd be thrilled. The small investment you'd make in the workplace environment would be well worth it."

I get it, Benden, you want me to stand up all the time. Fine.

At the recent NeoCon commercial design show, he said visitors saw not only a wide array of sit-stand desks but also greater incorporation of technology into office equipment.

"We're starting to see more reliance on wearable technology that can provide healthy reminders," he said. "These type of upgrades are the next phase of this whole discussion. We've realized there are some benefits (to standing); now how do we get people to do this? If you start walking the aisles at NeoCon you're going to see more and more examples of computer chips in pieces of furniture."

Rats.

I asked Benden what hope there is for workplace horizontalists like me.

"With the sit-stand desks being so much higher, somebody asked if I could outfit a hammock under the desk," he said.

Now we're talkin'.

"I'm a big fan of this little factoid — your best position is your next one," Benden said. "If you tell me you want to work reclined, I really don't care. I'm all about, 'What's the end result?' Are you more productive at the end of the day because you were able to spend a couple hours in a reclined position? Maybe we need to explore that."

Comments
New board members at CareerSource Pinellas press for answers

New board members at CareerSource Pinellas press for answers

CLEARWATER –– New board members at a troubled job placement center received a call for oversight Wednesday — something all but absent in recent years at the agency."Question, question, question," said CareerSource Pinellas board chair Jack Geller dur...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Career Q&A:

Career Q&A:

Q: One of my co-workers is lying about a task she was supposed to complete. "Dawn" is responsible for renewing everyone’s membership in our industry’s professional association. However, last year she had a problem with my password, so I processed the...
Updated: 1 hour ago
New 35-story condo tower to rise in Tampa’s Channelside area

New 35-story condo tower to rise in Tampa’s Channelside area

TAMPA — A 35-story condo tower with just two units per floor is expected to start construction in the booming Channelside area early next year.Tampa-based Mercury Advisors announced Wednesday that it had obtained construction financing for the $74 mi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership hires new CEO from Salt Lake City

St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership hires new CEO from Salt Lake City

ST. PETERSBURG — The nonprofit St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership on Wednesday said it has hired Jason Mathis as its new CEO.Mathis has more than 20 years of nonprofit experience, including serving as executive director of the Downtown Alliance in S...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Nitally’s set to reopen at a new, more intimate, South Pasadena location

Nitally’s set to reopen at a new, more intimate, South Pasadena location

Folks who have missed testing their taste buds with a St. Petersburg eatery’s famous inferno soup will get a chance to do so once again.Nitally’s ThaiMex Cuisine, which closed its downtown St. Petersburg location in May, will open soon in a smaller l...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Where to get a good hot dog in Tampa Bay for National Hot Dog Day

Where to get a good hot dog in Tampa Bay for National Hot Dog Day

Monday, July 23, is National Hot Dog Day. I don’t know precisely why, but I think some major lobbying from the sausage board was involved. It’s baseball season, it’s barbecue season, it’s I-don’t-feel-like-cooking season. Those are plenty of reasons....
Updated: 6 hours ago
Kahwa to be served in up to 130 Publix cafes

Kahwa to be served in up to 130 Publix cafes

Two popular local brands are combining forces: Kahwa announced today it’s partnering with Publix to serve its coffee and lattes in 130 store cafes.The first to roll out are in Bradenton and Winter Garden Publix stores, but the locations will expand a...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Housing starts tumbled 12.3 percent in June

Housing starts tumbled 12.3 percent in June

Associated PressWASHINGTON — U.S. homebuilders sharply curtailed the pace of construction in June as housing starts plummeted 12.3 percent. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that housing starts fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.17 m...
Updated: 8 hours ago
EU fines Google a record $5 billion over mobile system

EU fines Google a record $5 billion over mobile system

BRUSSELS — The European Union fined Google a record $5 billion Wednesday for using the market dominance of its Android mobile operating system to force handset makers to install Google apps, reducing choice for consumers.EU Competition Commissioner M...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Past mistakes hamper Clearwater’s effort to revive downtown business incentives

Past mistakes hamper Clearwater’s effort to revive downtown business incentives

CLEARWATER — One year after the city’s boldest incentive program yet failed to secure a single business deal for downtown and caused confusion among applicants, the guidelines are being scrapped and rewritten to leave less room for misinterpretation....
Updated: 10 hours ago