Chairs, desks and workstations that are created to meet the physical needs of the user are making big changes in today's offices. In fact, ergonomic furniture — like the sit and stand desk — is a hot trend in office design, offering a stylish alternative to clunky seating arrangements and giving workers a more comfortable way to perform the tasks they engage in every day.
Beyond making workers happy, what are the benefits of making the switch to ergonomic furniture? Here are four strong business arguments for upgrading to ergonomic options.
Workers who experience less muscular discomfort in the office could reasonably be expected to work for longer periods of time at peak efficiency, and the data from a study seems to back this notion. When office workers at a call center were given standing desks, their productivity increased approximately 53 percent over six months. The study concluded that "these findings suggest important benefits of employing stand-capable desks in the work force."
While there are several reasons an employee might leave a job, discomfort or pain ranks high on the list. Those who leave their jobs aren't usually very upfront about why they are moving on, but health insurance corporation Humana — which has been using treadmill and stand up desk products since 2010 — is noticing a difference in retention.
Its desks are part of an overall health initiative designed to attract more health-conscious workers who are aware of the negative results of sitting too long. It's fair to assume that a workplace that goes out of its way to make sure employees can do their jobs without pain is one that people will want to stay at for a longer time.
Safer Work Environments
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and other government agencies have been proactive in mitigating some of the more dangerous effects of sitting too long. They have been using standing desks, treadmills desks and sit and stand desks since 2012.
While studies are still being done, the early data is promising; sit-stand desks have shown to reduce total sitting time by 84 to 116 minutes a day. With prolonged sitting currently linked to health risks, such as increased blood pressure, high blood sugar and cholesterol, it makes sense to try to curb sitting in the office.
Lower Benefit Costs
As businesses struggle to keep overhead costs low, a few significant areas of savings include health insurance, worker's compensation insurance and disability claim costs. A healthier workforce is easier and more affordable to insure, and those employees who experience less work absenteeism are generally less costly to support through benefits packages.
A reduction in sick days, fewer accident claims and lower health insurance premiums are just a few of the significant and tangible monetary perks that HR teams can help facilitate by allowing an employee to work at a stand up desk.
In an ideal world, HR managers could make all of their decisions based on what's most beneficial for the worker. Legally, it's in their best interest to do so, as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) specifies that workers have the right to "Working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm." Ultimately, though, profitability must still be considered. The good news is that new products like the sit and stand desk make it possible for companies to put workers' best interests first — and profit as a result.