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    Why standing desks should get more Australians back on their feet

    Deborah Singerman

    When you reach your crowd-funding target of $50,000 in 38 minutes you know you are onto something. Just after Easter American company, StandDesk (pictured right) , had more than 1,000 backers with US$395,000 pledged and 22 days to go in their campaign. It is enough to make you leap up in the air which is, of course, one on the positions sedentary workers should effect in a normal day; anything but sitting.

    Mashable reported, The Affordable Desk That Could Make Standing at the Office Mainstream, and Business Insider  wrote, We Found A Standing Desk That's Both Automatic And Affordable”. Modestly, StandDesk plans to use the money to purchase tooling and increase manufacturing efficiency, says founder Steven Yu, who flits between Shanghai and San Francisco, at least. The timetable is for tooling and trails in June, production July and shipping to Kickstarter backers from September onwards.

    The desk’s lifting dimensions are up to 1143 mm and down to 711.2 mm, and it can lift 102.06 kg (225 lbs, which StandDesk says is playing safe). Surfaces are bamboo, white and black; the frame, in black or grey, weighs 27.7 kg. There is standard two-button control and memory control with four preset options; a neat cable management tray option under the table top; and the customised motor (“working with a supplier with over 20 years’ experience in motor design and manufacturing” says Yu) is promoted as having been tested over 10,000 times.

    Simon Van Dam, an occupational therapist and director at backcare & seating, a Dandenong-based company that makes sit-stand desks, points to the increasingly well-documented risk factors of not getting off your backside enough (and literally, to avoid the dreaded spread). They include: obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, musculoskeletal disorders, muscle degeneration and foggy brain. Conversely, standing time can help creativity, mood, physical health and productivity.

    He has noticed sit-stand desks becoming more popular over the last two years, as has Ebony Ebenwaldner, marketing at LINAK Australia that designs and manufactures electric actuator components, which allow the movement from full sitting to full standing (at the touch of a button).

    Baker-IDI and the University of Queensland research (commissioned by VicHealth) suggest the problem with office workers (12 per cent of the workforce) spending 75 per cent of time at the desk is significant, as is the 21.5 hours of television a week we watch (the report was in 2012). Victoria Health’s suggestions for improving health include employers providing sit-stand desks. This certainly expands the meaning of activity-based workplaces.

    LINAK says there is an American boom in sit-stand desks. Australia is high on StandDesk’s list of countries to target, and generally, IT workers and start-ups, then people with health problems, and architects and designers are in their sights. These desks may still be a niche product here but demand and longer term supply may make them a lot more mainstream.

     

     

    Deborah Singerman is a Sydney-based journalist and editor, specialising in architecture and design, including city, community, society, economy, sustainability and culture.

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