Facebook, Google and Twitter are doing it, why aren’t you?
What are they all doing? They all offer their employee’s access to standing desks.
While you may supply standing desks to some of your employees, chances are that everyone at your startup does not have this luxury.
It is a megatrend sweeping Silicon Valley and you would be hard pressed to find an office there that doesn’t have a standing desk. Facebook Australia’s Head of Industry Melinda Petrunoff had this to say, “our employee’s love them and there is a significant return on investment (ROI) to the business”. So what is driving the ROI for progressive companies?
It turns out that there are 5 main drivers:
1. Less sick days
A 2012 VicHealth report estimates that back pain is costing the Australian economy a huge $11 billion every year and employers on average $7,400 per case. It also states that between 11% and 22% of all sick days can be attributed to prolonged sitting. Given the huge cost of sick days to Australian businesses these statistics alone should increase consideration of standing desks.
2. Increased productivity
In a recent study by ReadWrite a group tested standing desks to determine changes in productivity. The test ran over a month and used applications to determine how productive people were. What they discovered was that productivity increased by a whopping 10% when people were standing. Imagine what an additional 10% of productivity out of each employee would do to your output?
3. Healthier workers
Prolonged sitting has been linked to problems with blood glucose control, which affects our ability to break down blood fats. A 2013 BBC study found that when people stand their heart rate goes up by around 10 beats per minute. According to the study this small increase in heart activity converts to around 0.7 calories per minute. If you add this up, it converts to around 50 calories per hour or 30,000 calories per year. In terms of how much fat this is, it is around 4 kg’s of fat per year by doing nothing more than standing at work! Healthier, happier workers mean better workers.
4. Improved focus
When we sit our brain associates it with rest and relaxation. On the flip side our brain associates standing with working. More specifically it is the slight discomfort of standing that forces us to focus in order to get the desired task finished more quickly. Clearly more focus equals better results.
5. Increased life expectancy
The average office worker sits for between 8 – 12 hours a day in front of their computer and TV screens. A 2012 report by Dr Peter T Katzmarzyk found that reducing your sitting time by approximately half can actually increase your life expectancy by up to 2 years. Longevity is clearly a good thing for business.
Similar to smoking, a lot of the risks associated with prolonged sitting cannot be undone by exercising for a few hours a day. The only way to truly make a change is to kick the habit and mix sitting with standing throughout the day.
Like everything, you have to weigh up the costs and the benefits. The great news is that costs are coming down and there are now companies, which allow you to retrofit your current desks. One such company is my own startup ZestDesk. We are currently in the process of developing a revolutionary portable standing desk. The desk will be fully adjustable and can be placed on any desk instantly turning it into a standing desk.
So, will you be an early adopter or laggard in this mega trend?