There has been a notable focus on sit stand desks recently, as scientific studies look to the ergonomic furniture pieces as a way for dealing with the issues of workplace disorders.
A recent Australian study from Deakin University, published in the Scandinavian Journal Of Work, Environment and Health‘s August issue, saying that the pieces not only improve the health of the office workforce, the introduction of sit stand desks could also help companies save money which would have otherwise been spent on their employees’ medical bills, on top of reducing absenteeism.
The paper, Economic Evaluation of a Randomized Controlled Trial of an Intervention To Reduce Office Workers‘ Sitting Time: The ‘Stand Up Victoria’ Trial, studied around 230 desk-based workers, and its findings suggest that the introduction of standing workstations at workplaces would help save 7,492 “health-adjusted life years” in the prevention of obesity and related diseases.
According to the study, however, the cost of using sit-stand workstations are a potential obstacle to widespread use, estimating that the average cost of providing workers with sit stand desks sits at around at AU$344/US$255 for every person.
Lead Researcher Lan Gao, says that sedentary lifestyles have made non-communicable (NCD), like cardiovascular disease, cancers, type II diabetes and chronic respiratory disease, one of the biggest health challenges across the modern world. He says that underlying most NCD, there are several behavioural risk factors, like physical inactivity, which impose significant medical costs on top of the lost profits from reduced work productivity. Gao explains that such costs are either incurred by the companies or the government itself, it is of notable import that society find cost-effective ways to improve the overall physical activity levels of people.
According to the study, if the recommended changes were implemented to 20% of the AU’s office workers, 45% spend most of their time sitting in front of a desk, it would cost about AU$185.2 million.
There are, however, some studies which throw doubt at the efficacy of such desks, saying that they amplify bodily pain as well as slow down cognitive functions. The study, conducted by researchers from fellow Aussie university, Curtin University, say that the prolonged use of standing desks have been linked to discomfort in the lower limbs on top of reducing mental acuity.