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In this day and age, more companies are putting in an effort to put significance to mental health in the workplace. When employees are happy and healthy, they could perform better and hand in better work quality. In turn, the organization grows, and the company benefits, too.
Most companies turned to ergonomics to address the improvement of physical spaces to address health risks. Well-designed chairs and tables have solved physical challenges that could hinder work. But will this principle be able to address mental health in the workplace as well?
It doesn’t surprise that mental health in the workplace is one of the things ergonomics could also improve. In particular, standing desks could help a lot in improving one’s mental health in the workplace.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety defines a healthy workspace as a sum of physical and psychosocial health. This policy means that a workplace is only deemed fit for work if it provides a safe space to its employees physically and mentally.
Workplace ergonomics addresses these employee health issues. The entire discipline of ergonomics is centred around the comfort of an employee. It identifies the pain points that would pose a challenge to an employee in doing their work well. Whether it’s persistent back pain or the lack of motivation, there is something in ergonomics that could help address the issue and find a realistic solution to solve the problem.
Standing desks had been known to help employees with their physical health. Aside from relieving back pains and stiff necks, standing desks had been known to help employees transition to a more active lifestyle. Standing burns more calories than sitting down. It also allows the body to move around more freely, making employees feel more comfortable at work.
There are a lot of studies on how standing desks can link comfort and physical health to productivity. But how does standing while working help in improving mental health in the workplace? And more importantly, will addressing these mental health issues help improve productivity?
You’ll be surprised at how much standing desks can help improve mental health and productivity in the workplace. Read on to find out.
The human brain works in a strange and complex way. For our brains to concentrate on a big task at hand, there have to be some small tasks to keep them engaged. These are mindless activities, like tapping the foot or fidgeting on your seat, that helps the brain focus on one major activity.
When we stand while working, our brain thinks of it as the one mindless activity it could preoccupy itself. In turn, the brain’s cognitive functions could concentrate on our work at hand better. The study showed that small stress levels cut away a bit of complacency from our brain and keep it alert. When it is more alert, our brain could engage with bigger tasks better.
This concept is also the reason why we could focus better when we feel more challenged at work. Easy tasks bore our brains. When we’re standing while working, our brain has to engage in both keeping the body upright and doing our work at the same time.
Aside from the mental function, standing also helps in the blood circulation in our brain. Standing forces our hearts to pump more blood to support the entire body, allowing more oxygenated blood into our brain. Oxygenated blood helps our brain function better and thus improving our concentration.
A study has linked posture and position with mental well-being. Sitting for long periods can be associated with severe depression and anxiety. The study has suggested that cutting down on sitting time could improve mental health. Standing desks can improve your sit-to-stand ratio by allowing you to stand while working.
If you're a bit skeptical if you could use standing desks right away, you could ease your way into the habit by using programmable standing desks. These desks allow you to customize when to sit and stand while working.
Stress and fatigue are some of the issues linked to mental health in the workplace. It is understandable that when one undergoes incredible stress, their energy levels are affected badly. Concentration is shot, and productivity decreases.
Using standing desks at work addresses these issues. A study has shown that employees who used standing desks experienced less stress and fatigue than their seated counterparts. The sample group added that their energy levels supported their activities throughout the day.
It is interesting to note that two weeks after the short study, the sample group reverted to their previous behaviour after the standing desks were removed in their workplace.
Another study found out that employees who used standing desks showed improvement in their job performance and work engagement. For 12 months, the study compared two groups of employees, one seated and the other standing, and found differences for various factors, including daily anxiety, quality of life, job performance, and work engagement.
This observation also supports the earlier mentioned study about engaging the brain with mindless tasks.
When we’re standing, our brain is preoccupied with keeping the body functioning. The body is less relaxed. Muscles are engaged to keep our balance. Keeping one side of our brain engaged with keeping our bodily functions gives us a slight mental edge to keep the brain engaged. In turn, this helps the brain focus better, positively affecting work engagement and job performance.
Improving mental health in the workplace could directly affect one’s productivity. When employees are more engaged and can concentrate better, they could produce more work at a better quality. This study reported by the Washington Post found an increase of up to 53% in productivity when their sample group used standing desks. A boost in productivity not only helps companies and organizations improve their bottom line. It also goes back to employees by boosting their self-confidence and morale, which improves their overall mental health.
The principle of ergonomics has holistic benefits, from the physical to the psychosocial. In particular, standing desks help improve mental health in the workplace. It allows employees to improve their sit-to-stand ratio, which cuts down sedentary time. On the cognitive level, standing desks help in engaging the brain more, allowing better concentration.
Aside from the mental benefits, standing desks could also help address many health issues. To learn more about these health benefits, check out this article on how standing desk converters can improve health and posture.