Sit-stand workstations in the UK

Recently, I was asked about what employers are doing with sit-stand workstations and this prompted an overview of how I see the UK market at the moment. Whilst subjective, I hope it provides some useful indicators.

In the United States, there has been a strong move to 100% sit-stand in new installations. As a result, this has been reflected in many US-owned companies in Europe.

Motus_HeightDemo_LoResFor other organisations, the picture is much more diverse.

Most large organisations have been using at least some sit-stand workstations for several years in cases where individuals are unable to sit for long periods (typically as a result of a workstation assessment or medical evidence). More widespread use is still comparatively uncommon in the UK. Beyond the (very small) minority who are adopting the 100% sit-stand approach, strategies fall broadly into these categories:

  • Suck It and See – trying small numbers to test user feedback. Typically, these will be individual workstations (one per department or work group) or small clusters (2-4 units).
  • End of the Aisle – a pair of face-to-face sit-stand workstations on the end of each bank of standard desks.
  • Fixed Percentage – a specific proportion of all workstations to be sit-stand. Most commonly, this is 10-20%

ergofit-tEnd of the Aisle and Fixed Percentage programmes nearly always use complete desks but the Suck It and See fraternity often use sit-stand adaptors for rapid deployment and maximum flexibility. The adaptors are also popular where bench desking systems limit or eliminate the possibility of easy sit-stand desk replacements.

Sooner rather than later, employers should formulate a strategy – even if it is a ‘no sit-stand’ policy – to ensure there is a consistent approach to requests from individuals. This ensures the organisation is prepared for employee demands such as ‘My physio says I must have a sit-stand desk’ or ‘It says in the paper that the way I have to work is killing me’.

Most important, employers need to recognise that implementing any sort of sit-stand programme brings a culture change to the workplace because installing sit-stand is as much about the concept as it is about the product. As a result, proper training and education is essential. This should cover not just how to adjust a desk but why users should do that and what they should be trying to achieve.

Motus_ConsoleUseCloseUpLoResFinally, and contrary to much of the publicity around this topic, this whole issue is not about standing more but about sitting less. To be fully effective, therefore, sit-stand should be part of a broader wellbeing initiative that encourages more movement.

You can find further information and more of my articles about sit-stand and related topics here. I would also love to know your own views.

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