Preliminary research suggested that the use of standing desks reduced the risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and lowered long-term mortality risk. Experts recommended alternating between standing and sitting, citing that standing for long periods of time can lead to back, knee or foot problems.
Suddenly, “sitting was the new smoking” and many companies began the transition from traditional desks to standing desks or sit-stand desks.
A recent meta-analysis* of the 20 best-designed studies showed that there was little evidence to support the claims that standing desks have the health benefits cited by earlier studies; however, if you currently use a standing/sit-stand desk, fear not, as you might still be reaping benefits including increased cognitive performance and higher productivity levels – up to 45% higher in some cases. (Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, 2016).
And then there is this…We’d love to hear your thoughts on this one!
Erin Reid coined the term “cult of busy” to describe the way our workforce has become: jobs come first in the hierarchy and constant availability is the expectation. With the increased ability to always have your work at your fingertips (e.g. email linked to your phone), the assumption of 24/7 accessibility has only intensified – and continues to do so.
Working all the time should lead to more productivity, right? Wrong-o. Harvard Business Review and The New York Times have shared studies and stories of the problems that arise from constant work – employees crying and passing out from exhaustion, high turnover rates, and lack of diversity among your workforce being among them.
So how are we coping with this ever-growing demand for the 24/7 workplace? Quite disfunctionally, as discussed by Huff Post writer Emily Peck. She talks about three ways we are “adapting” to the work-all-the-time demand.
1. Accepting Just give in and work all the time. Give up the deep relationships, community engagement, and physical well-being for the job. Just keep plugging away until you reach the burnout stage.
2. Passing The “fake it” strategy for coping. Technology makes it easy to be working wherever you are…and equally as easy to fake that you are working wherever you are. Talk about a large window for rampant disengagement.
Some people actually ask for flex time and limits. However, this is often met with penalties and/or disappointment for not always putting work first. “Are you going to be a professional or are you going to be just an average person in your field?”
So now that we are aware that this is the culture we are currently working in, what do we do about it? Emily mentions that the only solution is through collective action – banding together to try and make collective movements toward recognizing the “always on” moments, finding bosses and co-workers that don’t work weekends, and stopping the scheduling of meetings at 5 p.m.
Minda Zetlin wrote an article on Inc.com that gets us thinking…about our brains. The co-founders of a software company called Aditazz found that two very capable employees, and architect and an engineer, were going about a project from two different approaches. And therefore, they found they had difficulty moving forward.
“Innovation comes from combining disciplines, but people in different disciplines don’t think the same way.”
They discovered the root of the problem was in the brain. Zetlin writes that the idea “that the right brain hemisphere controls creativity and the left logic has been debunked. But research shows that the left brain is more responsible for language, whereas the right takes care of spatial processing and attention.” The differences in processes from each person at Aditazz stemmed from their differences in their brains. The engineer preferred one approach, but the architect preferred something totally different.
So what did they do? They decided to revamp their startup meetings. Normally, they would hold a one to two-hour meeting that would get off-course, and it would result in very little being accomplished. Instead, Aditazz decided to take a different approach. They created a different space, with comfortable seating, snacks, and plenty of space for people to sit as a group. This gave employees a space to take their own approaches, but then feel comfortable enough to share those with others. The group discussed what success meant and learned more about each other’s thought processes. As a result, the employees felt safe and open to collaboration with one another. Employees felt more friendliness and empathy towards one another as well.
“We all have the same 168 hours in a week. But not all of them are created equal.”
This is the tagline for the article by Shane Parrish posted on Observer.com (read the full article here) that discusses the secret to productivity – get up earlier than everyone else.
Shane talks with a man named Joel, who has successfully found a way to balance work, family, writing, reading, and hobbies all in his 24-hour day (same 24 hours as ours, which is hard to believe). Joel says his only secret is that he just gets up earlier. That’s it.
We’re more creative and more productive.
Shane goes on in the article to explain that the early morning hours are great for doing tough work or working on creative projects because you don’t get constantly interrupted. No meetings, no phone calls, no fires to put out…we can focus on what we WANT to do instead of what we HAVE to do, resulting in more creativity and productivity.
Many people wait to do that kind of work until they finally have time to themselves in the evening: after work is done, kids are in bed, dinner has been eaten, etc. But the problem with this, as Shane explains, is that by the time you get to that part of the day, you are mentally – and perhaps physically – spent. It is easier to just sit on the couch and watch TV than to do what you had originally planned. However, in the morning, you are reenergized and ready to take on the day.