Why Commercial Interior Designers Should Focus on Standing As Well As Sitting Solutions For Offices

Category: Commercial Interiors

Commercial Interior Design

Many businesses rely on the expertise of commercial interior designers for their office design or re-design projects. Yet, in the vast majority of cases, the solutions being offered focus on traditional office desk designs, where employees remain seated in order to carry out their daily tasks.

However, research is increasingly demonstrating the value of including standing solutions into office design, leading to improvements in health and performance amongst employees and resulting in numerous benefits for business owners as well. So why exactly should interior designers focus on standing as well as sitting?

Sedentary Jobs and Sedentary Lifestyles

In the United Kingdom, the average person sits down for an average of 8.9 hours a day, according to a study commissioned by Public Health England. Meanwhile, separate research presented by JustStand.org states that in some cases, people are sitting for as many as 15 hours every day.

Such figures are hardly surprising, given the sedentary nature of modern lifestyles. The Take-a-Stand Project, for example, found that employees are often seated for more than half of their entire working day and office workers regularly spend as much as 75 percent of their day seated, the British Journal of Sports Medicine claims.

Additionally, many people spend much of their leisure time seated in front of the television or at their computer.

Health Risks Associated With Sitting

The American Medical Association argues that sitting for extended periods of time is bad for personal health and this assertion is backed up by a myriad of studies on the subject. Get Britain Standing, a project designed to raise awareness of the problem, claims that sitting for more than four hours a day leads to increased risk of:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Dementia
  • Muscle Degeneration

...and many more health issues.

“For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as [from] smoking.” says Martha Grogan, a cardiologist working for Mayo Clinic. Author and biomedical researcher Dr. David Agus adds to this, claiming that sitting for five or more hours is the equivalent of smoking 1¼ packs of cigarettes.

The Cost to Businesses

Of course, it is not just individual employees who suffer; businesses are also negatively impacted by sedentary working environments. For instance, the TUC estimates that work-related back pain alone costs British companies a combined total of £5bn per annum, due to staff absenteeism.

Moreover, research shows that excess sitting reduces the productivity levels of those in work, while the Centre For Mental Health argues that poor mental health of employees costs the British economy £15.1 billion a year.

“We are creatures of habit and we have come to the wrong conclusion, that sitting is the optimum way of conducting office work,” explains Gavin Bradley, the co-author of an Active Working study on the topic. “We need an environment where people feel much more liberated to do desk standing.”

Interior Design Solutions

Whether they have been hired by a small publisher or an international exhibition company, interior designers should be able to find ways to introduce standing as well as sitting solutions to an office design.

While it is true that sedentary lifestyles are partially caused by established habits and traditional workplace cultures, modern design solutions are possible. Indeed, the Take-a-Stand Project states in its research that “the introduction of devices to stimulate breaks in sitting time have shown promise.”

An extremely basic design step which can be taken by any business, regardless of budget, is the removal of chairs from meeting rooms. As a bonus, this also encourages shorter, more productive meetings. Meanwhile, the installation of wall mounted screens or boards can encourage standing rather than sitting during presentations.

Furthermore, a CDC study backed the implementation of sit-to-stand products, like adjustable desks and desk conversion kits, giving people the option to stand while they work on their computer, or take a telephone call.

Posted 20th November, 2015

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