We won’t stand for higher costs
May 12-16 sees the return of Avery’s Green Office Week when businesses are encouraged to turn off the lights, recycle waste, turn down the thermostat and adopt other green measures. The week is a useful reminder of our environmental responsibilities, but today green practices are much more likely to be adopted for sound business reasons – to save money or improve business processes – rather than out of a desire to protect the environment. The row over subsidies for renewable energy and the impact they have on energy bills shows the limits of most people’s eco-consciousness. We know what’s right, but there’s a limit to what we are prepared to pay. This is the problem facing the ‘Get Britain Standing’ campaign (http://getbritainstanding.org), which has been set up to promote the health benefits of sit-stand working. Evidence of the risks of prolonged sitting are increasing, but in reality we have known for a long time that a sedentary lifestyle is damaging. Yet, still less than 1% of Britons use sit-stand desks, compared to 80% in Scandinavia. And the main reason is cost: employers just aren’t prepared to pay extra for the desks, even before you consider the practicalities or aesthetics of their use in open plan offices.
So does this mean that UK workers are condemned to stay seated all day? Not at all. Advances in technology and office design mean many workers already have mobile workstyles and the chance to work at home, where they can adopt any posture they want. Nor should employers feel obliged to provide sit-stand workstations for all. It may be enough just to place a few around the office that people can share. And these don’t have to be costly. To keep costs down, you can use a solution like the Varidesk (see page 26) or even construct your own DIY alternative.