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Is Your Office Furniture Hurting You?

March 13, 2017 / by Tommy Twardowski

If you work in an office, you probably spend a large chunk of your workday sitting at a desk, staring at a computer, making phone calls and doing paperwork. Office jobs may not seem like high-risk jobs, but experts warn otherwise. According to the Mayo Clinic, sitting for long periods of time significantly increases your risk of developing:

  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease

Your desk and desk chair probably look benign. In reality, they may be putting your health at risk. Fortunately, forward-thinking furniture-makers are making strides toward reducing the health hazards of desk jobs. If you sit at a regular desk in a regular chair for long periods of time, your office furniture probably is hurting you. Here are some healthier options!

Sit/Stand Products

Prolonged sitting isn't healthy. Neither is prolonged standing. Researchers have concluded that prolonged standing can lead to varicose veins, back pain, muscle stiffness and fatigue. Ergonomics experts recommend alternating between sitting and standing throughout the day. Office furniture companies, such as Humanscale, Steelcase, Herman Miller and many others, have created a line of office furniture that encourages users to switch between standing and seated posture throughout the workday.

If you are worried about the noise disruption that these desks may cause, Humanscales' Float standing office desk easily adjusts up or down using a counterbalance mechanism. Unlike other stand up desks, Float doesn't require users to turn a crank or turn on a noisy motor to change desk height. Adjusting the desk is as easy as standing up.

Humanscale also offers a revolutionary solution that turns any fixed-height desk into an active workstation. The QuickStand is a height-adjustable workstation that holds a computer screen, keyboard, and mouse. Lowered, use it while seated. Raised, you're able to stand up and work on your computer with perfect posture. And, it doesn't require you to purchase a whole new desk. It's a game-changer!

Walk and Work

You've heard the term "whistle while you work." Now you can exercise while you work, killing two birds with one stone and significantly improving your health. Treadmill desks, such as Steelcase's Walkstation, are becoming increasingly popular. The tops of these units are stand-up desks. The bottoms are treadmills. Why not transform your sedentary workstation into a walk-station?

These workstations can be used for shared or private workspaces. Place the sit-to-walkstations in communial areas for easy access and community encouragement, or use an enclosed office space for employee privacy and noise minimization. 

The Right Chair Can Make Sitting Less Sedentary

Active sitting chairs are engineered to engage your muscles while you sit. Offered by numerous companies, there are adjustable stools that allow you to bounce and wiggle while seated; chairs that you lean into, requiring you to engage your core; and balance ball chairs that are essentially exercise balls with legs and back support. Active chairs don't allow you to remain rigid in one position. By encouraging movement, you burn calories and increase blood flow, offsetting the negative aspects of prolonged sitting.

An Active Workspace Is Good for You and the Bottom Line

Forward-thinking employers embrace ergonomic office furniture. Movement and blood flow keep people awake and alert -- which helps them perform their jobs more effectively. Additionally, a healthy workspace reduces the likelihood of illnesses and absences. It's a win-win!

Change can be tough. You must motivate yourself to make different choices, take steps to make concrete changes, and get used to a new normal. If you want to pursue a healthier work environment and you have an office relocation in your future, that's the ideal time to upgrade to ergonomic furniture. Check with your office furniture supplier for their ergonomic or active product lines. Office movers can remove your old desks and chairs, and an office furniture installer can set up your healthier equipment at your new workplace.

Even if you don't have an upcoming office relocation to motivate you, you can still make a healthy change. Start small by purchasing a new chair or arranging your office so you'll be required to stand up and walk across the room regularly. Small changes can lead to huge improvements in your health!

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Topics: Ergonomics, Office Furniture, Managers

About The Author

Tommy Twardowski

Tommy Twardowski

Tommy began his career in the office furniture installation business in 1978 and started his full-time career in 1981 with Houston Installation Services. Starting as a furniture installer, he developed a passion for the process of installation and learned to install all major manufacturers’ lines.