Height Adjustable Desks: Changing the way Offices Work

January 9, 2013

Adjustable Height desks improve employees productivity at the office.

Ergonomic height adjustable desks are not just the new cool thing in the business world, like bagels were ten years ago and like kale bars are now. Unlike these “healthy” trends, which can wax and wane with the days of the week, the ergonomic height adjustable desk is in the workplace to stay—and for good reason!  According to a study by Dr. Alan Hedge at Cornell University, using one of these ergonomic height adjustable desks throughout the day at work actually makes workers more productive and healthier over all.

So here is a bit of background on this study: 53 computer-using participants, who reported using a mouse for up to 60 percent of their day and a keyboard for at least 50 percent, were asked to start out at a normal, seated desk. Next, 45 of the participants were asked to use an ergonomic height adjustable desk. They weren’t required to stand up rather than sit down—these ergonomic height adjustable desks could either be high or low, after all—but ultimately the participants decided to stand on their own.

Matter of fact, 81 percent reported standing at least once a day, 18 percent reported standing five or more times a day, and 5 percent reported standing three or more times a day. Overall, those people using the ergonomic height adjustable desks reported standing for over 20 percent of their day.

When Dr. Hedge compared the two groups—those using regular desks and those using ergonomic height adjustable desks—there was a huge decrease in musculoskeletal discomfort. For those using regular desks, the average level of musculoskeletal discomfort (MSD) was a whopping 43.1—just from sitting down! For those using ergonomic height adjustable desks, though, the average MSD was only 35.1—nearly a 20 percent decrease.

Productivity was up in the group using ergonomic height adjustable desks. 57.5 percent of those using ergonomic height adjustable desks reported that their productivity was “somewhat helped” to “definitely helped” by using their desk, whereas only 20 percent of those using a regular, or fixed height desk, reported an increase in productivity.

With an ergonomic height adjustable desk, workers are more productive in a couple of different ways. First of all, with an ergonomic desk employees can take fewer breaks, because they can move around while they’re still working (I’m doing it right now, actually. Can you guess which song I’m dancing at my desk to?)

Second of all, ergonomic height adjustable desks physically make employees more productive, because when you switch between standing and sitting, your metabolism, circulation, and energy increases. Ultimately this leads to less grogginess and improved efficiency in workers.

And who doesn’t want that?

All over the world, hundreds of companies like Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Google, offer their employees ergonomic height adjustable desks and even treadmill options (Yes, treadmills). The rise in the ergonomic height adjustable desk goes far beyond Silicon Valley though. Schools all over the country are starting to implement them into the classrooms. The National Institute of Health uses them and employees at the FBI and the Mayo Clinic are even standing up at work.

These are companies known for being productive—they have to be! So take a leaf out of their books: Bring ergonomic height adjustable desks into your work place for healthier, happier, and more productive employees.

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