This article is about Standing-Only desks. These desks are just for standing; there is no adjustability to go between sitting and standing. Not only is it trendy today, but there is a bit of confusion that I want to settle with this post. A lot of the attention surrounding Standing-Only desks is with optimal standing schedules to prevent long-term risks. Standing desks, if used correctly, are a straight forward approach to promote postural change without negatively impacting productivity. Check out our 4 suggestions below on how to make sure you work as safe and as comfortable as possible with a Standing-Only desk.4 Ways To Hack Your Standing ScheduleTip #1. Try Not To Stand All Day.One of the most common misconceptions that I come across is that standing all day is a good thing. In reality, just like sitting all day, prolonged standing without much movement or activity is not a preferred ergonomic activity. For instance, research has shown that it can only take about 30 minutes of standing for indicators of lower extremity discomfort risk to develop. That’s all! Which really is not a lot of time in the grand scheme of your workday. So, what can you do about this – STAND LESS. That’s it. Changing up your posture (between sitting and standing) at regular intervals can go a long way to reduce discomfort risks. Do you only use a Standing-Only desk? Well, I have some specific suggestions for you in Tips #2 and #3 (including this Tip of course). If you have a workstation that can be adjusted between sitting and standing but only tend to use the standing function, this advice would be useful to you too. This research has categorized safe durations of standing into safe, slightly unsafe, and unsafe. Whenever possible you should obviously try to work your schedule to be within the safest category possible, whether that be the ‘safe’ or ‘slightly unsafe’ categories. You can check these out below for a more detailed explanation to be used with any standing workstation:The ‘Safe’ Category (lowest ergonomic risk): Standing continuously for less than 1 hour AND for a maximum of 4 hours total throughout their shift.The ‘Slightly Unsafe’ Category (moderate ergonomic risk): Standing continuously for more than 1 hour OR more than 4 hours total throughout their shift.The ‘Unsafe’ Category (highest ergonomic risk): Standing continuously for more than 1 hour AND more than 4 hours total throughout their shift.Tip #2. Incorporating Breaks Are Key.Even with the most ergonomic set-up, if you physically don’t move (except for those speedy little fingers of yours on the keyboard) for hours at a time it’s ergonomically risky. The tips in this section are specifically for those with a Standing-Only desk because it can be a little more difficult to incorporate standing breaks into your workday. Why? Well, when compared to sit-stand desks where you can pretty much go between sitting and standing without sacrificing your productivity, with a Standing-Only desk it necessitates more directness. You almost need to plan out your work breaks to ensure that you can work safely. This research (when combined with the ‘safety zones’ from Tip #1), gives you a really good timeframe to work within. It shows that limiting prolonged standing to just 2 hours at a time, with 5 minutes of seated rest at every hour has been shown to be incredibly useful at reducing the ergonomic risk. Ways to put this in motion include incorporating quick and frequent breaks (for instance, a few minutes/hour) into you workday and work breaks should be an activity where there are large body movements – going from standing to sitting is a good example. Nervous that this may impact your productivity? No worries here as this research found that even with taking more frequent breaks throughout the day, productivity can actually be improved by up to 10%. How about stretching programs? This research shows that stretching programs are advised against due to the limited results in reducing worker discomfort. They indicate that it can take a lot of training and refreshers to show staff how to effectively incorporate stretching programs into their schedules.Tip #3. Get The Equipment.Probably one of the easiest ways to hack breaks into your Standing-Only desk is to have the right equipment. Of course you’ll need a desk that is set-up ergonomically (see Tip#4 for more information!), but beyond that there are many options that can be purchased to enhance your experience while reducing the risks associated with prolonged standing. Here are the top add-ons for Standing-Only desks:Anti-Fatigue Mats (AFMs): Research has found that foot discomfort is proportional to the amount of time standing. With this in mind, getting an anti-fatigue mat can be a big value-add at improving comfort levels. This study found that AFMs are engineered to make the body naturally and imperceptibly sway, which encourages subtle movement by calf and leg muscles. This promotes blood flow and keeps blood from stagn
Ergonomics is the science of matching the work to the worker. Office ergonomics covers finding the right match for a worker and their work environment. Occupational therapists use ergonomics to ensure that individuals’ occupations do not impede their health and well-being. When there isn’t a fit for the worker and the environment, it can cause physical and psychological stress, resulting in physical health problems and injuries to muscles, joints and nerves. When done correctly, good ergonomics can increase your comfort, improve morale and advance work productivity.Five steps you can take to help make your work space more ergonomic:Position monitor at least 20” away and directly in front of you. If you need to raise your computer screen, consider using books or a small box, which helps reduce neck strain at work. When positioning your monitor, the top of monitor should be in level with your eye line.Adjust chair height so your feet rest flat on the floor and your knees are level with your hips. To find this balance, some may need a foot stool to secure proper alignment.Make sure that the weight of your arms is supported at all times. If your arms are not supported, the muscles of your neck and shoulders will be working overtime. Adjust the armrests on your chair to the point where your arms are slightly lifted at the shoulders. Doing so will allow the armrest to support just the elbow and take weight off the shoulders.Take steps to control screen glare and make sure that the monitor is not placed in front of a window or a bright background. Position the computer with the window to your side to control light levels and glare. Also, be sure to look up and away from the monitor regularly, blinking your eyes to help reduce eye fatigue.Use the backrest of the chair for support to prevent muscle discomfort. You should avoid working in the forward position or sitting on the edge of the seat without back support. Your goals is to maintain the normal “S” shaped curve of the spine. Ensure that your ear is in line with your shoulder, chin in and avoid sticking your chin too far forward as this places stress on the neck and shoulders.Following these five steps, you should improve the ergonomics of your desk and enjoy a more comfortable work space.
Want to make your barren yard lush again? Just add a bit of soil from your local meadow. A new study reveals that the addition of foreign soil—and more importantly, the organisms it contains—can shape which plants will grow in the future. Such “inoculations” could even help bring back fallow farmlands and turn deserts green.”This is a really cool and remarkable study,” says Harsh Bais, a root biologist at the University of Delaware, Newark, who was not involved in the work. “Dirt matters.”Soil isn’t as simple as it seems. It contains microscopic bacteria and fungi, as well as tiny worms called nematodes and other invertebrates. Ecologists have long known that these underground communities build critical partnerships with the plants growing nearby. But many of these partnerships remain a mystery. Small-scale studies in greenhouses have shown that adding the right soil can promote the growth of a particular plant community, and some researchers have even tried soil transplantation—replacing one soil with another—to get certain endangered plants to grow.Such need is great across the globe, where many once-fertile lands are turning into desert, and a significant amount of agricultural land is lost every year. What’s more, when governments and nonprofit organizations try to bring back grasslands, forests, and other ecosystems destroyed by agriculture and other human uses, they are often disappointed: Restoration can take decades. It sometimes fails altogether.E. R. Jasper Wubs, an ecologist at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology in Wageningen, hoped to find a better way. But instead of doing wholesale transplantation of soil—which can be expensive—he wanted to see what would happen with a booster shot.He and colleagues set up a series of 2- to 5-hectare plots on abandoned, degraded farmland in the Netherlands. They removed about 60 centimeters of top soil from part of each plot and spread a 1-centimeter-thick layer of soil in others. The soil was taken from either a heathland—rolling hills dominated by heather and small shrubs—or a grassland. They then added seeds from 30 plant species from a variety of habitats and waited—for 6 years.When their waiting was up, they compared the seeded areas with and without the added soil layers, looking at which species were thriving and which were not. The source of the added soil greatly influenced what grew where, they report today in Nature Plants. Plots with heathland soil were covered with heather and gorse, whereas plots with grasslands soil were overflowing with a variety of grasses. The added soil made the existing land richer—as the researchers found more nematode worms, more bacteria, and more fungi in those sections of the plots. Those with heathland soil also had a greater diversity of springtails and mites.