Research

Activating the Workplace

The Impact of Active Workstations on Employee Effectiveness

Today’s workforce understands that sitting all day is not healthy. As a result, employees are increasingly requesting more opportunities for movement throughout the workday. Workplace design has evolved to address sedentary behavior through active workstations, which allow individuals to experience the benefits of movement and posture change while engaging in productive work. Research on the health impacts of active workstations is well established, and most studies show an inverse relationship between the availability of active workstations and workers’ sedentary behavior. However, evidence of how these interventions impact employees beyond reducing sedentary behavior is still emerging. This paper contributes to this developing body of research by providing an overview of how active workstations affect an individual’s ability to effectively perform everyday job responsibilities. For the purposes of this paper, active workstations are defined as height-adjustable and treadmill desks. To explore the relationship between active workstations and employee effectiveness, a literature search was conducted. Articles were reviewed if they were published in a peer-reviewed journal within the past 10 years, analyzed more than just sedentary behavior, and were generalizable to the workplace. Findings suggest that height-adjustable desks have a neutral or positive impact on cognitive function and productivity/performance, and a positive impact on psychological outcomes, such as mood or energy levels. Research on the relationship between treadmill desks and employee effectiveness is still emerging, but preliminary evidence suggests that treadmill desks have a neutral or positive effect on cognitive function and psychological outcomes like boredom and satisfaction, and a mixed impact on productivity/performance. More robust, long-term studies are necessary to determine the impact that active workstations have on employee effectiveness over time.

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