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10 Factors to Consider If Purchasing a Sit-Stand Solution

Jun 24, 2019

Guest blog by David Bernardi, Ergonomic Consultant, President of Summit Ergonomics

Part two of a three-part series

Your company has made the decision to purchase Sit-Stand units for employees, either for accommodation or corporate-wide deployment. You are tasked with execution of this initiative. With so many sit-stand options on the market, how do you decide which ones are worth the money?

  1. Encourage Frequent Transition and Reduce Risk
    The sit-stand should facilitate the ability to go up & down as many times as one wants during the workday. Researchers suggest 30-40 transitions per day are ideal to combat sedentarism. While mechanical sit-stands can transition rapidly, they often require potentially harmful postures and spine loading to raise and lower the device. An effective electric sit-stand will transition in about 10 seconds with no risk of back strain or overload.
  2. Ergonomics: Height Range to Match User’s Proper Settings
    A sit-stand should accommodate a user’s proper ergonomic sitting and standing positions. The typical office desk is configured to a height of 29.5”. The average female is 5’4” and anatomical data tells us that her hands will fall at about 25” when she is seated with proper ergonomics. Placing a sit-stand device on top of the desk that is already too tall for the user further increases the risk of developing musculoskeletal issues for seated work. Ensure the range of the sit-stand accommodates the user that the device is intended for. The ANSI/HFES -BIFMA standard for sit-stand desks is a range of 22.7” – 48.5”
  3. Digital Display of Height
    Ergonomic databases provide guidelines for proper sitting and standing positions based on the user’s height. A digital display of the desk’s height gives feedback that one is in the correct position and gives a repeatable reference for future positioning. Many devices simply offer up/down arrows which leave one to guess about position.
  4. Programmable Settings
    Better yet, the ability to program and store settings offers repeatability especially in a shared-desking or multi-shift environment. Some desks now offer apps that allow you to control your desk remotely and encourage transitions with reminders. Reminders have been shown to increase overall usage rates.
  5. Use Your Existing Worksurface
    One of the biggest complaints about sit-stands that set on top of a desk is the space they take up and the little workspace they offer. Raising & lowering the entire workspace increases productivity thru more efficient use of space and provides a more attractive solution.
  6. Highly Stable at Standing Heights
    Many sit-stand solutions have a fair amount wobble, and can create an annoying vibration during typing, especially at their elevated positions. All-in-one sit-stand units that clamp to the desk tend to shake with the slightest keystroke. Electric desks with sheet metal feet and poor design tolerancing in their legs can be annoyingly unstable. Look for solid design, heavy feet and tight tolerances.
  7. Dedicated Motor for Each Leg
    If you opt for an electric desk, select a solution that has dedicated motors for each leg which are synchronized electronically. These units are faster and capable of heavier loads. Avoid desks with just one motor which rely on a mechanical coupling to synchronize the legs. They are a maintenance nightmare and have shorter warranties.
  8. Expandable for Different Desk Widths
    Many electric sit-stands are of a fixed width, meaning you have to select a particular sized desktop, either 48, 60, or 72”. An adjustable width desk provides greater flexibility and allows a “one-unit fits all” approach for inventory management, flexibility and rapid deployment.
  9. Upgradable
    If you purchase a 2 leg electric desk for a rectangular work surface and decide later on that you want to expand your workspace to an “L” or a “U”, does the manufacturer you’ve chosen have a program that would provide an upgrade path to allow this or are you forced to purchase a completely new desk to accommodate your changing needs ?
  10. Economics and Warranty
    The prices of electric sit-stand units have come way down in price in the last 5 years due to their popularity. Most brands are made by the same 3 or 4 manufacturers. Why pay extra for a name? Consider the warranty length when making a purchasing decision and factor the company’s longevity as a supplier of sit-stands.

Solid 2 leg electric sit-stand units with the criteria outlined above can be purchased for about the price of a desktop-based option. Do your homework, ask questions, test demo units internally and you will be much happier in the long run.

About the Author: David Bernardi has a master’s degree in bioengineering and is currently an ergonomic consultant and president of Summit Ergonomics in Manchester NH.

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