Sitting vs Standing – A Comprehensive Overview

The sitting vs standing debate rumbles on. When it comes to how we work, the likelihood is your job will have you doing one or the other. For example, people in offices tend to sit more, whereas those who work in retail will stand more.

With phrases such as ‘sitting is the new cancer‘, if you work in an office or any other profession that requires you to sit down for most of the day – it’s a worrying headline. The fact of the matter is as humans, we weren’t designed to spend the large majority of the day sitting. Equally, spending hours on our feet can cause other aches and pains too. Sometimes it’s actually a relief to be able to sit down!

So, what is the answer? In this post we will cover the pros and cons of both. We’ll also cover the best practices to minimise the effects of both on your overall health.

Sitting

Environments such as offices and call centres involve long periods of sitting for employees. Jobs that require us to sit all day leads to a sedentary lifestyle, increasing our risk of being overweight, developing type 2 diabetes, cancer, and even early death. If the desk isn’t the right height and the chair is of poor quality, this can also cause back and neck ache too. Sitting down for too long can also make us feel lethargic, reducing productivity which is bad for business.

Sitting is however, the preferred choice for most workers. It’s convenient, and saves space too. There are ways you can make long periods of sitting less taxing on employees. This includes encouraging stretching and exercising throughout the day. If space permits, then standing desks are also an option to consider. This is especially ideal for those with existing pain issues associated with sitting.

Given the majority of us sit at our jobs, it’s also worth putting thought into your office design as a whole. Having plenty of room to move around in, as well as the option of working in different areas of the premises can all help. An added benefit is variety helps avoid employee fatigue, especially if there are areas with comfortable workstations or lots of natural light.

Standing

So, being up on our feet means we are more active, therefore less likely to suffer aches and pains, right? Well, long periods of standing can cause ailments such back pain, swollen legs, varicose veins and stiffness in the neck and shoulders. In industries such as hairdressing, complaints can also include hip pain and locked joints in the neck and spine.

One way to avoid your employees developing issues, is to provide plenty of comfortable seating for the time they do have to sit down. An important area is break rooms, which should have plenty of seating for everyone. If your employees feel rested after their break, then they are more likely to be productive when they return to work. Plus, it will encourage social bonding, promoting health and happiness within the workplace.

Another step is to ensure floors are carpeted, making them more comfortable to stand on for long periods of time versus hard surfaces. At ACI, we’d be more than happy to discuss flooring and other health and safety aspects with you, if you are looking to undertake an office refurbishment.

Best practices

Whether you stand or sit at work, there are some practical tips you can follow to maximise your health and happiness in the workplace.

If you spend most of the day sitting, it’s important you do so in a chair and desk that offers the right comfort and support. A drop in productivity, not to mention time off work and potential civil claims for a poor workspace are serious concerns for any employer. While it might be tempting to keep costs down by buying cheap furniture, in reality, it could cost your business a lot more in the long run.

It’s also a good idea to frequently move around and stretch while you’re at your desk. Exercise is also crucial to offset the time spent sitting down. Activities such as cardio is great for boosting circulation. In addition, yoga and pilates can help combat aches and pains from sitting for too long.

For those who stand all the time, be mindful of backache or joint stiffness which can also be worsened by your choice of footwear. Great posture can also be beneficial, especially avoiding slouching.

If your job does allow for some sitting down, then be sure to take the opportunity, as a mix of being seated and standing could help avoid repetitive strain.

To sum up

Whether you spend hours on your feet or sat at a desk – each option has pros and cons. The takeaway is to ensure you get plenty of exercise, stretch and avoid standing or sitting in the same position for too long. After all, we all have to work and each occupation will take its toll on our bodies in some form or another. The key is to recognise the signals, and make adjustments wherever possible to minimise the impact.

Your office design can also contribute towards the health and wellness of your employees. An example is open-plan workspaces, that allow your team to get up and moved around, rather than be fixed at their desks.  Comfortable furniture and lots of natural light can also improve wellbeing, especially given we spend approximately 90% of our lives indoors.

Here at Advanced Commercial Interiors, beautiful office design is what we do best. From breathing new life into existing spaces, to helping you maximise your new office design too.


If you’d like to find out more, call us on 0115 939 7572 with any questions you might have! We’re more than happy to help.