Science Confirms Why Your Workplace Needs A Standing Desk

Science Confirms Why Your Workplace Needs A Standing Desk

A new report published in the Medical Journal of Australia is urging businesses to adopt a “standing desk” policy to improve office workers’ posture and overall health. According to the paper, not only are non-standing desks bad for you, they could constitute an unsafe working environment if no standing options are provided. Here are a few standing desk hacks to help get your boss on board.

Researchers from Curtin University’s School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science in WA have confirmed what hundreds of Lifehacker readers already knew — standing desks are awesome. So awesome, in fact, that they should be a mandatory requirement in offices around the country. The research paper suggest that doctors should be allowed to prescribe standing in the workplace for at-risk patients, which would effectively force certain businesses to adopt a standing desk culture.

“A doctor who is aware that a patient has a prolapsed disc in the spine would require the patient to refrain from lifting heavy objects at work. In the same way, a doctor who is aware that a patient’s cardiovascular condition necessitates remaining active and avoiding excessive sedentary exposure should inform the patient and employer of the need for the patient to regularly move to maintain wellbeing”, explained head researcher Professor Leon Straker.

According to the paper, over 75 per cent of the office workday is spent sitting, usually in unbroken bouts of at least 30 minutes. This “excessive sitting” can lead to such serious diseases as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease and may cause premature mortality.

“There is now evidence that both overall sedentary time and the pattern of sedentary exposure are associated with substantial harm,” the authors warn. “Some risk reduction strategies, such as introducing standing meetings, are costless. While other strategies have a cost, the cost does not seem disproportionate given the potential for significant harm.”

The Lifehacker headquarters recently switched to standing desk and we’ve noticed a marked improvement in everything from sleep and posture to workplace interactions (i.e. — it’s easier to see everyone else in the office.) If you need further convincing, you can watch us bang on about standing desks in this Allure Media “Outcast/” video.

Keen to make the switch yourself? You can find all manner of DIY standing desk hacks via our Standing Desk tag. Thankfully, there are plenty of affordable options to appease tightarse bosses. Good luck!

Have you ever tried using a standing desk at work? How did you find it? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.

Excessive occupational sitting is not a “safe system of work”: time for doctors to get chatting with patients [Medical Journal of Australia]


  • Having the option is good. Being forced into it is BAD. I just spent 14 hours this weekend, standing largely in the same place for hours at a time. If I’ve got the choice of only standing, or only sitting, for that kind of time, sorry, I am MUCH healthier left sitting. After that 14 hour standup, my back is sore and my ankles hurt from being locked into a 90 degree bend (standing position). In contrast, I can pull those hours at a desk with no worries. I wouldn’t mind standing for a couple hours a day, but more than that, no thank you. Emphatically, no thank you.

    • I agree being forced into standing is bad. I would be able to pull off both 14 hours standing and 14 hours sitting, but I’d be best off mixing it up, allows much better tolerance of pain, helps keep my muscles more relaxed, and switching things up allows for a bit less boredom too.

    • Yep, it definitely has to be a choice. Also, I can imagine that shoes can make a bigger difference then most people realise.

      • @TrickTrevor, good point about the shoes. That definitely would make a difference! As would what a former collaborator called “horse mats” (those cushy large mesh rubber mats that people who stand in one place for a long time often stand on). That said, if my tiny cube (really just a slot in a row, not a full cube, of course) had space for both, I wouldn’t mind “changing it up” a few times a day and standing for an hours or so at a time. I think doing ANY one thing for an excessive amount of time is probably not what humans were designed to do.

  • I’ve been an advocate for standing desks for a long time now, and one of the big mistakes I see is having the Monitor on the same level as the keyboard… Alex… correction, Angus..!
    Looking at the picture above, your head should be looking straight out and horizontal with the monitor, not looking down… The keyboard should be on a lower level, to prevent wrist strain..! I see this quite a bit, particularly from people writing articles about this subject, get it right and standing is the only way to go. Get it wrong and you may as well just sit down..!! Oh… a cheap keyboard plugged into ‘yer lappy on a lower platform..!

    • I wouldn’t mind a standing desk, but it would have to be motorised with memory positions. I don’t have the space for anything else in my apartment, and it needs to be usable as a sitting desk also.

      • I thought about that when I first built mine, but once I got used to it I found I can’t sit in front of my screen at all, unless I’m in the living room in front of the TV with my Ultrabook on my lap… 🙂

  • “This “excessive sitting” can lead to such serious diseases as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease and may cause premature mortality.”

    Ummm, no it can’t. Eating like sh*t AND not exercising can lead to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Having a desk job is not an excuse for being overweight and lazy.

    • Look at the research. Other papers state that the damage done by 8 hours per day of sitting isn’t negated by some exercise added in to your routine, ie, the damage still happens.

    • Science says otherwise. Evidence clearly shows that sitting at your desk for work all day is incredibly unhealthy.

  • I’ve had a standing desk for about 2 years. Well it’s actually a desk add-on that can be moved if needed. The good thing about it is you can move your computer and keyboard and a workspace up and down in less than a second so you can alternate between standing and sitting very easily. I usually stand for about 70-80% of the day at least. It does take some getting used to but is worth a shot if you can try it.

    I also moved to a new department about 5 months ago and now another 4 people in my new dept have got them as they saw mine and loved it.

  • My employer’s pretty good about providing standing options. Recently, standing desks have begun to sprout all over the office like mushrooms 🙂

    The most popular is a Varidesk, which sits on your existing desk and can be raised or lowered as required. It does require some fooling around to get the screen height right and the screen needs to be adjusted whenever you change positions.

    It takes some getting used to but overall, it’s pretty good. I usually take my shoes off while standing. Dunno why, just feels better.

    • That link is more confusing than helpful… It shows what looks like part of a plastic table, and the vid shows precisely nothing..?

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