People + Process = Performance

5 Solutions to Common Mistakes In Implementing Sit-Stand Workstations

In my previous blog I listed out 5 common misconceptions and/or mistakes employers make when considering/implementing sit-stand workstations (SSWs).  SSWs are an investment and one worth doing right the first time in order for SSW implementation to be successful and sustainable and, of course in all business investments, to optimize ROI—employee usage, health & safety, and productivity.  The following are 5 Solutions to the Common Mistakes/Misconceptions of SSWs:


  1. Select At Least 2 SSW Types as Company Standards:  It would be nice if “One size fits all” would be true of SSWs but that’s just not the case.  The type of SSW chosen should be based on 3 factors:
    1. Job tasks/work flow—Considerations include if the tasks on performed solely on the computer or is there paperwork involved?; Does the person need all or part of the workstation to raise and lower to complete all work tasks?; etc.
    2. Individual characteristics—Considerations primarily include person height, vision and physical capability of standing
    3. Current workstation equipment/environment—Considerations include the number and size of monitors, size of workstation/office, need to interact with co-workers and/or customers, distraction/noise factors, etc.
    4. Budget—Some SSW options cost more than others.  If there is a specific budget to meet then certain options will be eliminated or used only when necessary.

I’ve seen companies have 3 different standards in order to meet all of the above factors.  One standard was what I will term the “on the desk” SSW where the device sits on the current desk surface.  The second standard was the “attach to current desk” SSW device where it clamps onto the existing desk.  The third standard was an electric or hydraulic SSW where most, if not the entire, desk surface is raised and lowered.  The main point is for employers to know that there isn’t just one SSW solution that will fit everyone and every situation.  One will fit most but there needs to be at least one other option to turn to if the primary standard is not appropriate.

  1. Set Reasonable Usage Expectations:  A good goal I tell my clients is if their employees stand 1-2 hours more per day with a SSW than they did before.  I also advise them that it is perfectly normal and expected if a certain number of employees simply will not use them.  Some individuals actually prefer to sit to perform their work.  Then again there are also certain jobs/job tasks that are more conducive to a sitting position vs. standing and therefore a SSW is not wanted or appropriate or appreciated.  The point of this solution is to set the expectations of the employer/managers as to what is reasonable.  Also, employers need to be mindful of employees who physically cannot stand for any length of time.  No employees should be made to feel uncomfortable or discriminated against because they can’t stand and/or do their job standing.
  2. Save Money—Do Not Purchase Anti-Fatigue Mats!: Simple explanation—the goal is to frequently alternate between sitting and standing.  Mats encourage prolonged standing.  Do not throw your money away on mats.  Educate and encourage your employees to alter their position frequently.
  3. Require Training for Every Employee with SSW:  Based upon the latest research, if you want employees to use the SSWs correctly, i.e. frequently alternate between sitting and standing, and to use them with good body mechanics and positioning then training is required.  Training resulted in employees standing >2 hours/day vs. the non-training group which was <1 hour/day.  The training that has been studied has been in-person so the effectiveness on reading a document or watching a video is unknown.  That said, we know training effectiveness in general is best in-person and hands-on than watching or reading.  The purpose of this solutions is to ensure that the employer and employee both get the greatest benefit from the investment in SSWs.
  4. SSWs Can Be Part of/Thought of a Key Component To a Lean and Well Office:  The effect of SSWs on employee health & wellness and productivity to date has been inconclusive.  Some studies have shown not effect on productivity while others have shown increases.  Some studies have shown a decrease in employee discomfort while others have shown no decrease or a decrease in discomfort in one area and an increase of discomfort in another area.  From what the research and summaries of research I have read it appears none of them specifically have addressed SSWs as a component of a Lean office, i.e. decreasing waste and improving productivity.  A few have tried to quantify health benefits (weight loss) but the size and length of the studies are lacking for derive accurate conclusions.  Based upon the purpose of SSWs, i.e. frequent position changes, and the overall goal of increasing movement into the workday, it would seem logical that there would be health/wellness benefits at some level from SSWs.  It would also seem logical that if the SSW were part of the work team (cell)/department design that there would be benefits from a Lean perspective as well.  As a Lean/Six Sigma practitioner I definitely see the capability of this.  Therefore, the integration and implementation of SSWs in the workplace should be part of the overall health/wellness and lean/operations of the organization.  It is advisable to have someone from Lean/Ops and H&W on the SSW implementation team, and/or have a person who has knowledge and practice in both worlds.