Ergonomics and the standing desk

Work. 2018;60(2):171-174. doi: 10.3233/WOR-182736.


There has been a recent trend in the integration of sit-stand option desks in the work place. Fear-based advertising insinuating that sitting is the health equivalent of smoking has pervaded many work environments. As workers want to remain healthy and pain free, and employers want and need a healthy workforce, it appears that there is a pervasive trend of avoiding sitting as often as possible. Because work tasks that call for an extensive amount of sitting are often times computer-based, this 'standing is healthy' fad is most notably presenting itself at computer-based work stations. The understandably perceived simple fix to the dilemma of sitting, has been the introduction of the sit-stand desk. However, before we all throw out our chairs, it is important to discuss the past and recent research that indicates that prolonged standing can also have detrimental effects on the human system. It is crucial that we expand our idea of a healthy work environment to one that facilitates movement and change in position and empowers the worker to understand their role in their own musculoskeletal and physiological health and wellness, beyond the use of equipment. If we can replace the phrase, 'sitting is the new smoking' with the phrase, 'sedentary is the new smoking', then we can elucidate the idea of what a healthy computer-based work environment and routine would be.

Keywords: Ergonomics; health and wellness; occupational therapy; preventative care; sedentary behavior; standing desks; workplace ergonomics; workplace health.

MeSH terms

  • Ergonomics / methods
  • Ergonomics / standards*
  • Humans
  • Interior Design and Furnishings / standards*
  • Occupational Health
  • Office Management*
  • Standing Position*
  • Workplace / standards