Taking a Stand: The Effects of Standing Desks on Task Performance and Engagement

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017 Aug 21;14(8):939. doi: 10.3390/ijerph14080939.


Time spent sitting is associated with negative health outcomes, motivating some individuals to adopt standing desk workstations. This study represents the first investigation of the effects of standing desk use on reading comprehension and creativity. In a counterbalanced, within-subjects design, 96 participants completed reading comprehension and creativity tasks while both sitting and standing. Participants self-reported their mood during the tasks and also responded to measures of expended effort and task difficulty. In addition, participants indicated whether they expected that they would perform better on work-relevant tasks while sitting or standing. Despite participants' beliefs that they would perform worse on most tasks while standing, body position did not affect reading comprehension or creativity performance, nor did it affect perceptions of effort or difficulty. Mood was also unaffected by position, with a few exceptions: Participants exhibited greater task engagement (i.e., interest, enthusiasm, and alertness) and less comfort while standing rather than sitting. In sum, performance and psychological experience as related to task completion were nearly entirely uninfluenced by acute (~30-min) standing desk use.

Keywords: creativity; engagement; performance; reading comprehension; sit-stand workstation; standing desk.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Comprehension
  • Creativity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Posture*
  • Reading*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Workplace*
  • Young Adult