Don’t waste your money on sit-stand furniture!

This may seem an unusual entreaty from someone who has been selling sit-stand furniture for nearly 20 years but I am becoming more and more exasperated by the half-baked, ill-informed, incomplete and often misleading stories appearing in the press and online about sitting and standing.

If you or your organisation are contemplating buying sit-stand furniture, I want to stop you in your tracks and make you think carefully about how you approach the ‘less sitting’ issue. Otherwise you will waste money, no matter what products you buy.

This statement probably needs some explanation!

You may have seen all the noise in the press, social media and online about the risks of prolonged sitting. Attention-grabbing headlines such as ‘Sitting is the new smoking’ sell newspapers but don’t really help you understand what to do about it. The more you see or read, the more bewildered you will probably become! Academic research can be confusing or inconclusive (or both).

All the evidence supports the statement that many of us are too sedentary but nobody seems to know what is the optimum sitting/ standing ratio. Furthermore, much of the noise completely omits any reference to the need to replace sitting with a variety of activities, not just standing. A lot of apparently validated material is, in reality, a thinly veiled effort to add implied academic rigour to the process of selling sit-stand desks.

The office furniture industry is full of willing salesmen who will be happy to let you replace your existing desks with sit-stand options. But most are selling the product, not the concept.

I have been selling sit-stand furniture since the last century! I understand about the cultural issues of introducing sit-stand, the training requirements and the benefits as well as the problems they may cause. I also know that standing more is only part of the solution. Most people in the furniture industry don’t.

It doesn’t matter whether your motivation is a board level edict, a wellbeing initiative, a desire for best practice or a vociferous colleague with a note from their physiotherapist. Whatever the circumstances, you need to avoid a knee-jerk reaction or a relationship with a poorly informed supplier.

With good quality sit-stand desks now available at under £500 and desktop adaptors available for even less, taking the sit-stand option may seem logical and (comparatively) inexpensive – perhaps even inevitable. However, it will not be money well spent if nobody is using them in six months or if your personnel replace poor sitting postures with poor standing postures.

So please – stop and think before you sit and stand!

8 Responses to Don’t waste your money on sit-stand furniture!

  1. […] the culture change issues surrounding sit-stand or the need to manage their introduction with a Change Management approach rather than a simple case of desk […]

  2. […] office space and fill it with an apparently random selection of brightly coloured soft seating or install sit-stand desks and assume everyone will know how to use […]

  3. […] Most of them have no understanding of the potential culture change that they bring and many provide no proper training in their use. If you have started a sit-stand programme and failed to see the benefits or installed sit-stand […]

  4. […] The deliberately controversial title of last month’s blog created an animated debate and we had great feedback from contacts around the world. It is good to see that so many people are now coming to realise that this is a much bigger issue than simply replacing sitting furniture with sit-stand furniture. The item also generated the busiest ever day on our blog page. If you have not already seen it, the full article is here. […]

  5. james robertson says:

    Guy rightly emphasizes the need for movement. Restlessness is normal and if supressed will lead to aches ,discomfort and even pains. If a change is to be as good as a rest, change from sitting ( ie confinement) at a work station has to include a major change in posture and a period of restlessness, the best forms of which is to walk about.
    This leads to overall office and work process design, with HR and H and S associations on the one hand and productivity on the other! Home working comes to mind, as does the need for progress chasing and interdepartmental networking, and incidental trips…..
    to records, colleagues and customers.

  6. Guy Osmond says:

    Don’t underestimate the importance of training. Having ‘no reason to prevent software developers from …’ is nothing like the same as ‘software developers will take advantage of every opportunity to …’!

    Take a look at the corporate suggestions on the second page of the download at https://guyosmond.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/quick-tips-for-sit-stand-desk-users/

  7. […] This statement probably needs some explanation… […]

  8. Guy, thank you for this article. We are considering sit-stand desks for our developers and your point about the need for a variety of activities is very valuable. Giving this a bit of thought, there is no reason that would prevent software developers from e.g. having a walk-about design session of a new feature.

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