Article: Study: Stand-up and work if you want to boost your productivity

Life @ Work

Study: Stand-up and work if you want to boost your productivity

Given the kind of sedentary lifestyle we lead, findings of a study has our eyes pop-out in anticipation of whether this could be true.
Study: Stand-up and work if you want to boost your productivity

“I like being glued to my workstation”, said NOONE, ever! All of us try to get away from our work stations so that we can re-calibrate and refuel to take on the day’s work. After all, none of us wish to put ourselves at risk and fall prey to lifestyle diseases like obesity and heart diseases owing to physical inactivity at work. Having said that, is taking breaks sufficient? What if we say there’s proof that working at stand-capable stations not only improve your overall physical well-being, but also boosts your productivity. Would you embrace this change in style of working and stand up to work? 

It is unbelievable, but in a breakthrough study, researchers at Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health found out that call-center employees, for a pharmaceutical company, who used stand-capable desks were more productive than those who sat and worked.

The study was conducted for a span of six months and the results add to the hype that standing desks have been creating for a few years now. These 167 employees were divided into two groups: one that sat through the day and the other were given stand-capable workstations that could be raised or lowered either when standing or sitting. 

Two key findings: 

  • Employees who used stand-capable desks were 46 percent more productive than traditional desk users, by the end of the six months or the half-year period. 
  • 75 percent of workers who were standing and working reported that they had fewer body aches. 

The productivity levels weren’t impacted in the first month, but did show a rise second month onward. The researchers claimed that this increase in productivity can be attributed to lesser body discomforts. So, if you think of buying ergonomic furniture for your office, think it through. Don’t expect changes in productivity the day you make employees start using them. You should probably explore other ways of making employees feel you are concerned about their well-being. Encourage them to take break by walking for a minute or two, every 20 minutes. Hold stand-up meetings or walking meetings instead of sitting in a conference room for minutes at a stretch. There are a plenty of ways you can encourage movement. 


The researchers had compared two specific groups of call-centre employees, but skeptics have a few pertinent points to raise with regard to this study. They say that employees who used stand-up desks were new employees with only a one to 12 weeks of on-the-job work experience and were taking calls from new clients. They were able to resolve 1.26 calls per hour. On the other hand those who sat and work were those who had been a year or more in the organisation and were taking calls from existing clients; they resolved 0.57 calls per hour. Perhaps, the former group was more productive because they were new and were motivated to prove their mettle and a stand-up desk was a mere coincidence? The results could have been conclusive had a similar set of employees i.e. old employees were divided into control groups rather than new faces? Besides, some work can be done standing like calling or watching a video as compared to work where you might need more cognitive interventions? 

What is your opinion? Do you side with the cynics who have valid points to dismiss the findings? Must employers spend money (this isn’t cheap investment!)? Or are you as employees happy working in a traditional set-up and depend more on taking breaks more often to ensure you aren’t compromising neither your health nor work output. 

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Topics: Life @ Work, Performance Management

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