Standing vs sitting at your desk

2nd Sep 2020

In recent years, it’s become widely accepted that certain aspects of the 9-to-5 office life aren’t the best for workers’ health. Countless studies attest to the long-term health problems that stem from the many hours that employees spent hunched over a screen: it’s a fact that sedentary working puts staff at risk of weight gain, diabetes and heart disease.

But while offices have made an ergonomic breakthrough to tackle the problems of day-long sitting with standing desks, the rise of employees working from home means these issues could rise again. With over 20 of the largest firms in Britain agreeing to work from home in the long term, the question is: how can we ensure that the UK’s workers are ready for this move?

One of the greatest assets in the push for better health when working from home starts with the basics: your working area. Below, we explore some of the best desk options available to those looking for a new and improved home office.

What are the benefits of a standing desk?

An obvious choice to tackle the UK’s seated working problem is more standing. That is where the standing desk comes. Along with getting you up and onto your feet during the day when working from home, there are more specific ways that the standing desk can benefit you. We’ve detailed some of these below.

Help to relieve back and shoulder pain

One of the key benefits of a stand-up desk is that it can help to relieve the back and shoulder problems that huge numbers of those who work on computers complain about. Sitting puts more pressure on the lower back than standing does and can often force the arms to be raised at unnatural angles, causing pain. A standing desk can help encourage better posture and relieve this pain.

Help to reduce stress and improve productivity

Reports show that standing desks reduce stress levels, as sitting down can allow stress to accumulate in your body. Improved concentration and productivity have also been noted by those who work at a standing desk, which could be linked to reduced stress levels.

Help to reduce the risk of serious health issues

A now-infamous 1950s study on sedentary bus drivers and their bus conductor colleagues first found the link between serious illness and sitting for long periods. The drivers were found to be twice as likely to have a heart attack than the conductors, who spent most of their shift on their feet. Simply put, the energy we use to stay standing helps our bodies fend off long-term cardiovascular problems.

Help to burn more calories

It’s true — standing rather than sitting when you’re at work helps to shave off a few calories. While it isn’t a one-stop fix to getting the abs of your dreams, it can certainly help. Studies have shown that standing can help burn around an extra 54 calories a day when compared to staying seated, which is the same as your morning cup of coffee with skimmed milk!

What are the benefits of a seated desk?

Standing at your laptop has some undeniable benefits, but that isn’t to say that taking some time to sit down isn’t necessary. In fact, sitting has a few health benefits of its own.

Sitting can take the pressure off of the legs and feet

Standing for prolonged periods can put serious pressure on your legs and feet. Varicose veins and swelling in the legs and feet are just a few of the ill effects you can expect if you spend too long on your feet. In more serious situations, it can even cause compression of the spine.

It relieves pressure on your back

Some of the unwanted side effects of working in a seated position can be mitigated by simply adopting a good posture. Cornell University found that sitting at a 135-degree angle can relieve some of the pressure put on your lower back during a normal working day. Propping your feet up may have previously been thought of as unprofessional, but it may also contribute to better blood flow.

Standing desks are not laptop-friendly

One common complaint with those who have opted to use a standing desk isn’t helping to mitigate their back pain. This is because some standing desks are naturally optimised for the use of monitors, where a keyboard and mouse would sit much lower than the screen. This isn’t the case for most laptops, meaning the user would have to lean over the desk, putting pressure on the shoulders and back.

So, which should you choose?

As with most things in life, a healthy balance is usually best. When working from home, this means that the most effective option by far is an adjustable sit/stand desk. This allows you to cut down on those dangerous standing hours, while also ensuring there will never be too much stress placed on your lower body.

For some workers, it may be necessary to stick with one style of working. Those with existing conditions in their legs or feet, for example, may want to limit their standing time.

What desks options are there?

Now you’ve discovered the benefits of both styles of desk, it’s time to see what desks are on offer to you. Here is a selection of some of the best standing, seated and adjustable desks on the market.

L-E-VATE Pro Standing Desk

Price: £210 Inc. VAT

For some, it may be easier to turn an existing desk into a standing workspace rather than investing in a whole new desk. This is especially true for those who have recently found themselves working from home and rearranging their living space into an office.

The L-E-VATE Pro is an adjustable desk that can be set up for both sitting and standing, perfect for getting the best of both worlds. Big enough to support a double monitor and featuring a separate platform for your keyboard and mouse, it is a brilliant option for alleviating strain in both the arms and neck.

ECOStanding 6 Height Adjustable Stand-Up Mobile Desk

Offering you the option to stay on your feet when working, as well as get those essential steps in, this desk is perfect for breaking those dangerous sedentary habits. Better still, it is completely adjustable, meaning you can personalise the height your screen sits at to best suit your needs.

ActiveDesking Sit/Stand Workstation White & Silver

Perfect for your home office this desk is completely adjustable between standing and seating positions, allowing you to have your screen at eye-level however you choose to work. Making the change is so simple to do that you’ll be able to swap between standing and sitting throughout the day, limiting your chances of any type of strain or back problems.

ActiveDesking Sit/Stand Corner Workstation

For those with a smaller space or a corner desk, you’re also free to enjoy the benefits of sitting and standing throughout the day. The Sit/Stand corner workspace is a three-legged solution to the strain of staying in one position for long periods, with an adjustable width on each side.

If you’ve been looking for a way to ease your strain and boost productivity during the working day, it would seem that variety is the answer. This, along with a balanced diet and incorporating more active minutes into your usual routine will have you feeling like a whole new person in no time.