Be Better at the Basics

Stand Up for Your Health

By | Be Better at the Basics, Work Better

Be Better at the Basics

Part 4


This week, we’re looking at the increasingly popular world of Sit-Stand Desks! While the idea has been around for over two decades, a greater focus on health and productivity in the workplace has seen a huge spike in interest around the sit-stand approach in recent years. For this week’s blog, Andy has put together some information, thoughts, and handy tips for both those new to the concept, and for those who want to get more out of their own desk!

With sit-stand desks firmly on the office furniture radar, there’s never been a better time to look into a height-adjustable desk for personal or office use. The internet is filled with some fantastic sources of information about these innovative products, but there’s also a great deal of confusion and misinformation as to exactly what they can do for you, and how to best use them – but don’t worry! We’re here to shed a little light on this subject, and hopefully dispel some of the myths and misconceptions that have managed to find their way into the conversation! 

Why is Sitting Bad?

If you’ve heard of sit-stand desks, you’ll almost certainly have heard the phrase “Sitting is the new smoking.” It’s exactly the kind of soundbite-friendly line that will find its way to social media and into the public eye – but like most of these kinds of lines, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Most of the workforce in the modern world tend to have very sedentary working habits – we spend almost all of our time sitting at a desk, or staying in one place without much physical exertion or travelling between locations. This isn’t particularly good for the human body.

Sitting in a chair for all of the 8-10 hours that the average UK worker spends seated has a real negative impact on circulation – especially in the legs and glutes – and our metabolism will slow down after only 20 minutes of inactivity.

A huge number of people also use workstations either poorly configured for them or not configured at all, putting additional strain on our bodies through bad posture and uncomfortable positioning.

Why is Sit- Stand Better?

A very common, and entirely logical-seeming misconception is that replacing your desk with a sit-stand one and standing behind it all day is better for you. You’re not sitting for hours at a time any more, so problem solved right?

Not quite – standing for 8-10 hours at a time has its own host of downsides, like aching feet and a tired back.

The real value of a sit-stand desk comes from using it for both sitting and standing – hence their name! Variation in your working position ensures that you avoid the pitfalls of being static for long periods of time, whilst still benefitting from both the comfort of a good chair and the physiological benefits of being upright and engaged.

Standing engages supporting muscles in the legs and back that, for many of us who spend a long time sitting, are likely to be weakened from all of the hours spent with a chair doing their job for them. Naturally, suddenly asking more of your back than it’s used to doing is likely to overwork those muscles, and potentially cause strain or injury.

Like all physical exertion, the best approach is to start out small and gradually build up – the same applies to standing; 20 minutes out of your chair every hour or two is much more manageable starting point and will make you far more likely to feel – and appreciate! – the benefits of doing so.

How to Use A Sit- Stand Desk:

Making sure your desk is set up correctly for you is the single most important part of using a sit-stand desk – or any piece of office furniture, for that matter.

Poor posture will affect you whether you’re sitting or standing, so making sure your body is under the minimum possible stress has a noticeable effect on comfort and health.

Monitor height: Dipping your neck or craning to look at a screen that’s not at the correct height is an almost surefire way to suffer an aching or cramped neck. Ideally, your monitor should be at a height that puts the upper edge roughly in line with the top of your head, so that your eyes naturally rest on the middle area of your screen.

Keyboard height: Likewise, a keyboard that’s too far away or at the wrong height can lead to poor circulation, cramp, or an increased risk of RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury). The optimal setup is to have your keyboard at or just below your elbows, with adequate support under the wrists to ensure that they aren’t straining or resting at an unnatural angle when your hands are on your mouse and/or keys.

An adjustable height desk is the most reliable way to keep your workstation in a position that’s right for you, and makes it much easier to quickly adjust a desk that was set up for someone else in an office that operates under a hotdesking system. Different desks will have different travel heights – their lowest and highest possible desk heights – so when choosing a desk, it’s important to make sure that it’s of a size that will suit you. For example; the ConSet 501-27 can be set as low as 54cm, making it ideal for use by both children and adults, while the 501-33 bottoms out at 68cm and is less suited to smaller users.

Most sit-stand desks tend to be electronically operated, with motors that will raise and lower the desktop at the touch of a button – though there are options out there with a hand crank for the more hands-on (or budget conscious!).

Getting the Most Out of Your Sit- Stand Desk

Once your desk is properly set up, there’s still plenty of ways to get more out of the sit-stand approach and keep the benefits coming! Here’s a few rapid-fire tips to get into good, healthy habits around the workplace:

+Accessorise Accordingly: If you’re going to be standing up for a while, your choice of footwear is going to be much more important than usual! Well cushioned shoes will make a world of difference, and the flatter they are the better! For extra comfort, why not try a padded anti-fatigue mat too?

+Stay on the Move: We mentioned earlier that metabolism slows down after just 20 minutes of activity – so taking regular walking breaks is a great way to keep the blood pumping and your body ticking over. Whether it’s physically going over to a colleague rather than sending a quick email, or even just getting up to go to the bathroom, moving around often is a good habit to get into!

+I Can Do That Standing Up: Even when you’re on a planned period of sitting, there are plenty of tasks that are doable whilst standing without the need for raising your desk. Taking phonecalls, short meetings, or just those few moments while you’re waiting on that one bit of paperwork from downstairs are all great excuses to stand – even if it’s literally to get up, do a few stretches, then sit back down again.

+Optimal Arrangement: If your office has a bench system or rows of desks, putting a sit-stand desk on the end is a great way to encourage people to stand when they need to confer or work together, or even just to remind you about getting up if you’ve been sitting down for a while!  

And that’s all from me for this week! There’s a lot of information and claims out there regarding sit-stand desks, but hopefully it’ll all make a little more sense now and some of the common misconceptions will have been cleared up.

Have a great, healthy week at work – and we’ll see you next week!

Join us next week for Part 1 of  a new topic…

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Want to be more productive throughout 2018?

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Our favourite tip for GDPR

By | Be Better at the Basics, Work Better


Welcome to the first part of our new monthly theme – this February, we want to Be Better at the Basics!

This week, we’re tackling something that’s been affecting loads of workplaces this Spring – the introduction of GDPR.

Personal data is on everyone’s minds at the moment, with the new GDPR legislation on the horizon and big fines on the way for businesses that don’t comply.

Here at Office Needs, we’re in the same boat as a lot of businesses – working our way through all the guidance to double check that we’re compliant with the new changes, and making sure our best practice is even better in 2018.

We read a great quote recently from Rowenna Fielding (@Missig_geek) which we thought was incredibly useful for working our way through it…

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new regulation intended to strengthen data protection for all individuals within the EU. When it comes into force on May 25th, it will be a big change for many companies in the way they handle data. While many businesses already have good data protection practice at the heart of their company policies, sometimes it’s easy to forget the simple steps you can take to improve security and keep your company compliant at every level.

Our favourite tip for helping everyone in your organisation through GDPR is simple (and comes courtesy of Rowenna Fielding (@Missig_geek ) in this article:

“Forget ticking ‘compliance’ boxes and start treating personal data the same way your organization treats money – know where it comes from, who’s using it, for what, where it’s kept and where it goes. Then compliance – and good customer experience – should come naturally.”

So how might we put this into practice?

1. Know where your data comes from

We assume you wouldn’t let employees collect piles of unrecorded cash from customers – so why let unrecorded data float around?

Talking to your team about all the ways they collect information will help you identify all the entry points for personal data in your organisation. For some businesses, there aren’t too many of these, but just remember that every time someone phones up and their details get scribbled on a note – that’s data!

Finding all the entry points will then help you with step two…

2. Work out how it travels

When it comes to money, businesses are usually pretty good at knowing all the places it will move to, and how secure they are. But when is the last time you worked out the full life cycle of your customer data?

Working out its direction of travel is an exercise best conducted with your whole team – check who sees what, where they save it, how they use it, where it’s backed up to, when it gets reviewed and how it gets destroyed.

Once you have a full map, you can start amending your processes to double check you’re all ready for GDPR.

3. Check who has access

You wouldn’t allow anyone and everyone to have access to your business’s money – but do you definitely know who has access to your data?

Lots of organisations now have cloud-based sharing software, and like team members to be able to access each other’s files. While that’s very convenient, it’s incredibly important to keep an eye on who can access what. And while it might seem like a good plan to lock those files down with a basic password that everyone can remember (Password123, anyone?), you wouldn’t do it for your money, so don’t do it for your data.

Don’t forget, if you have team members who need to move data around offline, you can still benefit from password protection. Encrypted hard drives and pen drives are a great way to ensure that if a drive ever gets left lying around in the office (or much worse – on a train!), you can prevent unwanted access with a password. And with some drives, if the wrong password is entered too many times, the data is erased. Much safer than a normal drive!

4. Plan properly for your physical assets

If you deal with cash, you’re probably used to moving it safely between cash boxes, tills, safes or other secure repositories until you can get it to the bank. But are you treating your physical data with the same respect?

Having secure places for your physical copies of data to go is crucial. It’s also not as hard as you might think – adding a lockable pedestal to your desk setup means you can safely hold all your files without needing to find space for a full filing cabinet.

Plus, when it’s time to destroy that data, there are now loads of great options to shred securely, even if the physical asset is a CD! Investing in a good office shredder could be the perfect way to bring your data destruction policies up to date, or if you have large volumes to regularly destroy, consider using a dedicated shredding service to take care of it securely.

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That’s all from us for this week, hope this tip helps you too as you prepare for GDPR! If you have any other advice that might help out fellow readers, why not share it with us on social media?

Until next time, have a safe, secure and productive week!

Join us next week for a Valentine’s Day themed Part 2 of ‘Be Better at the Basics’!

If you’ve got thoughts on what you’d like us to cover next, why not get in touch with us on social media? We’d love to hear from you!

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Want to be more productive throughout 2018?

Keep up with this blog for tips, tricks and great products to help you!