It is nearly twenty years since we sold our first sit-stand desk but the real growth in interest amongst UK employers has arisen since early in 2014.
Initially driven by publicity about the potential health impacts of sedentary behaviour, employers were bombarded with news, statistics, research and plenty of online ‘noise’ predicting dire consequences if there was not a rapid and immediate transition from traditional office environments to workplaces populated with ‘standing desks’.
Even using the term ‘standing desk’ is misleading to the uninitiated because it implies that simply replacing seated activity with standing activity is the answer. Furthermore, some of the (apparently well-researched and highly reputable) research recommended that we should all aim to stand at our desk for up to four hours per day. The problem, however, has never been about too much sitting: it has been about not enough movement. Standing undoubtedly helps but it is only part of the solution.
The ‘stand for four hours’ rationale has now been widely dismissed and many who really understand the issues will recommend a 30 minute cycle of sitting, standing and movement such as ‘Hedge’s 3S’ cycle proposed by Professor Alan Hedge .
With clearer guidance, employers can make better judgements and the sales enquiries we now receive seem to come more from a ‘good thing to do’ perspective rather than ‘do we really have to do this?’.
What is also significant is that most large employers are opting for 10 – 20% sit-stand, often putting a pair of sit-stand desks at the end of a bank of standard workstations. By contrast, more and more of our ‘mini project’ orders (typically, 10 – 40 desks) are for smaller organisations equipping all of their personnel with a sit-stand option. It seems that these smaller organisations recognise that they are doing much more than changing the furniture: they are introducing a culture change. As a result, they want to embrace that change, recognising the value of the training we provide and appreciating the importance of proper education to ensure users benefit fully from the new furniture and the behaviour opportunities it creates.
It may simply be that the sort of organisations who come to us do so because of our commitment to training and the added value we offer beyond the desks themselves. Or it could be that sit-stand furniture buyers are becoming more sophisticated and demanding a more comprehensive package.
Whatever the explanation I like to think that, after nearly 20 years, the sit-stand market is finally growing up!