I work at an online media and advertising agency, which like so many other new or startup companies, features an open office floor plan. When you enter through the double doors from the lobby, everything and everyone is in front of you, which can be a bit intimidating if you’re coming in for an interview. In my case, I was especially fuddled by the fact that the person I first made eye contact with – a guy at a standing desk closest to the doors – simply looked at me for a second when I walked in and then turned back to his computer as if to say I wasn’t his problem.
So, is he not the executive assistant or whatever?
I had no clue what was going on, so I just walked in a little further and stood there (awkwardly) until I was eventually greeted by someone from HR. Thank God.
What threw me off wasn’t the fact that he was so close to the entrance: It was the fact that he was standing by the entrance. But not too long after being hired, I found out that standing desks were the hot shit at my office. I could tell because only the right people had them. The Co-Founders. The Project Managers. You know, the head guys. The people who set the standards, and as a result, set the trends for office culture. Now 8 months on the job, I’ve slowly but surely witnessed more than half of the employees convert to standing stations, ditching their chairs for comfortable running shoes.
Don’t get me wrong, I get it. There are tons of studies available online that speak to the many health benefits of standing desks. For example, BBC News reports that we’re more productive when we stand, while Forbes tells us that standing more hours in the day keeps our blood pressure lower, and as a result, helps us live longer. But it’s not like we haven’t long known the perils of “sedentary culture,” and how the workplace has been struck by it since the advent of the computer. We sit too much, and I suppose that’s what’s at the heart of studies/articles like the ones above. Still, though, as a 24-year-old who tries to workout at least five times a week and prefers sitting down at work, I can’t help but feel annoyed about the way the evidence is presented. Most notably, how some people defend standing so much that they actually forget to promote activity. Isn’t that the real problem? We sit too much because we aren’t active enough.
So, instead of getting a standing desk, I’ve tried other things to accommodate more activity into my work schedule. For example, going to the gym on my lunch break instead of waiting until I get off. It works wonders for those languid afternoons, giving me energy – physically and mentally – to get more done. In addition to open floor plans and standing desks, I’d like to see more modern offices with amenities like showers in the restrooms (which mine thankfully has) to help meet the needs of employees who’d rather exercise than stand.
Not to mention, standing the majority of the day has its health risks, too. A UC Berkeley study showed that too much standing could increase the risk of varicose veins and other long-term complications such as hardened arteries.
This research demonstrates two things:
1. You can find anything on the internet.
2. Being more active is important regardless of what type of desk you prefer at work.
Still, though, I should give credit where it’s due. Remember those chairs I mentioned earlier that got ditched for running shoes? Yeah, well, let’s just say now that so many employees have little use for them, they create the perfect obstacle course every time I make my way to the office kitchen. No joke, I’m literally burning calories as I dodge a surplus of chairs separating me and my lunch, which means there’s really no need for a standing desk when you have such generous coworkers who look after their own like mine do. Thanks, guys.
A few people have asked if I’ll ever cave in and decide to test the hype for a week or so. Maybe one day, but the whole thing sort of seems like a high school assembly after waiting this long – like when you’re forced to stand for the national anthem, but can’t wait for it to be over so you can sit down and shoot the shit with the homies. All I can promise is this: If I do end up requesting a standing desk at some point in the future, it’ll definitely be an adjustable one. Why? So I can feel even better about sitting, naturally.