THERE IS A TOPOGRAPHICAL SHIFT UNDERWAY in
offices around the world. Across the sea of cubicles, pods,
egalitarian-shared picnic benches, and even old-fashioned pri-vate-room-with-a-door offices, standing desks are adding a
vertical dimension to the interiors of progressive office spaces.
These desks—some fixed at heights meant to be used while
standing, some adjustable for standing or sitting—are becoming
increasingly common objects in office environments.
Sitting at a desk all day, often with poor posture and little overall motion, is known to have negative effects on the human body,
with risks ranging from obesity and back problems to heart disease
and other complications related to sedentary behavior. Standing
at a desk, by contrast, substantially reduces worker reports of
muscular-skeletal discomfort and lowers fatigue, while supporting workers’ ability to change posture more readily, according to
Alan Hedge, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Design and
Environmental Analysis at Cornell University and an expert in
workplace ergonomics. Standing desks, or sit-stand desks as the
most common and adjustable desks are known, are seen by many
as a healthier way to work.
“Employees and employers alike are seeking interventions,”
says Betsey Banker, vertical marketing manager at furniture-maker
Ergotron. She says demand for adjustable desks is growing across
many sectors. “Sit-stand solutions are especially popular in call centers where breaks are infrequent and movement is typically absent.”
ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL
Adjustable desks have been around since the 1980s, but they have
only recently become affordable for a large segment of the market.
“You can now buy a desk that allows you to adjust the furniture
height for pretty well the same price as a regular desk,” Hedge says.
There are plenty of options on the market, with a variety of
mechanisms for changing the surface height. Sit-stand desks
typically fall into three categories: hand-crank, electric, and counter-balanced. Desks with a crank tend to be the cheapest, and require
the user to manually turn a handle to raise or lower the desk. Electric
desks are typically operated by pushing buttons to adjust the height
or to bring them to pre-set positions. Counter-balanced desks are
manually operated but easier to adjust than hand-crank models.
“We rarely recommend manual or crank,” says Deborah Read,
1. Sit-stand desks, like
the Kinetic Desk F1
from Stir, can help