Innovative Methods: The Office Desk

Any business big or small has some sort of “office” usually recognized as a place where all the records, bills, telephones, computers, desks and even a refrigerator may be located. Today employees (and especially the boss) are spending more time behind the desks managing paper work, phone calls, and emails. The desk has become so central that I would bet on some days you never actually need to leave your seat so long as you have a bagged lunch in that handy mini-fridge… under the desk. With the desk becoming so important this begs;

The Question: is the current (usual) seat and desk work method the best way accomplishing doing office work?

Recently some publications floating around the web suggest it may not be. Men’s Health magazine pointed to a study of 17,000 men and woman tracked over 13 years and found that people who sit most of the day (including anybody working behind a desk for 6+ hours a day) are a staggering 54% more likely to die of a heart attack. More so we all know that sitting for a long time can screw up your posture, makes you fatter (burn less calories), and can cause lower back pains. Also sitting for long periods is akin to being in a sleeping position which can lead to participants being less mentally awake and less productive than their active counterparts. This all seems dim and grim but remember these study’s focus on people consistently sitting for 6+ hours a day. Plus it’s not only sitting but doing any same activity for an extended period of time is not very healthy. Think about it this way Christopher Reeves became sicker over the years because he was stuck lying in the same position without much change (eventually a pressure wound lead to a fatal infection).

A more flexible desk arrangement

The Solution: Flexibility, Mobility, Variability

It’s suggested that anybody behind a desk for a long time takes breaks about every 30 minutes; or at least changes up their activity or sitting position to get coffee, use the bathroom, etc.

A more creative solution is to adjust the desk itself to be taller. Some people would advocate for a standing desk, something tall enough where as a person could stand and work at comfortably. Several companies are going even further and installing treadmills under “standing workstations” to help keep the employees active (think of the people reading on the bikes or treadmills at the gym). My personal favorite would be a taller desk accompanied by a taller desk chair so that the participant has the options to either sit or stand at their convenience just like an architect’s studio desk (example). I figure why jump straight into a new idea when you can get the best of both worlds.

The Moral of the Story: Mix up your posture and work activities not just for fun but for your physical health as well.

– Joshy G

 

Further Readings
http://health.yahoo.net/experts/menshealth/most-dangerous-thing-youll-do-all-day
http://mashable.com/2011/04/22/stand-up-desks-poll/
http://mashable.com/2011/04/22/standup-desks/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Reeve

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