The Surprising Benefits of Sit-to-Stand
When the facility where Ron Reeves works was redesigned recently, there was only one thing he insisted on: a sit-to-stand desk. Although only 32, Reeves has three herniated discs and arthritis, something he discovered when he injured his back playing basketball.
Suddenly, sitting all day wasn’t an option. Not that he’d ever liked doing that, anyway. Reeves served in the Navy before going to college, and in both settings, constant movement was a way of life. He also played basketball and football and worked out regularly during those years.
“To come into an office setting and suddenly be so sedentary was daunting,” Ron says. He fidgeted his way through the morning and “by lunch I’d literally be bouncing off the walls.”
He knew that Herman Miller made sit-to-stand desks and requested one. It was awkward at first to be the only one standing as he worked, but it took only a week to get used to it.
Being able to switch from sitting to standing throughout the day helps Ron manage his back pain and release some energy. That makes it easier to focus. His role in corporate communications involves a lot of time on the phone, and much of the time he takes those calls on his feet.
The only thing Reeves doesn’t prefer to do while standing is heads-down writing. On a typical day, he splits his time pretty evenly between sitting and standing. But there are some days where he sits most of the day. He chooses based on his energy level and level of back pain. And when he does sit, he’s lucky enough to be in one of Herman Miller’s high performance work chairs, Embody.
Sit-to-stand desks aren’t only for the super active or those who are hurting. Herman Miller is an advocate of health-positive work environments—environments that help you stay healthy, instead of just addressing injuries when they occur.
Dustin Verbeek, an e-marketing project manager at Herman Miller, doesn’t have any health problems; he just likes the postural variety that the sit-to-stand desk provides. He’s found it has other surprising benefits, as well. “Working standing up gives you a different perspective and helps spark creativity,” he says. “I’ve found that I also have more impromptu meetings. It seems like people find you more approachable when you’re standing up.”
A look at Ron's day:
7:00 a.m.: Ron arrives early, the best time to “get real work done,” and sits while setting his priorities for the day and responding to email. 4:00 p.m.: Ron also spends the last hour of the day sitting while he wraps up his work.
10:30 a.m: Phone calls, lots of them! But being able to move around as he talks improves his focus.
2:30 p.m: On the phone—and on his feet—again. In an open design like this, standing increases visibility and eye contact. Is it awkward? “Not for me, but I can see where it would be at first for others. You get used to it and you quickly see how it increases communication.”