Recently, there has been a flurry of articles promoting standing while working. One article I read featured a statistic so compelling – that by standing at work for an entire week you would burn the same number of calories as running a marathon – that I had to research the concept further.

The standing desk is not a new phenomenon. In fact, in Scandinavia, 90% of workers have access to a standing workstation and it is mandatory for employers in Denmark to offer staff sit-stand desks. While I fully embrace and advocate increased movement while at work, I do wonder if a truly standing workplace is feasible. In the UK, health experts have begun recommending that individuals should aim to stand at least two hours a day during working hours. The British Heart Foundation has also endorsed a Get Britain Standing campaign, which challenges office-based workers to sit less. The campaign suggests that office workers stand during calls, meetings, use the stairs more and generally move around a bit more. This is something I wholeheartedly support, but may need to put into practice more often.

Art deco furnishings combines with modern ergonomics

Art deco furnishings combine with modern ergonomics.

At Morgan Lovell, we have plenty of clients who ask us about standing workstations and sit-stand solutions, yet only 1% of UK workers have access to sit-stand adjustable desks. Why is this? And what would need to happen to increase this percentage? The simple answer is the workplace revolution. While the health benefits are certainly a strong motivation, I can’t see a seismic increase in the adoption of sit-stand workstations in the UK in the near future.

Office design can impact staff movement in a number of subtle ways, whether it’s by creating a space that facilitates movement, the addition of collaborative spaces, comfortable breakout areas, standing meeting areas and in some cases, simply placing key facilities such as toilets and kitchen areas further away.

Any major increase in standing at work would inevitably impact office design as old furniture would need to be removed and replaced with new sit-stand desks. In some cases, this could require companies to completely rethink their office layout.

However, choice is important and there’s a balance to be struck between standing and sitting at work. Promoting a culture of movement is important, as is offering staff the option to access standing workstations. While I can’t foresee a Scandinavian-style widespread adoption of standing workstations any time soon, as organisations begin to incorporate wellbeing into office design, we will see an increase in popularity.

Cat A Plus office space with exposed concrete ceilings

Cat A Plus office space with exposed concrete ceilings.