In the UK, there has been a tendency to treat workplace design as a cost and not an investment, in Denmark it is mandatory for employers to offer their staff sit-stand desks.
In fact, in Sweden, sit-stand working is so commonplace that our Nordic colleagues are perplexed by how slow the UK has been to catch up. The expectation of varying working positions throughout the day is so widespread across Scandinavia that over 80 percent of Swedish, Danish, Finnish and Norwegian office workers already use sit stand workstations.
Despite sit-stand working still being in its infancy in the UK, with only 2 percent of knowledge workers having access to height adjustable workstations, there is plenty of compelling evidence, and a groundswell of expert opinion, to suggest that the UK office is going to have to get off its backside pretty soon.
The whole concept of sitting as the norm in workplaces is a recent innovation, points out Jeremy Myerson, professor of design at the Royal College of Art. “If you look at the late 19th Century,” he says, Victorian clerks could stand at their desks and “moved around a lot more”.
“It’s possible to look back at the industrial office of the past 100 years or so as some kind of weird aberration in a 1,000-year continuum of work where we’ve always moved around.”
In 2013, almost 31 million days of work were lost due to back, neck and muscle problems, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The ONS’s Labour Force Survey, which polls hundreds of thousands of people in the UK, found that musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions, which include a large range of bone and joint complaints, accounted for more prolonged absences than any other ailment.
US firm General Electric’s British plant in Groby, Leicestershire, is considering giving staff a choice. “It’s becoming more well known that long periods of sedentary behaviour has an adverse effect on health,” says GE engineer Jonathan McGregor, “so we’re looking at bringing in standing desks.”
Standing desks don’t have to be an expensive option, you can hire a variety of sit stand desks in the UK from hiredesks.co.uk from as little as £10.50 per week.