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Telemarketing Staff Called Upon to Provide Key Research Material for Sit/Stand Study

Wednesday 9th of March 2016 18:24

There you have it then. Scientists have proven that employee facilitation of standing desks does not equal greater productivity levels. Not conclusively any way. OK, you will naturally feel a whole lot better in terms of blood flow, oxygen circulation and posture for standing rather than sitting for 90 minutes a day, however there’s no real evidence to support the notion that such approaches to work will significantly improve work rates of efficiency levels in those who champion such ideas. But that won’t necessarily halt the rise in popularity of these ‘convertible desks’, irrespective of whether or not they have a measurable impact on employee productivity.

So just how do we know this for sure? Well, because a pilot study has recently been undertaken in Australia, whereby 30 call centre staff working at Oz-based telecommunications firm, Telco, were put to the test by Sydney University’s School of Public Health; the results from which were subsequently published in the Preventive Medicine Reports. Apparently the research was carried out to academically bolster widely-held beliefs that sit-stand desks can have a positive bearing on worker productivity AND promote health benefits when adopted within a real-world environment. Only the findings didn’t come down in the pro-camp as mooted beforehand, with the eight boffins responsible for compiling the facts of the actual matter concluding that; “Little is known about the impact of sit-stand desks on actual worker productivity in a real-world setting,” and insisting that; “This is an evidence gap which needs to be addressed before organizations invest in sit-stand desks as a measure for preventing chronic disease and promoting wellness in their workforce.” Which is, arguably one in the eye for all those previously jumping on the convertible desk bandwagon.

Boffins Initially Concur That Convertible Workstations Have No Significant Effects on Productivity Levels

According to the journal, the survey chronicled the daily vocational activities of some 30 call centre employees over a 19-week passage of time, to establish what, if any, patterns or behaviour occurred. It was deemed that for the fundamental purposes of this specific research that call centre workers offered the best logistical insights into the premise that sit/stand desks can make a significant difference to productivity/health. Not least because these role models undertake a range of activities in many dimensions, affording the research team the platform and means to neutrally observe and measure employees’ call handling responses and times, the time spent talking, time spent on hold and time spent wrapping up calls.

The testing scenario played out as follows, with one group of workers being voluntarily subject of an ‘intervention’ (in the form of a new Zenith Rumba 2 Stage Sit-Stand Workstation), complete with bespoke training on how best to use the desk together with being in receipt of daily email reminders for the first fortnight, politely instructing them to focus their efforts on standing up more during the work day. Another controlled group remained at their conventional desks and weren’t harassed with emails reminding them of the research obligations. Apparently, 50% of participants were tracked by an accelerometer, while the other 50% by an inclinometer, while other data was recorded by self-reporting.

Once the 19-week trial reached its natural conclusion, those employees who had interspersed being sat behind their desk with periods of standing whilst fulfilling the remits of their role, reported feeling more energetic. Yet there were no counts of any specific trends emerging as regards to more positive work perceptions amongst the intervention group, and ultimately the productivity level measures didn’t lean towards a more effective working ethos; at least no more so than those workers who remained steadfastly throughout the trial period. Nevertheless the researchers are buoyed by having carried out the research, and what they believe to be the first of its kind. And ergo from their viewpoint see this as an early indicator that standing desks aren't going to harm a workplace, whilst simultaneously appreciating that more expansive studies embracing a range of workplaces will be needed to cement their findings.

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