BY JANET MANDELSTAM
Carrie Albright wasn’t used to sitting for long stretches of time, but her job as an account manager at Hanapin Marketing required her to work at her computer all day. “I got antsy,” she recalls. So she got a couple boxes of office supplies, put them on her desk, set her laptop on the boxes, and started to work standing up. She says she immediately felt “a shift in energy. I was more alert and productive.”
Colleagues at the Bloomington-based digital marketing agency soon took note of Albright’s improvised arrangement. And so did Hanapin President and CEO Pat East, who saw standing desks as an “emerging trend in tech industries” and gave Albright an actual desk to test. [A Google search turns up many makes and styles of standing desks now on the market.]
“Then we did some research,” says East. “We wanted to make sure the health benefits of standing outweighed the drawbacks.”
The drawbacks of prolonged sitting have been known for some time. According to the Mayo Clinic, “researchers have linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns,” including obesity, increased blood pressure, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Too much sitting, research suggests, “also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.”
Convinced of the benefits, East soon offered all employees the option of a standing desk, and “at least two-thirds” of the company’s staff of 27 opted in. Hanapin retained its original office desks and added a piece of equipment that sits on the desk, goes up and down, and can be adjusted to the height of individual users. Because everyone works on laptops, it’s easy to switch positions, and each person has the flexibility to decide when and for how long to stand. Client manager Kristine Hyman says she stands for at least an hour. “Sitting all day is very exhausting,” Hyman says. “When the standing desks were offered, I said I’d try it.”
The Mayo Clinic suggests: “If you work at a desk for long periods of time, try a standing desk—or improvise with a high table or counter.”
And that is just what Albright did. Now, she says, she stands “ninety percent of the time,” sitting only when she is on the phone or eating lunch at her desk.