You can be pretty sure there is something of value in a ‘healthier’ workplace practice when the Scandinavians are taking it seriously. In Sweden sit-stand desks are commonplace and Denmark has recently made it mandatory for employers to offer their staff the option of a sit-stand desk. However, according to Jeremy Myerson, professor of design at the Royal College of Art, there is something of a perspective problem in the UK: ‘There's a tendency to treat workplace design as a cost, not an investment’, he laments.
Given the growing body of medical evidence, which implicates ‘too much sitting’ in a plethora of physical and psychological disorders - from heart disease and back pain to anxiety and depression - and also given the lost working hours and productivity these problems cause, perhaps it’s time to take a more forward-looking approach?
Rather than fixating on the up-front cost of installing sit-stand desks, shouldn’t we see it as an investment in the long-term health and output of our staff? Surely it’s time we incorporated sit-stand desks into our employee’s benefits packages and negotiated discounts with our insurers for introducing preventative health care measures?
Professor Alexi Marmot, an internationally respected expert on workplace design, sums it up perfectly:
‘If what we are creating are environments where people are not going to be terribly healthy and are suffering from diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes, it's highly unlikely the organisation benefits in any way.’