Sit-Stand-Perch – Exploring the Third Option

August 9, 2017

WDMheader2016-04It is ironical that perching, the ‘third way’ in the sit-stand conversation, first became topical a few decades ago during discussions about standing too much!

Historically, there have been many logical applications for perching in manufacturing environments as a way to reduce the standing time for machine operators and process personnel without the productivity loss which can arise from frequent changes between sitting and standing. You will also see perching stools in galleries and museums so that attendants do not have to stand for their entire shift. The principal benefits of perching in such situations are an open pelvic angle for better spinal posture; reduced risk of slouching thereby encouraging better breathing; quicker and easier transition to standing height which can impact productivity and, in customer-facing applications, better eye-contact with others who are standing.

There are several ways of achieving a perching posture in an office application and chair designers and manufacturers have created many innovative approaches to the topic – with varying degrees of success! This article will not be an analysis of these different approaches but I will use three office-focused designs to illustrate the diversity available and help you to make your own decisions or, at least, ask the right questions. It is quite possible that other chair promoters and manufacturers will respond with ‘why mine is best’ comments below! As always, my advice is to beware of advertising disguised as advice.

muvmanFor a modern approach to the traditional ‘bus stop’ perch, the Muvman provides a simple, comfortable seat with a spring in the height-adjustable stem and a patented movable joint in the base. This allows a dynamic sitting posture with natural movement which most people find ‘surprisingly comfortable’. The only adjustment is for gas-stem height and, for stability, the base has no castors and is quite heavy.


twizzy_saddle_seatThe saddle stool concept is widely available in a range of shapes and sizes. This sort of seating is popular with dentists, podiatrists and in some manufacturing environments but less common in offices. The saddle posture allows the user to sit at, typically, 50-70% of standing height but it is important to specify a gas stem that will go high enough (this may not be the default option). For anatomical reasons, an adjustable forward tilt will usually be desirable for male users. It is also important to note that it is not easy to judge what shape saddle any individual will prefer. Over the years, we have experimented on the basis or male/female pelvis shape, buttock width and thigh girth – without arriving at any reliable conclusions! If you are purchasing for an individual, be sure to carry out a trial first and if you are buying for multiple users, choose a mixture of models. Be aware, also, that some users simply cannot live with the saddle concept.

HAG Capisco back-to-backThe Capisco has been established for many years and takes a very different approach. With a suitably high gas stem, this chair offers traditional sitting, saddle-style sitting and reverse sitting (with the chair back supporting the sternum).  Some employers also use these with fixed-height high desks, adding a foot ring to allow a traditional sitting posture at height. For employers who want dynamic sitting and a stylish, unique look, Capisco can be used as a single solution to the sit-perch-stand approach.

Other models, each with their own story, can be viewed on our web site here.

It is also worth considering how such models can be deployed. Many may require both a traditional chair and a perching stool/chair. Do you have enough space? Alternatively, can you provide sit-stand (or stand only) desks without a traditional chair and just the sit-perch option?

As always, it is essential to ensure that, whatever configuration you decide on is fully supported by quality training.

Workplace Design & Management April/ May 2016

April 22, 2016

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 21/04/2016. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.


WDMheader2016-04 (1)

As the demand for sit-stand desks continues, we are proud to offer a product that provides two-stage height adjustment (625mm – 1245mm) and a four-memory controller at a price that competes with a well-known Scandinavian furniture store! We have already completed many successful installations and the product is available directly from our warehouse with a range of worktop sizes and finishes. A three leg version for cockpit-shaped worktops will also be available soon. We also offer a comprehensive installation, set-up and user training service. Find out more and view our Motus video here.


facilities_showWe have just booked our space for this year’s event so you will be able to find us on Stand M1305 which is just inside entrance 2. We like to keep our exhibition options open as late as possible so we shall decide what to display nearer the time. You can expect to see products that illustrate the latest thinking in Agile Working and Workplace Design together with information about the many support services and resources we offer to complement the furniture. Make a diary note if you haven’t already!



Now in its 7th year, this international event has grown into a significant showcase of the best products and ideas available. The mix of open-house showrooms, exhibitions, presentations and events provides an outstanding opportunity to see and hear the latest thinking in the world of workplace design. We shall be there each day so let us know if you want to meet up to discuss ideas or look at specific products.


ISOThe commercial and productivity arguments for good staff health and wellbeing are now manifest and dynamic employers have this at the centre of their business thinking. This new international standard provides guidance for executive board members and policy makers within organisations of all sizes and types. It considers essential values and beliefs and explains the seven principles which characterise a human-centred employer.


optima-lifeOptima-life works with organisations that want to help their employees achieve more, both at and away from work. Their salutogenic approach aims to keep people energised and resilient, as they seek to engage and educate people. Using a blend of technology, coaching/training and support tools, the team provides bespoke offerings tailored to an organisation’s needs. The result is a culture where performance and purpose are increased and the risks of organisational stress, fatigue, and burnout are reduced.

How much should I stand at work?

March 7, 2016

newspaper_headlines_600As the debate about too much sitting rages on, there are many misunderstandings. ‘How much should I stand at work?’ is a question we are asked frequently but, like ‘What is the best office chair?’, it is one of those ‘not really the right question’ questions. Thanks to the reach and diversity of the ‘net, the volume of information on the topic – impartial research, marketing blurb pretending to be research, informed opinion, ill-informed opinion and downright nonsense – continues to grow and, for many, the newspaper headlines and conflicting messages are bewildering.

When people ask me about the ‘right’ amount of time to sit and stand, I jokingly ask them to give me a figure that suits their needs and I will find them some research to support that figure! As a non-academic, it seems to me that researchers always say that more research is needed (possibly because they are actively seeking funding to extend their research?) but they are not always good at looking objectively at existing research, especially if it may contradict theirs (possibly because they are actively seeking funding to extend their research?).

Sometimes, history is completely ignored. Reports as far back as the nineteenth century and significant research from the 1980s onwards identify musculo-skeletal symptoms associated with long periods of standing amongst retail workers and others. Yet, the Consensus Statement published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) in 2015 concludes that those whose jobs are predominantly desk-based should “progress towards accumulating 2 hours per day of standing and light activity (light walking) during working hours, eventually progressing to a total accumulation of 4 hours per day”.

I have already stated that I am not an academic and I must also make it clear that I have no medical training either but, as one who has spent over twenty years working in the field of workplace ergonomics, it seems to me that the research basis for the BJSM paper makes cardiovascular issues its focus and ignores or trivialises the musculo-skeletal considerations. I know many people who could not possibly stand for as much as four hours a day, yet a document with the Public Health England logo in its header advises them to do so.

No wonder there is so much confusion!

what-can-we-learn-from-spacePrompted by the disparity in advice and encouraged by recent conversations with professional colleagues and friends, I have been looking for research-based recommendations that we may be more confident about. As a result, I have been reading ‘Sitting Kills, Moving Heals’ by Dr Joan Vernikos, former NASA Director of Life Sciences.

At first glance, the cover has the look of one of those slightly dubious self-published, self-help books but the content is based on thirty years of NASA research and experience. It was published in 2011 (more work that was apparently ignored or overlooked in the BJSM conclusions) but is particularly topical at the moment since British astronaut Tim Peake has been carrying out cardiovascular research on the International Space Station.

In simple terms, Dr Vernikos’ primary recommendation to reduce the cardiovascular risks of prolonged sitting is to stand up often. Her work concludes that the length of time standing is not relevant but the number of times you stand up is what matters. In other words, standing up ten times for two minutes is ten times more effective than standing up once for twenty minutes. The answer to the question ‘How much should I stand at work?’ is therefore little and often. A couple of minutes a few times an hour should suffice. Remember, though, that this must be throughout your waking hours, not just at work. Obviously, other elements of a healthy lifestyle will also help and we continue to recommend all our other sit-stand tips.

Of course, the 150-page book contains much more than one simple recommendation and the history, background, medical and scientific explanation makes an easy, enjoyable read. It is likely I shall blog further about this in due course.

In the meantime, I look forward to being challenged about this article! What do you think?

Tablet User Survey results

January 13, 2016

Tablet_User_BusinessThe results of our recent survey of tablet computer users are shown below.

Key findings:

  • Only 20.5% of respondents have a tablet supplied by their employer but 81.8% are using their tablet for at least some work application(s).
  • 71.7% are provided with no accessories to improve posture when using their tablet in the office.
  • 71.6% are provided with no accessories to improve posture when using their tablet away from the office.
  • 43.2% have experienced musculo-skeletal pain which they attribute to tablet use.
  • Of these, 7.1% have had time off work.
  • Of those who have received posture guidance and/or training for tablet use, 63% had found it themselves.
















Please contact us for a more detailed pdf summary of our findings.

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

July 8, 2015

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!

Active desks – a step too far?

April 10, 2013

LakeDistrictViewApple crumble & custard. Morecambe & Wise. Long walks & the Lake District. Some combinations just work well together.

Other pairings may be worthy individually but less so when united. I would put driving & texting, Rachel & Joey, walking & typing, and cycling & mousing into the latter category.

Treadmill DeskRecent discussions and headline-grabbing stories about the adverse effects of long-term sitting have brought “active desks” back into the limelight. (Active desks provide the user with facilities to walk, cycle or even use a recumbent elliptical trainer when working at an appropriate height desk). I first saw these at an exhibition in the US several years ago and, despite the plausible sales pitch, I was sceptical from the outset.

My issue with these products is that, like physio balls and kneeling chairs before them, their application in the workplace can be misunderstood and, as a result, misapplied.

Walking and other forms of exercise are obviously “a good thing” but how can you combine this effectively with computer work (which is what the majority of us do at our desk most of the time)?

Passive audio/video activities (webinars, podcasts) are viable with an active workstation – after all, we can watch TV whilst exercising  in the gym. By contrast, typing and mousing require a level of accuracy best accomplished when the upper body is stationary. Productivity will therefore decline significantly. For example, users report dramatic increases in typing errors.

Like physio balls, which are highly effective in their proper context (to strengthen core stability muscles through a proper exercise programme), use in the workplace can be counter-productive or even injury-inducing.

In my view, traditional sit-stand workstations, in combination with other exercise methods, are a better solution (and not just because we sell them!). Not only are they cheaper, they also give the user the opportunity to enjoy a mix of sitting and standing activities throughout the day.  This should always be combined with training and education about other simple activities like stretching breaks, walking meetings, using the stairs, parking at the opposite end of the car park and the many other ways that individuals can improve their health and their productivity without any cost to themselves or their employer.

Car ParkPerhaps my subject should be “Active desks – What’s the point?”

I hope I can look forward to some heated debate about this topic – either online or in person!

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