Sit-Stand Workstations

A sit-stand workstation is a desktop-mounted device or an adjustable height work surface or table, which allows users to easily alternate between working from a seated position to a standing position. Many types of sit-stand products have been developed over the years to accommodate this growing trend.

The photos below show a small example of the types of sit-stand products available and that are recommended through Upstate Ergonomics. Current desks can also many times be retrofitted with a sit-stand mechanism.

Ergotron Workfit-S
Ergotron Workfit-S
Ergotron Workfit-A
Ergotron Workfit-A
Steelcase Ology

Steelcase Ology

Product Ordering

Visit http://www.upstate.edu/hr/document/intra/sit_stand.pdfPDF IconIntranet Icon for product details and ordering information for sit-stand workstations.

What are the advantages of standing?

  • Burns more calories compared to sitting (20% increase)
  • Reduces strain on the lower back from prolonged sitting
  • Increases muscle activity compared to sitting
  • Combats a sedentary lifestyle compared to sitting

 What are the disadvantages of standing?

  • Sitting uses less energy and helps stabilize the body to perform fine motor tasks like computer work or fine micro-surgery
  • Standing is not a substitute for exercise
  • Increases pressure cartilage in the knees, hips and balls of the feet
  • Requires 20% more energy than sitting placing greater strain on the circulatory system and making people prone to using awkward postures to compensate for fatigue
  • Decreased privacy due to standing above colleagues
  • "Bad" standing posture can lead to locking knees, weaker abdominal muscles (causes people to sway back), or standing on one leg (causing asymmetry throughout the entire spine) to obtain relief

Are sit-stand workstations effective? 

Studies of sit-stand workstations have found little evidence of widespread benefits and users typically only stand for very short-periods (15 minutes or less total per day). Other studies have found that the use of sit-stand workstations rapidly declines so that after 1 month a majority of people are sitting all the time, so compliance can be problematic.

Who can benefit from a sit-stand workstation?

If you have little or no back pain while you are sitting, have a job that requires you to frequently leave your desk, or have a flexible work schedule and can occasionally leave your desk when you want, then you probably do not need a sit-stand workstation.

However, if you experience pain or discomfort from prolonged sitting and/or work exclusively at a computer >6 hours per day without being able to leave your desk, a sit-stand workstation might help you. Also having the option to move between sitting and standing positions can help you maintain comfortable working postures throughout the day.

What are my best postures for my workstation, sitting or standing? 

The best option for users who face long hours of sedentary work is to use a combination of sitting and standing. The human body responds best to a balance between static and dynamic activity, between activity and recovery, between sitting and standing. You have to move, and you have to be supported in safe postures. You have to balance your day.

What makes a good sit-stand workstation?

A well-designed sit-stand workstation:

  • Is height adjustable and can accommodate all users
  • Has easy-to-adjust components
  • Has a height-adjustable desk top with a height-adjustable keyboard tray that will fit sitting and standing users
  • Has a monitor platform or arm that allows the top of the monitor to be set at the same height as the user’s eyes
  • A keyboard and mouse at the same height that can be set at or slightly below elbow height. For most users, this requires the keyboard and mouse to recess below standard desk height. Tabletop models such as the VariDesk or Ergotron Workfit-TL, T and Z are not recommended without an added keyboard/mouse platform. Visit “Which Sit-Stand Device is Best?PDF IconExternal Icon” on the Duke Ergonomics website to get more detailed information as to why tabletop models are not the best choice. Link: PDF IconExternal Icon

I have a sit-stand workstation already, what can I do to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

  • Make sure the keyboard/mouse height are at your elbow height, and the monitor height(s) are at or below your eye height, in both sitting and standing postures
  • Use a supportive adjustable ergonomic chair when sitting
  • Wear supportive shoes when standing, and replace them frequently
  • Remember to alternate postures. Use a timer if it is hard to remember when to sit. Sit for every 20-30 minutes and stand for 8-10 minutes. Move around for 2 minutes.

Sources: ergo.human.cornell.edu; www.uclahealth.org; www.safety.duke.edu

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