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Sit / Stand Workstations

A sit / stand workstation is an adjustable height work surface, which allows users to easily alternate between working from a seated position to a standing position. There are many types of sit-to-stand products available to accommodate this growing trend.

The photos below show a small example of different types of sit-stand products available. 

EXAMPLES:

Ergotron Workfit-S
Steelcase Ology
Humanscale Float Desk

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
  • Combats a sedentary lifestyle

What are the disadvantages of standing?

  • Sitting uses less energy
  • Sitting helps to stabilize the body in order to perform fine motor tasks
  • Standing is not a substitute for exercise
  • Increases pressure on the knees, hips and 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
  • Poor standing posture can lead to locking knees, weaker abdominal muscles 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 have reverted to 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. 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 should move and have balance throughout 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 that will fit sitting and standing users
  • Has a monitor platform or monitor arms that allow 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.

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 level, in both sitting and standing postures
  • Use a supportive adjustable ergonomic chair when sitting
  • Wear supportive shoes when standing, and replace them frequently (DO NOT wear heels when standing as it will cause spinal misalignment)
  • Do not shift your weight from side to side or jut your hip to the side.  Instead place your foot forward onto a low stool to keep your spine in a neutral position when you feel the need to shift your weight off one foot or the other.
  • 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.
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