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Workspace Trends: Stand Up Desks, Treadmill Desks, and Surf-in-Place Desks

The napping desk designed by Studio NL.

By Star Hughes-Gorup

As employee health and wellness is brought to the forefront of today’s workplace, alternatives for sitting at a desk for seven or more hours a day are becoming increasingly popular. Slogans like “Sitting is the new smoking,” and “Sitting is the most underrated health threat of modern time,” have only brought attention to some of our nation’s challenges of obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Enter creative desk solutions. It started with the “stand up desk” – the easiest and least expensive way to combat sitting at your desk for hours at a day while still getting your work done.

But we are now finding that standing alone is not enough. We are now seeing the rise of treadmill desks, bike desks, under desk elliptical machines, and…wait for it… surf-in-place desks trends.

While many have questioned employees’ abilities to get work done while on the treadmill, studies have shown that, after the initial learning curve of getting used to the treadmill, the long-term benefits are invaluable. According to the New York Times, “One study presented at the 2015 annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in San Diego found that previously sedentary office workers who walked slowly at a treadmill desk for two hours each workday for two months significantly improved their blood pressure and slept better at night.”

Surf-in-places desks are the latest phenomenon to combat sitting. Created by Joel Heath, a Colorado executive, the surf-in-place desk was created to improve upon those benefits of the stand up desks. Per Joel, “I started experiencing pain in different places. I just felt like there had to be a better way. I started to play with the idea that if you put a subtle rocker under the foot, you could move out of a sedentary state.” “The Level” was created out of that pain. For users, it feels as if they are standing on a surfboard, as it requires users’ bodies to continually adjust while standing on it. And how does it benefit your health? It elevates your heart rate by 15% compared to sitting at a traditional desk.

Now that’s a solution that I can stand behind.

Even more than a stand up desk, treadmill desk, and surf-in-place desk, I am most intrigued by the napping desk. Naps are proven to “increase alertness, lower stress and elevate your mood” – but the main issue with naps is that very few working adults have the opportunity to take them. The napping desk allows for a mid-day nap – and even allows you to sleep in the office (assuming it’s not against your company’s rules and regulations!)

So how do we implement this in the workplace? First, it’s up to employers to make employee health and wellness a priority, despite the added upfront costs. Over the long-run, the benefits that creative desk solutions have on employee productivity, happiness, and health far make-up for the marginal increase in the cost of a stand up desk versus a traditional desk. Second, it’s up to employees to feel empowered enough to ask for change in the workplace and take charge of their health. It’s a team effort – and it has the ability to make a profound impact on society as a whole.

I can’t wait to see what’s next…maybe swimming-in-place desks?

Star Hughes-Gorup is a senior vice president and director at Hughes Marino, an award-winning commercial real estate firm with offices across the nation. Star is a key member of Hughes Marino’s brokerage team, where she specializes in tenant representation and building purchases. Star also makes frequent media appearances to speak on business issues from a millennial perspective, and regularly writes for Hughes Marino’s “Spaces We Love” blog. Contact Star at 1-844-662-6635, or star@hughesmarino.com.

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