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Sit-Stand Desks – Truth or Sales Pitch?

Much has been said and written about sit-stand desks in the twenty years that they have been available in various forms. But not all of it is accurate.
I have been selling sit-stand desks for nearly twenty years and wholeheartedly recommend their use as part of a wider health and productivity regime.
Unfortunately, their attributes have been misappropriated by some as a panacea to avoid a range of serious health conditions and avert early death.
Exploding the myths
Much of the recent publicity has been advanced by the pick-up of the 2012 systematic review and meta-analysis concerning prolonged seating by Wilmot, Edwardson, Achana et al. From a collective sample of approximately 800,000 participants, the researchers concluded that sedentary time is associated with a number of diseases affecting early mortality.
It was an interpretation of these studies that coined the phrase ‘Sitting is the new smoking’ which has quickly and wrongly become named as a standard reason for the use of sit-stand desks.
A later Consensus Statement (not a research paper) ‘The sedentary office: a growing case for change towards better health and productivity’ recommends periods of ‘standing and light activity’, standing-based work regularly breaking up sitting time and the use of sit-stand desks plus short active breaks.
Movement is important
What is missed in the interpretations is that it’s about sitting less not standing more. It is not just a binary choice. The debate is more complicated than that. Movement is also an essential constituent but our individual needs, fitness and more can influence the equation.
Movement should include the frequent use of ‘gravity muscles’ i.e. climbing steps and stairs and stretching. It’s the frequency of use rather than for how long which is important (research: Dr Joan Vernikos, NASA).
Sit less and move more
Let’s put this into context for individuals and employers:
• Good posture, whether sitting or standing, is essential.
• Don’t sit or stand for too long.
• Drink lots of water. It’s good for you and creates a natural break.
• Try standing or walking meetings.
• Consider tasks better suited to standing i.e. sort papers and files.
• Stand, or walk, for telephone conversations.
• Scrap internal emailing, speak to the person.
• Park as far away from the workplace/shops as possible.
• Use the stairs, not the lift.
• Wear a fitness tracker to track your steps.
• Do stretching exercises at your desk and/or on the move.
• Enrol in health programmes.
• Raise your sit-stand desk up high at the end of the day to make it easier for cleaners and forcing you to reposition in the morning.
• Raise your desk when colleagues approach and talk/meet standing up.
For organisations: sit-stand furniture means a culture change. Training, education and user support are essential.
Optimising performance
• Training how to use sit-stand desks, when to make posture changes and what good posture feels like (sitting and standing).
• Install “poseur tables” for short standing meetings/touch-down use.
• Replace some meeting tables with standing versions.
• Slow down the lift(s) to encourage stair use.
• Hot-Desking areas: install a pair of sit-stand desks at the end of each set of standard desks.
• Use schemes like Global Corporate Challenge which encourage movement and foster team building.
• Create walking routes around your premises.
• Label routes and staircases with calories burned (StepJockey).
• Incorporate posture and ergonomics into your health and wellbeing programmes.
• Gamify your workplace to encourage movement.
In summary:
• Sit-stand desks are not the sole solution.
• Ensure people are trained about good sitting and standing postures.
• Make frequent posture changes whilst sitting; get up every 20-30 minutes.
• Don’t just swap sitting for standing.
• Create opportunities to walk and move about during your working day.
• Be critical of what you hear! Is it true or is it just a sales pitch?
Guy Osmond, Osmond Ergonomics, February 2018
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This article first appeared in the Winter/Spring 2018 edition of Connect magazine from Cardinus Risk Management.


Floods ‘more damaging’ than the Beast from the East

• Frozen water mains burst causing widespread flooding in Midlands and other locations
• Major disruption to retailers across the country, will result in lost revenue
• Cleaning up flood damage and drying out buildings another cost to businesses
Flooding from burst water mains is likely to cause more damage and be more costly for many businesses than the Beast from the East big freeze that has triggered it, warns national emergency cleaning company CleanSafe Services.
The company’s specialist cleaning teams have been working around the clock since the thaw started to support their customers’ disaster recovery plans and enable them to keep trading where possible.
They have been mobilised to pump out floodwater, clean flood damage, and begin the drying process at retail sites as far apart as Manchester, London, Northampton, Blackpool, and Bath.
Birmingham and the Midlands have been particularly badly hit. CleanSafe Services is working on flooding at sites in central Birmingham, Longbridge, Kings Heath, Solihull, and Halesowen.
Businesses calling for urgent help are mostly in the retail sector, including outlets from national clothing, sportwear and footwear chains. CleanSafe Services is also delivering flood damage recovery support for one of the UK’s most high-profile opticians and an international bank, both with properties hit by floods.
CleanSafe Services Director Martin Bull said: “We’ve assessed the damage and are seeking to help customers keep parts of their premises open for business as usual – obviously with health and safety considerations at the forefront.
“Every hour the disruptions and closures prevent retail customers from buying means significant lost revenue on top of the cost of repairs. This is why specialist flood recovery support is so vital for business continuity, to draw on technical expertise to clear and dry flood water as quickly and safely as possible.
“The week of unusually cold weather was a significant financial and operational burden for a lot of businesses. But for many, the recovery from the subsequent flooding could be more arduous and take even longer.
CleanSafe Services Manager Geoff Hodgkins said: “As soon as the sub-zero temperatures took hold we were aware that localised flooding from water main bursts could follow, and started putting plans in place to provide emergency support for our customers.
“Floodwater from water mains is initially clean. But if it is left to stand it quickly becomes polluted and is an incubator for bacteria and parasites, so may have to be treated as a hazardous waste.
“Mains water can also enter and surcharge sewers, causing sewage flooding, which creates an environmental hazard that must be contained immediately.
“We are working with facilities managers, insurance companies, building contractors and shop- and office-fitters on cleaning and drying the flood-damaged buildings. Most of our commercial clients incorporate us in their disaster recovery plans to make it easier and quicker to call on our services, which helps ensure business continuity as far as possible.
CleanSafe Services delivers specialist emergency cleaning services nationally via four depots in London, Cannock, in Staffordshire, Manchester, and Scotland. It has particular expertise in flood and fire damage cleaning, biohazard cleaning, and crime scene cleaning.


Baxi Heating Boosts Business Development Team

Baxi Heating has strengthened its business development team across its commercial brands with the appointment of a new national account manager. James McKoen will be responsible for building and maintaining strong relationships with main contractor customers in an effort to deliver the company’s objectives for customer loyalty and growth.
James joins Baxi Heating from Vent Axia, where he developed extensive knowledge of working in a key account role in the ventilation market, particularly with main contractors. Based at Baxi Heating’s Commercial Centre of Excellence in Wokingham but working in the field, he will be the lead contact for all key account customers and report into business development director Neville Small.
James comments: “Baxi Heating is a leading heating brand with a strong reputation for delivering results for commercial clients. I look forward to using my experience in managing strong customer relationships to help support the expansion of the main contractors business and drive new project opportunities in the sector.”
Neville Small, business development director for the commercial brands at Baxi Heating, says: “With proven field sales experience, James will strengthen our business development team by becoming a dedicated point of contact for Andrews Water Heaters, Potterton Commercial, Remeha and Packaged Plant Solutions (PPS)
“Baxi Heating is committed to ambitious growth plans and the appointment enhances our capabilities of targeting main contractor accounts.”
Baxi Heating is a residential and commercial heating and hot water manufacturer, and consists of Baxi, Potterton, Baxi Potterton Myson, Heatrae Sadia, Megaflo Andrews Water Heaters, Potterton Commercial, Remeha and Packaged Plant Solutions (PPS). Baxi Heating’s UK Commercial Centre of Excellence in Wokingham, Berkshire is the head office for Andrews Water Heaters, Potterton Commercial and Remeha, providing customers with easy access to a one-stop-shop for commercial water heaters, commercial boilers and combined heat and power products.

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