, Salem, MA


March 13, 2013

On your feet!

Employees who stand while working say they have more energy

Two months ago, Topsfield resident Dan White bought a $20 work stand for his laptop, propped it on his desk and became part of a growing trend.

Now he stands at work instead of sitting.

White, the director of development at Gordon College in Wenham, is one of about 10 workers there who have adapted their desks so they can work standing up. Some stand at laptops propped on a wooden box; others have desks or lecterns tall enough to do the trick. The college’s director of budget and financial planning has two screens, mounted on what looks like the robotic arm of the space shuttle, clamped firmly to his desk.

None of the modifications required the college to buy expensive, ergonomic desks designed for standing. The modifications were made by the employees themselves.

White bought his work stand online. He uses a stool sometimes but estimates that he stands 80 percent of the time.

Rather than feel fatigued, he said, he feels like he has more energy, and his chronic lower back pain is mostly gone.

Does standing at his desk make him more productive?

“Yes, it does, and I’ll tell you why. It makes me more energetic, it really does,” White said. “Just standing, everything is more flowing.”

While studies may show that inactivity is bad for you, the jury is out as to whether standing on the job is the way to go for office professionals, who normally sit hunched at computers screens all day.

Cyndi McMahon, a spokeswoman for the college, said researchers in the kinesiology department, who study human movement, don’t think there is enough evidence to say standing up at work is better or worse for you.

“When standing, the body tends to be less static due to natural sway,” the department’s faculty wrote in a statement. “This is probably helpful for circulation and burning minimal calories as you engage your musculature. If standing while working, it is important to maintain a good upright posture, not lock the knees, and wear proper footwear.”

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