How Standing Up At Work Boosts Your Productivity And Mental Health

Standing up at work and the emergence of standing desk technology is not new but trends continue to arise about both its physical and psychological benefits.

Years ago, the only place you would see standing desks were in the headquarter offices of athletic apparel brands or running shoe companies. This creates an obvious neural association for a passerby because we are to assume that employees of an exercise-focused company are expected to participate in physical exercise in some way throughout their day. You would walk down the hall, see someone standing at their desk or sitting on a yoga ball instead of a chair and think "Yep, that makes sense."

Then that expectation became the norm for a lot of modern companies, instituting wellness initiatives for their employees and offering exercise programs right there in the office for them to use. As a result, you no longer saw standing desks just in fitness company offices.  

When the standing desk revolution hit its stride several years ago, an article posted to the Under30CEO blog offered a list of 6 reasons why standing at work is so much healthier for you. The list includes:

  1. You can live longer
  2. Reduce back pain
  3. Lose weight
  4. Clean desk space
  5. Increase productivity
  6. Adjust the height


The fact that human beings did not evolve from primitive hunter-gatherers to sit down in a chair with our body at 90 degree angles all day long is very well studied particularly in the fields of physical therapy and massage. Increased blood flow, improved balance, and less joint pain are not the only reasons people stand up at work. There is a significant psychological component as well for several reasons.

First, there is an element of free choice involved with a standing desk. The old norms demanded that you go to your office, sit at your desk for eight hours and work until you leave. Now, though, in the world of the Millennial uprising and the popularity of open concept offices with all the amenities, emmployees want flexibility. They want to be able to catch a yoga class at lunch and make it back for their conference call at their standing desk. For so many who have implemented exercise, nutrition and flexibility into their workdays, having to come back and be required to sit down for the rest of the day would feel like confinement. The choice is empowering to those who wish to customize the experience of their work to their physical needs. 

Second, the combination of the real physical benefits (like losing weight by standing) and the placebo effect of thinking about doing something healthy increase employee's productivity because it adds a boost of motivation. If you feel good about your body and your personal choices, you will feel more confident getting to work and tackling that to-do list. 

Due to the fact that standing is ultimately much more uncomfortable than sitting, standing also "creates a sense of urgency that keeps our attention honed in on the current project", so not only can you get more done, but you will get more done in a shorter period of time in order to avoid physical discomfort.