Since my company made the shift to standing desks, reactions from visitors have ranged from slightly curious to startled.

"Do you force people to stand?" they ask. "Doesn't that get tiring?"

Nobody is forced to stand, of course, but a standing office isn't as radical as it may seem. Still, walking into a room full of people who are hard at work and standing can be a bit jarring because it goes against the traditional assumptions about what an office space is supposed to look like.

My industry tends to be a bit old-fashioned, and when one of my teammates first asked to switch to a standing desk, even I was surprised. But after he showed us the research, I saw that standing was extremely beneficial.

Flash-forward to today, and only four of our teammates remain seated. All of our excess chairs and desks have been donated to grateful Cambridge residents.

Maxwell Health isn't the only company that's standing, either. Google offers standing desks as part of its employee wellness program, and Facebook has more than 250 people using standing desks. Venture Capital went as far as outfitting its meeting rooms with standing desks when it discovered that standing leads to more active idea sharing. But that's not the only reason to ditch your old desks.

Sitting is the new smoking, and even if you get plenty of exercise, prolonged sitting is detrimental to your health. Sitting increases your risk of obesity, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and early death. In fact, one study found that if the average American reduced his sitting time to three hours a day, he could increase his life expectancy by two years.

If you spend your weekdays standing, you'll feel more alert and energetic and burn as many calories as running 10 marathons a year. Standing encourages open communication among teammates because it allows people to move around freely. Plus, there are some great-looking standing desks out there.

How to Get Your Team to Join the Standing Revolution

Regardless of the benefits, people are always wary of new ways of doing things, so you shouldn't try to get your entire team on board in one fell swoop.

Before you run out and buy 20 new desks, survey your team to gauge their interest in standing desks. Then, consider buying a couple to serve as a flex space in your office where team members can try them out for a few hours a day. You can even buy inexpensive adjustable IKEA tables before making a big investment. Many people will recognize the benefits quickly, and it won't be long before a sizeable portion of your team is on board.

Once your team members start to switch over, make sure you purchase proper anti-fatigue mats to cushion your feet and support proper spine alignment, along with high-quality adjustable high desk chairs to give you the option to sit when you like. As soon as sitting becomes a luxury rather than the default, you'll start to realize just how much time you spent sitting before!

I wouldn't suggest trying to force your entire team to adopt the standing lifestyle. It's not difficult to have part of your team standing while the rest sits, and you should be accommodating to those who prefer not to stand. Keep team dynamics in mind as you arrange office seating to ensure you aren't driving a wedge or disrupting communication between sitters and non-sitters. From my experience, many people will realize the benefits and make the switch on their own.

Standing desks are an invaluable investment in your team's health and productivity. They'll create an energetic office atmosphere, show the world that you're open to innovation, and--most importantly--demonstrate that you've got your employees' long-term interests at heart.

Published on: Feb 16, 2015