The Pros & Cons Of Height Adjustable Desks

One of the current hot office trends is the height adjustable desk. It allows workers the chance to alternate between sitting and standing at their workstation throughout the day. But before foregoing your current traditional desk setup, check out these pros and cons.

Reminder – Why Standing Is Important

Before running through the pros and cons of height adjustable desks, a quick reminder of why standing in the office is seen as so important.

More studies than can be listed in this post have spotted the association between sitting and ill health. Given that office workers spend 35-40 hours of their working week sitting down – before factoring in a driven commute or evenings in front of the TV – our sedentary lifestyle is a worry.

Diabetes, weight gain, back trouble and heart trouble are just a few of the problems associated with people who sit down far too much. The NHS and Harvard University, amongst others,  have both written on the subject, should you want some further reading.

So, standing whilst at the office is one solution. But here’s the pros and cons of height adjustable desks.


The Pros

  1. Alternating Choice
  2. Standing Benefits Health
  3. But So Does Sitting
  4. Standing Aids Weight Control
  5. Aids Concentration
  6. Boost To Productivity

1. Alternating Choice

The second decade of this century has seen the world’s leading workspace designers and thinkers realise that prescribing a single way of working is detrimental to an employee’s health.

Giving staff alternative places to work, like in breakout areas for example, is shown to be beneficial for staff wellbeing, mental health and productivity. Having the choice of where to work empowers staff.

A height adjustable desk is another way of giving staff flexibility in forming their own workspace.

And this is doubly beneficial when you consider the physical benefits it unlocks of being able to alternate between sitting and standing throughout a day in the office.

2. Standing Benefits Health

And standing helps to negate all those health issues which have been firmly associated with spending all day sat at a desk.

Even the world’s greatest ergonomic chairs cannot change the fact that sitting lowers the heart rate and leaves body muscles doing next to no productive work.

Standing instead makes the body exert more energy and kick start positive health changes instead.

3. But So Does Sitting

Sitting gives muscles and joints chance to recover. Especially in older employees and those with muscular skeletal troubles, in particular back pain, being able to take a time sitting down will be hugely beneficial.

Only height adjustable desks afford this choice for an employee without them being allocated two desks.

4. Standing Aids Weight Control

One benefit is a little boost to a person’s weight.

Compared to a traditional sitting desk, a person standing for large swathes of the day instead can burn hundreds of calories throughout the week.

This is because the body’s metabolism slows down when sitting, but standing reignites it and also the body uses energy to keep itself upright.

5. Aids Concentration

Standing up reportedly boosts concentration. People report feeling more “switched on” when stood up and less prone to becoming drowsy.

Also, alternating between sitting and standing means that – like when offering choice in where to work – a change in work setting can give concentration an energy boost.

A change is as good as a rest.

6. Boost To Productivity

Having more energy and being able to alternate between sitting and standing should mean that staff are able to maintain their highest levels of productivity.

There’ll be no excuses for feeling lethargic if they are able to adjust their desk and stand up instead.


The Cons

  1. Work Best With Monitor Screens
  2. Easy To Remain Seated
  3. Redundant Chairs
  4. Aching Limbs
  5. Limited Load Bearing
  6. Appearance

1. Work Best With Monitor Screens

Due to their larger size, superior adjustability and higher resistance to glare, monitor screens are best suited for a height adjustable desk. Otherwise, a laptop naturally leads a person to lean in towards it when stood up and leads to a poor sitting posture too.

This means that staff will need a monitor screen which, for many companies, is further expense.

2. Easy To Remain Seated

Given how accustomed we all are to working at a traditional sitting office desk, it will be far too easy and habitual for employees to remain seated.

Following an early experimentation and novelty driven uptake, lots of employees will take the familiar option of remaining seated. Especially if adjusting the desk between sitting and standing isn’t very straightforward or fast.

3. Redundant Chairs

Once a height adjustable desk is in standing mode, this creates the problem of what to do with the redundant chair. Tucking it under the desk leaves it likely to get in a person’s way, but it cannot be left unattended behind the worker as it will then become a trip hazard.

Instead, if possible, give additional space to store the chair nearby when not in use.

4. Prolonged Standing Aches

Given the long term health benefits associated with working from a standing position as opposed to sitting down, it’s likely that those who do partake in standing will do so for a prolonged period of time.

But doing this often results in aching feet and other body parts. It also limits footwear choice as standing in certain types of shoes will be unbearable.

5. Limited Load Bearing

Many height adjustable desks struggle with what load they can hold on the desk top when compared with a conventional desk. Even a dedicated standing desk, without the adjustable function, will be more suited to heavy load bearing.

This could be a problem for those who want their desk to also carry a printer, books and other paraphernalia.

6. Appearance

And just as the load capacity of some height adjustable desks is limited, so are the options when it comes to design features and aesthetic appearance.

But as they becomes more and more popular, this is likely to become less and less of an issue.


Get Everything You Need

A desk is just one aspect of a contemporary office desk setup, however. See what else each staff member needs and use the checklist documents to keep your online office furniture order organised.

Download this free furniture buying checklist now.

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