How Standing Desks Increase Productivity - backed by Research

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Do Standing Desks Boost Productivity?

When you think about some of the most productive people in history, you may automatically think of people like Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ben Franklin, and Ernest Hemingway.

While each of these great thinkers provided a different contribution to society, they had one thing in common—they all worked at a standing desk.

So, the idea of working at a standing desk to increase health and boost productivity is not new. In fact, in a letter sent on July 5th, 1777, a famous writer once wrote:

“I am concerned, lest you should injure your health by too close an application to your studies. Walk out often; and when you write or read, be sure to keep yourself in as upright a posture as you can. Write upon an inclined plane, but a standing desk is best. Nothing is more injurious to the health of young divines and students than stooping.”

While there are many instances throughout history of great individuals working at a standing desk to boost health and creativity levels, you don’t have to take anecdotal evidence at its word. There are several modern-day studies that give credence to the notion that working at a standing desk increases productivity rates at work. Let’s take a closer look at these studies, and see what they tell us...


1. 45% Boost in Productivity at a Call Center After a Standing Desk Intervention

In a study published by Taylor & Francis, researchers compared productivity between stand-capable desk users and traditional seated desk users in a call center environment.

Researchers evaluated data that was collected over a 6-month period with 167 employees. The control group remained seated during the 6 months, and the variable group used standing desks. This was the only difference in the workplace environment.

The results of this 6 month study were as follows:

  • Users of stand-capable desks were ∼45% more productive on a daily basis compared to seated employees
  • Productivity of the stand-capable desk employees increased over time, from ∼23% in the 1st month to ∼53% over the next 6 months

That's a pretty powerful increase, and one can only imagine the economic benefit that would result from such boosts in productivity.


2. 65% Increase in Productivity Rates - ASIDF Study

Call centers aren’t the only workplace environment that benefits from standing desks. In a study, funded by the American Society of Interior Designers Foundation’s (ASIDF) Transform Grant, researchers evaluated behavioral changes in office workers that used sit-to-stand desks and workers that used traditional sitting desks.

Data was collected at a three-month mark, six-month mark, and the twelve-month mark. Results showed that workers who used standing desks were more productive, comfortable, and healthy at work. Significant results include:

  • 88 percent of participants who received the adjustable workstations reported that they were convenient to use
  • 65 percent reported increased productivity
  • 65 percent indicated that standing desks positively impacted their health outside of the workplace

Interestingly, participants with adjustable workstations also self-reported better concentration - likely a major cause of the apparent boost in productivity.

Overall, study once again demonstrated that sit-to-stand desks reduced sedentary behavior, improved health, and lead to a quantifiable increase in productivity in the work place.


3. The SMArT Work Trial

SMArT = Stand More At Work  (yes... it's a bit of a stretch)

Another study published by the BMJ evaluated the impact of a Stand More At Work Intervention (SMArT), which included giving one group a height-adjustable desk, instructions for sitting and standing targets, feedback on sitting vs. physical activity, a goal-setting booklet, coaching sessions, and a self-monitoring/prompt tool. The control group had no interventions.

The results showed that there were several differences between the control group that had no interventions and the group that was offered a height-adjustable desk and encouraged to stand and move more at work. Results saw improvements in:

  • Standing time
  • Job performance
  • Work engagement
  • Occupational fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Sickness and presenteeism
  • Quality of life

SMArT and standing desk productivity


4. Productivity of School Children using Standing Desks

It’s important to remember that full-time employees aren’t the only social group that faces health risks because of sitting too long. School children are also desk-bound for most of the day.

In an effort to see whether or not standing desks improve productivity rates as school, researchers from the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Texas A&M School of Public Health conducted a critical study.

This study evaluated the cognitive outcomes (e.g., improvements in executive functioning and working memory, frontal brain function, etc.) of children using standing desks at school.

34 freshman high school students used standing desks and were tested in the fall and spring after just over 27 weeks of continued exposure.

Results showed that students that continually used standing desks showed significant improvements in executive function and working memory capabilities.

While not a direct study of productivity, the findings of this research certainly infer that the cognitive and productivity gains experienced in the work place, can also be replicated with students.


Wrap Up

The studies mentioned above all evaluate the effects of standing desks introduced into either a workplace environment or a school. The results all show significant boosts in productivity as well as in cognitive function.

It’s important to note that some studies that suggest being on your feet all day can decrease comfort and lead to decreases in productivity.

But it’s important that we remember that modern standing desks are height adjustable - so these studies aren’t really relevant to you, unless your work requires you to stand all day.

The larger point is that the benefits of standing desks go beyond just our health. There is now real science that tells us that standing desks can have economic and developmental benefits, as well - on a personal level, and for society.

We encourage you to give it a try for yourself, and let us know how it goes!


*Click here to learn more about all of the benefits of using a standing desk

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