Do Standing Desks Live up to the Hype?
Standing desks have got more popular in recent years, it would be easy to discount them as the latest office productivity fad. And while there may be a bit of that going on, there’s actually quite a bit of research that suggests that adjustable height desks can have a positive impact on your life.
Whether it takes the form of standing desk converters or fully functional standing desks, these devices could improve both your productivity and your health. Here are some of the advantages that standing desks provide.
Research is still early on, and preliminary medical and scientific information should always be treated with some level of caution. But early studies on people who use standing desks in the office demonstrate that there could be some powerful benefits to your health.
Lower Risks of Obesity
We generally tend to frame the role of weight loss into very reductive terms. We relate how much weight we lose to calories burned which are directly a result of how active we are for an extended period of time. But we can focus so much on our exercise routines that we can fail to think about the little changes we can make in our lives to chip off a calorie here or there.
We likely won’t be able to ditch the office for a life of hunting and gathering anytime soon, but using standing options in the the form of standing desk mats or more permanent options can allow us to work off the pounds that build up during the 9 to 5 routine.
Assuming a balanced schedule of standing and sitting, that could mean an extra 750 to 1000 calories burnt a week without having to go to the gym. Over the course of a year, that could add up to almost 10 pounds lost. It’s certainly not a replacement for a healthy diet and exercise, but it’s a small decision that can make a big difference in the long run.
Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
Over six decades of research have come to the conclusion that standing may have a positive impact on your heart health. A 1953 study identified that bus drivers, who spend almost their entire work days sitting, had a much higher risk of heart disease than their peers.
It’s an analysis that’s been retested in sample sizes as large as 800,000, and the results always come out the same. In fact, the levels of risk are shocking. Those who live a sedentary lifestyle are almost double as likely to die of cardiovascular disease as their more active peers, and they have two and a half times the risk of a cardiovascular event. Heart disease is an especially prevalent threat in the United States, and the risks to heart health that come from sitting is some of the most conclusive evidence that employing a standing desk can have a dramatic impact on your health.
It’s not just the case for cubicle workers either. Gamers can benefit from gaming desks that offer a standing option as well, and anyone who finds themselves sitting for long periods of time should look for an alternative option that allows them to stretch their leagues and get the blood flow pumping, even if they can’t find the time to hit the gym.
Less Back Pain
While blue collar office workers may not have to worry about losing their hand in a grain thresher or acquiring black lung in the mines, that doesn’t mean that injuries among traditional 9 to 5 office workers aren’t prevalent and worth taking seriously. Roughly four out of five adults will complain about back pain in their lifetime, and there seems to be a direct correlation between long hours in the office and back pain.
There are studies to back this up as well. 2011’s Take a Stand Project demonstrated that spending about an hour of your work day standing rather than sitting could result in back pain being cut roughly in half. And the results weren’t applicable just to back pain either. Other common issues like neck and leg pain were also shown to be less chronic in those who took the time to stand semi-regularly. And respondents started feeling the positive effects of these strategies in as little as four weeks.
The problem with chronic pain is that it quickly becomes easy to ignore, and you can lose track of what life used to feel like before the pain. Just because you don’t think about the pain doesn’t mean it’s not there. Employing a standing desk can help you cut the issue off at the past and mitigate the issues before they become even more severe.
Longer Life Span
It’s easy to look at all of these circumstances in a vacuum without getting a look at the big picture, but when you combine factors like heart disease, general pain, and blood sugar, it paints a pretty rough picture for a sedentary lifestyle. Add in the fact that a sedentary lifestyle could be associated with certain forms of cancer as well and the expectations become even more grim. When you take things into perspective like this, it becomes clear that spending all your time sitting can actually have a meaningful impact on your expected lifespan.
18 studies have recently been analysed for their connecting conclusions, and the research seems to align to tell a worrying story: that the people who spend the most time sitting are 49% more at risk of premature death than those who spend the least time sitting.
That’s not to say that sitting more will cause you to live a shorter life, as there are too many factors to draw a direct cause and effect relationship, but this connection is well worth examining. One particular study indicated that simply spending three hours less of your time sitting a day could increase an America’s life expectancy by three years.
The direct impact that a standing desk can have on your overall physical health will be a factor motivating enough for many people to adopt a standing desk, but it can also have an effect on your general emotional and mental well-being. Or at least that’s what many studies seem to indicate.
If you’re trying to convince your boss to allow you to get a standing desk, or you’re a manager looking at ways to improve the general company culture at your office, you may want to examine some of the benefits that come from a standing desk. Just keep in mind that as with the health concerns, studies involving standing desks are often still very young.
Increased Mood and Energy
We often tend to look at our mood as something internal that’s only marginally affected by our outside circumstances, but it’s foolish to underestimate the direct correlation between our environment, our physical health, and our emotional well-being. How we posture ourselves can affect our blood flow and our general mental acuity, and a few studies seem to tell us that standing generally has a more positive effect than sitting.
All of that seems in line with studies that indicate that a sedentary lifestyle strongly correlates with higher levels of anxiety and depression. Happier employees are good for most businesses, and employing standing desks in the office may be able to improve the company culture in a pretty meaningful way.
While the health of every employee should be important, standing desks can be advantageous even looking at the results in raw metrics. It’s long been believed that happier employees are more productive employees, and that’s something that generally tends to be backed up by studies. But some express concerns that standing desks can physically hinder productivity on some of the more necessary tasks.
We’re used to sitting down and typing after all, and critics argue that standing and typing at a desk is less efficient than sitting and typing. The numbers tell a different story. A study examined the productivity of 60 employees in a variety of routine tasks, and those who employed standing desks performed just as well as those in sitting desks. Their typing skills retained the same words per minute as when they were tested sitting and typing.
If the thought of arriving at the office fills you with dread, it might not be your job which is the problem.
Our surroundings have a big impact on our stress levels and well being.
Our office environments have traditionally been dreary places, with dull colour schemes and generic furniture. But more and more people are realising that making a few small tweaks to their office environment can be surprisingly powerful.
Add some plants
It is no coincidence that many of the coolest offices are full of plants. Adding a touch of green to your office space can have a remarkable impact on stress levels.
Not only will it improve air quality, but studies have shown that plants improve our psychological health. The effect is particularly noticeable in office spaces, where plants are proven to reduce stress, increase productivity and boost resilience.
Some office spaces are taking their greenery seriously, incorporating indoor or rooftop gardens.
Make sure you opt for hardy plants which can survive weekends and require minimal care. Aloe, spider plants, ivy, and peace lilies are all excellent choices. Hanging planters can make the best use of limited space.
Switch to a standing desk
Just like being away from nature, sitting all day is not natural and can be seriously harmful. If you work in an office, the chances are high that you spend most of your day sitting down. Switching to a standing desk can reduce blood sugar spikes, improve heart health, alleviate back and neck pain, and boost your metabolism.
Better health means less stress. Standing desks also have a direct impact on mental health. In one study, 87% of people who switched to them reported increased energy.
Ongoing research is revealing that standing desks decrease the risk of depression and anxiety. Healthier, happier people are also more productive at work.
Try an adjustable desk which can be raised or lowered as required. Spending half your day sitting and half standing is recommended, especially while adjusting to the change of working style.
Declutter the office space
A chaotic work environment more often than not means a chaotic mind. Clutter is visually distracting and can lead to stress due to the time wasted in finding what you need.
Taking the time to clear surfaces, organise drawers and throw away rubbish can turn a stressful workplace serene. This need not take hours of effort – a few minutes at the end of each day is easily long enough.
The best way to keep your office tidy is to get rid of anything unnecessary, not to waste valuable time organising it. Consider scanning documents rather than keeping paper copies, giving away duplicate stationery and equipment, and moving distracting items out of your line of vision.
Improve the light quality
Most offices are lit with fluorescent strip lights in a bid to reduce electricity bills. However, harsh artificial lights are not only toxic for the environment, they are also harmful to those who work beneath them.
The risks include migraines, disrupted sleep, anxiety, and increased stress. Flickering lights and the buzzing sound they commonly emit can be distracting and harsh on the eyes too.
Reducing stress at work is largely about creating an environment that is as natural as possible and suits your biology. The perfect way to do this is by getting exposure to natural light.
A number of small changes can be made to reduce the stress caused by poor lighting. If possible, try sitting by a window and keeping lights off during times when natural light is enough. Adding a specially designed filter which widens the light spectrum can alleviate the impact on stress levels.
A calm mind leads to better quality work, more innovation and enhanced creativity, if you would like assistance turning your office environment into a more calming and productive place then contact us for more information.
Businesses that are able to display an eco-friendly environment stand a good chance of gaining more customers, particularly those who care about the environment.
It is a great way to show your customers that you really do care about the environment.
Operating an eco-efficient business can also save you more money too, so it really is a win-win for everyone!
Here are a five top tips to help you be more eco-friendly when it comes to office design and fit-out, working procedures and office equipment.
Bring in as much natural daylight to the office as possible to reduce the use of artificial lighting during the day and summer months. At the same time, look to replace your traditional incandescent light bulbs with LEDs or LED panels as these have a lower wattage and help to save energy.
Bring in a centralised waste system for the office and get rid of individual bins so that people don’t find it so easy to just chuck stuff away. This will certainly help to encourage recycling and reduce waste. Also, why not try a paperless office environment for a few months - encourage people to use electronic documents instead, or online storage, instead of printing off everything and using old-fashioned filing methods.
If you’re refurbishing the office, make sure those who come to do the painting and decorating use eco-friendly paint like the ones on offer from Earthborn or Little Greene. All of these paints are free from oils, acrylics, and vinyl – so you’ll notice that there are no nasty smells or fumes emitted.
Go PC Free
Consider giving your workers laptops instead of desktop PCs, if this would be suitable for their work. Most modern laptops actually use a lot less energy so you’ll be doing your bit for the environment – as well as making it easier for people if they want to work from home or whilst on the road.
A green roof
If you are really wanting to make an eco-statement then install a green roof on the top of your building. Having lots of plants and vegetation can help to keep your office cool during the summer and will serve as insulation during the winter, so you can save money on energy bills.
Bring the plants inside as well to help purify the air and give your team members positive motivation.
The modern office space continues to transform based on workplace culture and current trends.
For example, we’ve seen office space change from cubicles to open-air communal spaces to standing desks and more.
But there’s still a common thread. What remains the same is the desire to increase and encourage productivity by creating the optimal office space.
Organisations today, including small to medium-sized businesses, are offered a variety of solutions to make daily tasks flow more efficiently and effectively.
Here are six tips to help create a more inviting, productive office:
1. Create an efficient layout.
A workplace reflects not only how you work but also the energy of the space. In the same way, an office layout is more than just separating departments and tasks into areas. You don’t want to have your new clients walking through the kitchen to get to the conference room. Creating the space that best suits your organisation means serving the needs of your team members so that they're set up for success and efficiency when they arrive at work. Business owners can encourage their teams to rearrange their offices or desks to make their space more efficient.
2. Use connected technology.
The ability to do and connect completes the office space. Technology enables organisations to connect and collaborate more easily. Ideas can be viewed and shared in an instant. However, businesses must use technology in a way that serves as a tool rather than as a distraction.
Technology in the office should always have a purpose. For example, screens outside of shared meeting spaces can indicate when the room is available or booked in a co-working setting or typical office.
3. Make a space for collaboration.
With a greater emphasis on technology that enables remote office access, it's important to have a collaborative space for the team to work together. This goes beyond simply providing a conference room.
While having an open space with a few tables and chairs that allows for anyone to come in and work is good, the space must be enticing. Having an interesting layout will entice workers to come to that space so they can collaborate with each other.
4. Control light and sound.
Nothing hampers productivity like a distracting noise outside or a poorly lit room. Having a quiet space is essential to helping employees be creative and productive.
Also very important is filling a space with light, both natural and artificial. Plenty of natural light and minimal noise can make your team feel healthier and be more productive.
5. Ask the right questions.
As a business owner or a startup founder, when you’re looking for your next office space or perhaps your first office space make sure you ask the right questions.
You can ask questions beyond what’s on the lease and contract. Ask what types of businesses lease there to get a sense of the office neighbours you'll have.
You can also ask whether any construction might be happening nearby in the near future, especially if a quiet office is paramount for you.
An office space is more than just a place where people show up to work. Let’s face it, you’ll be spending around 40 hours a week in the space and potentially a lot more. Make it work for you and your team members, and ideally, it will help your business grow.
If you are looking to improve your office environment why not contact us today and let's see how we can assist with improving your office space.
Stress, depression, anxiety and musculoskeletal disorders accounted for most sick days taken in 2017/18.
With a supportive workplace culture, work-related stress can be reduced before it results in the kind of burn-out that requires time off. Burn-out happens when an individual feels they can no longer cope with the stress they're under.
It can build up slowly over time, or it can happen suddenly when several stressful events or situations coincide to become unmanageable. Different people handle stress differently, and the symptoms manifest in a variety of ways.
Work-related stress is far more common than it should be, and there's plenty employers can be doing to lower this risk, including the following:
1. Offer agile working
Most of us enjoy having the freedom to choose. Choice gives us flexibility. It makes us resilient and adaptable. Life isn't rigid, so why should work be? The traditional 9-5, 5-day working week is looking increasingly dated in a world where we can easily access documents and systems almost anywhere, any time through the Internet and our portable devices.
More and more organisations are adopting agile working practices. The office remains a good base for focused work and collaboration, but staff should be given the tools to hot-desk, work on the go and work from home whenever it's suitable.
It's time to ask how much stress is caused by the daily grind. Not the work itself, but the cyclical routine of having to be somewhere between specific times every day, regardless of what life throws at us. Humans require stimulation to thrive.
Why shouldn't workplaces reflect this?
2. Provide comfy ergonomic equipment
Ergonomic chairs and other office equipment shouldn't just be bought in for employees who complain of bad backs. Ergonomic equipment is not a cure: it's supposed to prevent musculoskeletal problems from even getting the chance to start.
Adjustable chairs and thoughtfully designed computer accessories are comfortable to use. It feels better to work with a workstation that's been set up according to DSE principles. With good posture you breathe better, you think clearer, you don't go home at the end of the day feeling achy and fatigued.
The emotional impact of being in pain is huge, and if that pain is being caused by office equipment then that equipment needs upgrading.
3. Encourage microbreaks
Taking a regular short breather from whatever you're doing is good for your stress levels. The problem in many workplaces is the fear of looking like a slacker. If you keep getting up to stride around the office every half and hour, won't people think you're avoiding work?
For employees to feel comfortable taking microbreaks, managers need get on board and lead by example. Make it clear that getting up is not just okay but encouraged.
4. Health, safety and wellbeing training
By law, staff should be trained to recognise health and safety risks in the workplace so that they can protect themselves. Stress awareness training is not compulsory, but it is a good way of helping staff identify signs of work-related stress in themselves and others.
5. Sit-stand desks and active working
Physical activity can have a profoundly positive impact on mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, computer work is by nature sedentary and most offices fail to encourage suitable levels of activity. Active working is the principle of incorporating more physical activity into day-to-day office life. Here are some ways to achieve it:
6. Employee benefits
When it comes to staff perks, it's important to consider what will have the biggest impact. What do staff value most? Perks that benefit wellbeing include duvet days (where staff can take an impromptu day off if they feel they need it), sabbaticals, paid volunteer days, and even bring-your-dog-to-work day.
7. Wellbeing committee
Ask for volunteers to lead a wellbeing committee. They can organise awareness events, training days, resources and activities geared up to help staff manage their stress levels.
If you have a business and would like to make savings on your bottom line, then cutting your energy usage is one of the best ways to do so.
Here we look at 4 easy ways your business can reduce energy consumption and ultimately save money, without transforming your whole interior.
1. Using Energy-Saving Lighting
Artificial lighting is essential in most offices. Regardless of how many big windows you have or how much natural light floods in, during the winter months there are short, dark days when you will need extra lighting. Unfortunately, lighting an office is expensive.
The good news is that you can minimise the cost spent on lighting with the use of energy-saving lights. LED light bulbs are known to be more energy-efficient than standard incandescent lighting.
LEDs do have a reputation for being initially expensive, but prices have dropped drastically in recent years, so you really don’t have to invest a fortune to be able to change over.
Plus, the amount you’ll save on your energy costs each year will more than make up for the price of purchase.
2. Controlling the AC and Heating
It’s hard to get the temperature right in an office space. In the winter it’s too cold and damp and in the summer it’s too hot and humid.
During the colder months, you will most probably need the central heating on during the day, but ensure you set a timer so that it switches off when the office is closed. Leaving it on will waste unnecessary energy and money by the bucket loads.
Similarly, during the summer months, cooling things down can be just as costly. It’s hard to cater to all employees’ preferences but create a happy medium and set the temperature at around 21 degrees Celsius.
Just remember, reducing the AC by as little as 1 degree Celsius could reduce your annual energy bill by up to 8%
3. Scrapping the use of Paper
Printers and photocopiers don’t just use a lot of energy; they also use a lot of paper. With the number of online admin apps and tools on the market, there really is no need to print out anything at all. Everything can now be done digitally.
Why not implement a no paper rule in your office? Not only will you save energy, but you will also save money and create a tidier and more clutter-free office environment.
Save any documents you want to share with other team members to a shared drive instead of printing out a copy.
This also means no one will have to re-print any documents if they go missing either.
4. Turn Off at Night
Most offices operate during a set period of time, most commonly 9 am to 5.30pm. Outside of these hours, energy consumption should be kept to a minimum.
Make an office rule so that employees switch off their laptops or take them home with them every night. Leaving laptops on standby or in sleep mode still uses up power, which is not needed.
Also ensure that whoever is last in the office switches off all other appliances like vending machines, coffee machines, printers, TVs and presentation equipment.
This is especially important at the weekend when the office is empty for 48 hours.
Here we look at why glass is becoming such a popular choice for many commercial interiors.
Light up your space
When businesses are planning their interior, one of the main talking points is how to incorporate more light into our space. Glass can help to solve this issue by giving the impression of more natural light and more room.
Instead of using thick concrete walls to separate spaces, which can often feel oppressive, incorporating glass walls or partitions can do the same job. Glass creates the impression that the space is open and ultimately appears more spacious.
Privacy issues solved
If you want your place of work to appear open and contemporary, but you still need space for private meetings or for employees to work in peace away from noise, then installing glass partitioning can be a great option.
Using tinted or frosted glass for spaces that need to be a little more secure can be a great solution, and glass can also be branded or coloured to fit in with your company’s personality.
Glass can help to separate different departments and give a more organised look at the same time.
Modern and easy on the eye
Large glass walls are becoming extremely popular in newly built and newly refurbished offices, as employees seek to provide comfortable and contemporary places of work. This helps to impress clients and attract the right calibre of staff.
Reception areas, meeting rooms or waiting lounges are the first places your visitors so when the visit your business, first impressions count.
Commercial glass is a very durable and safe material. It can be fire-proofed and also suitable for extremely large spaces. Glass is also timeless and is sure to last your business for many years into the future, so you won’t need to worry about replacing it any time soon.
Given its effectiveness and modern, clean appearance, the material is relatively inexpensive and there are many customisable options that are available to invest in.
Glass is also a great conductor of natural light and heat, so if you invest in it in a big way, you might even see benefits in the form of lower utility bills for your business in the future.
Over a decade ago, research was carried out into the effects of noise on learning. 50 London schools were assessed, and their noise levels were compared with their pupils’ test results. There was a direct correlation: the noisier the school, the poorer the results.
In the decade since, a generation of new schools has been built with sound dampening suspended ceilings and walls. So now more pupils have the chance to achieve better results without the building getting in the way.
But what if you’re in an older school? What are the noise problems associated with older schools, and is there a solution that doesn’t involve demolishing and rebuilding to modern standards?
Fighting reverberation and background noise
Reverberation is, effectively, echo. In classrooms it’s a problem that forces the teacher to talk louder, but as they do so their voice echoes even more. The result is a vicious circle that makes hearing more difficult, especially for younger children. The solution lies in reducing the reverb caused by hard surfaces like glass, metal and plaster.
Background noise is any noise that isn’t the prime signal within a classroom (ie the teacher’s voice). It could be anything from the general classroom hubbub to the class next door, the sound of the traffic outside or the hum of the IT equipment. The greater the level of background noise, the greater the potential levels of stress, frustration and mishearing.
How suspended ceilings help
All suspended ceiling tiles have sound absorbing and attenuating properties. They reduce the ‘echoeyness’ within a room, prevent sound escaping, and limiting the level of noise from elsewhere.
Their capabilities can help any classroom become a more conducive environment for learning. They become quieter, less fractious places, which can benefit behaviour as well as academic progress. Teachers don’t have to shout to be heard. And children don’t have to try and filter extraneous noise before they can start learning.
Source: Judge Suspended Ceilings
When considering office partitioning, there are many different types of office partitions to choose from. Each have different qualities and uses depending on the type of office and business that you operate within, and are all have their own individual benefits.
Here are a selection of some of the more popular types of office partitions provided by Barrs Court Construction.
If your office requires spaces for high levels of focus, these partitions are a sensible option. These partitions offer lot's of privacy and can create a greater sense of focus as a result of the walls. Solid partitions are customisable, quick to install, ideal if you are looking to minimise interruption and distraction in the work area.
Glass office partitions, like solid partitions are still able to offer a certain level of privacy with blinds, these partitions are generally more discreet, with an aim to provide privacy, but without causing employees to feel cut off or excluded. These partitions are quick to install and are customisable with glass manifestations so you can add your corporate colours or logo to show off your corporate brand.
Demountable partitions give you the advantage of ultra-fast removal and installation times.
These types of partitions ensure maximum flexibility for your business, they are easily interchangeable and help your business create a more flexible option for an office floor space that is constantly evolving and growing.
Noise-minimising acoustic partitions come in a variety of designs including double glazed, single glazed and solid office partitions. Double glazed acoustic doors will provide better office soundproofing, while a solid partition will generally be more soundproof than a glass office partition. You can determine which acoustic partitions you need by the level of soundproofing you require.
If you would like to discuss the options for office partitions for your business in more detail then feel free to contact us for a more details on how we can help your business create a more suitable working environment, we are based in Bristol and work throughout the UK.
With employees working longer and feeling less appreciated by their superiors it is no surprise that levels of productivity in the work place have subsequently reduced.
Having a break out area for your employees has been proven to boost productivity, it allows them to take their breaks in an area that is designed to stimulate relaxation and offer a place to relax for a while, connect with fellow colleagues and re-charge those batteries for the remainder of the working day.
So how can you design your break out area to offer a relaxing place for your employees that will boost their productivity?
Getting the colour scheme right in your break area is more important than you may initially think. Choosing colours that offer a light, relaxing atmosphere is important when trying to encourage a rise in productivity levels. Orange stimulates the brain with creative and imaginative energy. Blue is recognised as a colour of calm and relaxation.
An underestimated piece of furniture that is commonly found in the home, is one of the most effective pieces of furniture that you can buy for your breakout area. Sofas are heavily related to relaxing at home, so injects an element of the ‘home from home’ feel in the office.
The kitchen has been often referred to as the heart of the home, so there is no wonder that making a kitchen the heart of the office boosts the mood and furthermore the productivity of your employees. Providing a quality kitchen with great facilities will reduce the need for employees to have to travel down the road to get food and drink throughout the day, meaning they can enjoy their break all in one place without the unnecessary coffee runs in the pouring rain.
Utilise your break area when there are celebrations to be had, like birthdays and Christmas. Making your break area the hub for connecting and encouraging everyone to come together will leave a lasting impression and a great atmosphere in the office. When designing your break area, make sure you create a space big enough to hold special events and parties.
Offer your employees something fun to do whilst they unwind in the break room. Popular installations are pool tables, video games and televisions. Activities allow employees to let off steam and distracts them from the busy working environment for a while. Giving your employees a relaxing activity to partake in during their break is proven to boost productivity, as it offers a release.
ASK YOUR EMPLOYEES
When designing or updating your break room, one of the most important things you need to continuously consider is how will this break area benefit employees. You can make this easier for yourself when designing your break area by listening to, valuing and considering the opinions of your team that will actually be the ones utilising the area.