Is working while standing really, as the studies suggest, better? – that more and more studies insist that sitting all day is bad for your health? Sidar; founder of Open Up Europe claims that “sitting is the new smoking” : is he right to claim this?
At Betacowork, the few standing desks are constantly occupied – often by the same people – strangely, the majority are men with beards. Could there be a link to a cause and effect? We have carried out an enquiry amongst our coworkers who practice the way of working at these strange high-rise desks to try and understand their motivation…
A remedy for back problems
“Working while standing gives me energy. And as well, I have previously suffered serious back problems and working standing has strengthened the the base of my spine. But I have also taken further precautions for my back problems. For example I bought an ultra light computer and organise myself so that I don’t have too much heavy stuff to carry when I come to Betacowork” Says Gilbert, the bearded founder of Mister West. “Oh, and a last word of advice: you’d better have the right shoes when you’re working standing up!”
For Richard (Scalable Solutions), his preference for the standing desk is due to past intestinal problems : “two or three years ago I suffered problems of compression and irritation of the colon. I was sitting for more than 2500 hours a year! I also had back problems, not while I was sitting but when I was walking or running in the park. Despite my 5 workouts per week, my back wasn’t toned enough compared to the rest of my body. Since last year I have taken things in hand: I do stretching exercises nearly every day, I do muscle training for the back and the abdomen and…I work standing”.
For Borja, the bearded founder of TapeWrite, working standing is obvious: “ I’ve been working standing for about seven years. I believe that it’s very difficult to compensate 8 hours of sitting with physical exercises, however intense they may be! When I work standing I’m constantly in movement, to change my position, etc. My back is straight and I feel more on form”.
Christophe, the bearded founder of SpaceRocket, also had back problems in the past: “I had to invest in increasingly more expensive chairs but my back problems persisted. In the end I settled for two solutions: ergonomic chairs and a standing desk. I’m beginning to feel the benefits”. And working standing has further benefits to his form “It helps me to stay concentrated, to maintain my energy levels and improve my productivity”.
Working standing – other benefits
“The standing desks are all separated in the corners of the rooms. Working there allows me to work without distraction. People don’t interrupt you so much”, explains Gilbert. Christophe adds that “working standing aids digestion and keeps your head clear (especially after a good lunch)”.
“When I’m working at a standing desk, I’m only working standing about 30% of the time. One has a tendency to sit down after a while, unconsciously. It’s natural. The trick is to distance yourself from the chair behind you to avoid being tempted to sit down without thinking about it”, explains Gilbert. Richard confirms this: I work standing – but strictly in alternation (1 -2 hours standing, followed by 15 – 30 minutes sitting).
It just leaves the question of why the majority of the fans of the standing desk are bearded men. If anybody has a suggestion, we’d be delighted to hear from them!
For further consultation regarding back problems our coworking doctor: Jed can give you advice through his website My Mediacoach. A site you can consult (standing or sitting) without moderation!
Photos: Elliot Moscowitz. Model: Gilbert West (bearded model)
The original post has been published by Katia in the French version of this blog. Translation into English by our coworker Jeremy Blezard.