If you’ve ever sat at a desk for hours and found it increasingly difficult to concentrate, you’re not alone. The human body was not designed to sit for eight to 10 hours every single day. Studies show that you shouldn’t sit for longer than three hours at a time. Actually, it’s a smart idea to stand up and move around at least once every 30 minutes. If you go any longer than that, your metabolism will slow by 90%. And your work productivity will drop, too.
There’s an undeniable connection between worker productivity and their workspace. From your desk to the ambient room temperature, seemingly little factors can make a huge impact on your overall productivity.
In this post, we discuss how to increase productivity by making two tweaks to your office—starting with your workstation. First, we’ll break down the benefits of adjustable desks and what to consider when buying these smart workstations for your office. Then, we’ll discuss how to use newer technology to control the temperature in your space.
Let’s get started.
What is a Smart Workstation?
It has many applications, but here’s the basic definition: A workstation is an area where you work, i.e. your desk. In this post, we’ll focus on smart, adjustable desks and how you can use them to bolster team productivity and efficiency.
The Benefits of Smart Workstations
Here’s a quick riddle for you: What do English writer Virginia Woolf, comic-book author Stan Lee, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, and British prime minister Winston Churchill have in common?
Answer: They all used standing desks.
Standing desks have a storied history that may date all the way back to Renaissance polymath Leonardo da Vinci. Why did so many accomplished humans in our shared history use standing desks? We’ll explore some of the proven benefits of standing desks now.
Reduces Back and Neck Pain
Back pain is one of the biggest problems associated with a sedentary job. If you have back pain, your chair may not be the problem—instead, the problem may be sitting down.
According to a study conducted in 2011, an adjustable desk can relieve upper back and neck pain within weeks.
Back and neck pain relief is just the beginning. A standing desk can also reduce your risk of developing serious, long-term medical conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. This study found that prolonged sitting resulted in a 147% increase in the risk for developing cardiovascular problems, such as heart attack, and a 49% increase in the risk of death overall.
By reducing the amount of time you sit, you can add years to your life—literally. This study found that Americans added two years to their life expectancy by reducing their sit time to less than three hours at a time.
You can also lose weight by standing. Standing actually burns more calories than sitting. And if you’re so inclined, some adjustable desks can be equipped with treadmills or exercise bikes to ensure that you burn even more calories as you sit or stand.
Acts as a Health Monitor
Some start workstations can monitor how long you’ve been seated and will automatically remind you to stand up.
The reverse is also true.
If you’ve been standing for too long, which puts you at risk for fatigue and muscle aches, your desk can notify you when it’s time to sit.
Your desk can even alert you to drink more water.
This study found that people who worked at and actively used adjustable desks had more energy. They also experienced an improved mood. Alternating between sitting and standing at work resulted in less stress and anxiety.
Interestingly, after the seven week study, participants who went back to the former, non-adjustable desks also lost all of the benefits they had previously gained. Their energy declined along with their mood.
As we’ve already discussed, sedentary behavior leads to health problems, from back pain to chronic illnesses. This has a domino effect, because when employees are in pain, they’ll visit the doctor more. And they’ll take time off of work to do so.
As a company, you’ll get more productive hours from your employees by upgrading their workstations, and investing in their health.
The final verdict? Standing desks are awesome. Plus, we have an extra advantage that our ancestors never had. Modern standing desks can raise and lower at the touch of a button—or even by voice command.
Standing desks can also work for various professions, from writers to coders to receptionists. Use these smart workstations in different office types, from private to home to coworking.
What to Consider When Shopping for a Smart Workstation
Here are a few questions to answer when choosing a workstation for your office space:
How much space do you have?
You need enough space in your office to accommodate workstations for all of the workers who will use your space. The last thing you want is to have workers fighting over the one or two modern workstations in your office. Fortunately, adjustable desks come in a variety of sizes to meet your individual needs.
What weight capacity do you need?
How much weight do you need the desk to hold? Will the desk need to support multiple monitors and a PC? Will you have other items on the desk, like books, plants, lamps, etc?
How long is the warranty?
If your standing desk has a motor, you need to consider the warranty. Motors will eventually stop working, and you want to make sure that you’re covered if it stops working prematurely. Your desk may also have other electronic components, such as LED touch screen controls and USB charging ports, which need to be covered, too.
Can You Stand Too Long?
While standing at your desk offers a lot of great benefits, it is possible to stand too long. Research shows that you shouldn’t stand still at your desk for longer than two hours. If you do, you may suffer from muscle fatigue, swelling, and declined mental function.Is it possible to stand at your standing desk for too long? Researchers say this is the optimal length of time to stand at work. Click To Tweet
Ideally, you should cycle between sitting and standing throughout the day. Don’t stand for longer than two hours, and don’t sit for longer than two hours.
If your office floor is a hard surface, be sure to use an anti-fatigue mat to reduce muscle ache and tiredness.
What About the Temperature?
Your desk impacts the productivity of your team, but it’s not the only factor. We can’t forget about the role that room temperature plays in the motivation and work output of your team.
Traditionally, HVAC systems have been programmed to cool or heat a space based on maximum occupancy. But what happens if your space is rarely, if ever, at maximum capacity?
Two things: First, your office will suffer from Goldilocks syndrome—it will either be too hot or too cold, but rarely will it be just right. This will create an uncomfortable work environment that ultimately decreases productivity and leads to more errors. Second, you’ll waste energy due to over-ventilation. This leads to higher utility bills and will negatively impact your profit.
So, how do you solve this problem?
On the horizon, researchers are developing technology like COSSY, a smart HVAC control system that detects room occupancy in real time by using thermal sensors and overhead cameras. As that technology is still being worked out, there are other options available to companies who want to be smarter with their energy consumption while also providing a more comfortable working environment.
Many smart thermostats, like Ecobee and Nest, have occupancy sensors that detect when someone enters a space and can switch on automatically. Even better, these thermostats can learn your team’s climate preferences and then program a schedule accordingly.
Introducing smart thermostats into your workspace can improve your worker’s mood and concentration. And as your thermostat learns about your team’s preferences, it will create a more comfortable atmosphere that will directly lead to greater productivity levels.
Office technology has moved beyond computers. Take advantage of smart features in office furniture and thermostat devices to improve workplace productivity.
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